Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Flying Buzz Saw the HeliSaw

Earlier this week as I drove home up the road leading to my house I found that it was close to being blocked by pickups from PG+E,several tree services,a construction company and Calfire. There were close to a dozen vehicles and about fifteen people sporting hard hats and safety vests standing around in groups. Something was up and I had no clue as to what it was! My first thought was that it was a safety meeting of some type to go over the next steps in clearing the trees from around the power lines as this has been an ongoing project for about the last three weeks. Those thoughts drifted out of my head as I went indoors to catch up on some image processing for a job I have been working on.Half an hour later I was interrupted by the sound of a helicopter roaring over the house and circling the Cul de sac seemingly just above the tree tops. Determined now to find out what was going on I grabbed my camera and ran out of the house. I was greeted to an incredible sight. There was a helicopter hovering over the road with what can only be described as a giant buzzsaw hanging from it. There were eight whirling saw blades one above the other on a column with a motor powering them. The helicopter was slowly moving parallel to the powerline trimming off tree branches at an incredible rate. The pilot I was shocked to observe was looking down at the saw from a bubble window sticking out on the side of the aircraft all the while keeping the helicopter level and steady. This must have taken some incredible piloting skills because as the saw moved from tree to tree the helicopter would start to rock in the air.It was just crazy! I watched them until they went around the corner and i couldn't see it anymore. The following day I heard the helicopter working further down the ridge from me. They had traffic controls and I couldn't get a good view of it in operation so I decided to head down to the local airport to watch them refuel. Luckily my timing was good because I got there just in time to catch them landing to refuel both the saw and the helicopter. Landing as I observed it is pretty tricky. They have to very slowly lay down the saw and its supporting control column or they can damage it. The pilot very carefully set the end of the saw on the tarmac and then slowly and carefully backed away and down. It took a close to three or four minutes of hovering gently downward to accomplish this. After landing they did a hot refueling of the helicopter by bringing out a small fuel truck. They also checked on the saw by first looking over the saw blades, checking the oil and refueling the saw with a five gallon gas can. I was very surprised to find that the saw only uses a couple of gallons of fuel per hour. I had expected that it would use a lot more.The pilot and the mechanic chatted while he took a break having a snack while using the saw motor as a table. I asked the pilot how hard it is to watch the saw and fly with the helicopter being bumped around by the saw and the breezes. He simply replied,"It takes some getting used to." A few minutes later he walked to the helicopter and climbed in.He slowly lifted the saw up into the air then rising up higher circled to the west and more tree trimming. Afterwards I did some research and found out that the whole set up is called a Helisaw. God's love and blessings upon your week, chris All images were created with a Canon EF 28-200mm lens mounted on either a Canon EOS 7D MkII or a Canon EOS Rebel T1i camera. Exposures and settings varied.#teamcanonusa

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