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Choppers

Former WSB Chopper Pilot Dies in Crash

matt wallaceMatt Wallace, a former chopper pilot for Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB, died in a helicopter crash in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tuesday.

Wallace — who worked for WSB from 1997 to 2003 — was flying a helicopter contracted by Alabama Power. A passenger also died in the crash, according to the station:

Authorities say Wallace and his passenger, identified as 63-year-old David Carson, were conducting an aerial inspection of a transmission line when the crash occurred.

News Chopper 2′s Jason Durden says he’s heartbroken by the loss of Wallace, remembered as an “excellent pilot and an even better man.” Carson, Wallace’s passenger, was a senior line specialist at Alabama Power and had 44 years of service at the company, officials said.

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NTSB Examines Surveillance Video of KOMO Chopper Crash

komo crashNTSB investigators are examining surveilliance video of the KOMO helicopter crash that killed two people this week. Several nearby businesses have provided the video for the investigation, the Associated Press reports:

Investigators also took samples of the railing around the KOMO rooftop helipad, Hogenson said in a Thursday afternoon interview. The samples will be sent to a materials lab in Washington, D.C. for analysis. Investigators aren’t looking for anything specific, they’re just “seeing some things they don’t understand,” he said.

At a secure hangar in Auburn, south of Seattle, the work of reconstructing the helicopter from its charred wreckage continues.

The agency continues combing through pilot and maintenance and company records associated with the flight, Hogenson said. Investigators are focusing on the helicopter’s engine, the airframe, the pilot and the environment.

Two people were killed in the crash. According to the AP, the NTSB could release preliminary findings as early as Monday.

Helicopter in KOMO Crash Was Formerly Used by WBZ, WFXT

komo crashThe helicopter involved in the KOMO crash was previously used by  two Boston stations, CBS owned WBZ and Fox owned WFXT, WBZ reports.

According to NBC News, the chopper, a Eurocopter AS350, was on loan from Helicopter Inc. of Cahokia, Ill., while KOMO’s regular one had new equipment installed. Gary Pfitzner, the chopper’s pilot, and Bill Strothman, a former KOMO photographer, were killed in the accident.

WBZ reports the chopper was used in Boston for 10 years and flown to Detroit last November.

KOMO shares a helicopter with KING, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. “Words cannot express the sympathy and sadness we feel for the victims who lost their lives in today’s tragedy and for their families,” KING president and general manager Ray Heacox said in a statement. “We grieve this afternoon with the entire Seattle community and our thoughts are with all those affected.”

[h/t WBZ managing editor Pete Wilson]

2 Dead After KOMO Helicopter Crashes in Seattle

The KOMO news helicopter has crashed near Fisher Plaza in Seattle. Kelly Koopmans, a reporter and anchor at the ABC affiliate, is tweeting from the scene:

Koopmans said the chopper crashed into at least two cars on the ground.

>More: Watch’s KOMO’s live report on the chopper crash here.

>More: The Associated Press says casualties have been reported in the crash:

The station says the copter was apparently coming in for a landing on its rooftop Tuesday morning when it possibly hit the side of the building and went down, hitting several vehicles on Broad Street.

The copter and cars exploded in flames and casualties were reported. People in the area reported seeing a huge cloud of smoke as firefighters and police responded.

>More: The Seattle Fire Department reported via Twitter two people were killed in the crash. Seattle NBC affiliate KING, which operates the chopper in a joint partnership with KOMO, is reporting a third person is in critical condition.

>More: Video from the aftermath of the crash is after the jump. Read more

North Carolina Law Enforcement Enlists WSOC Chopper in Manhunt

wsoc manhuntWSOC‘s helicopter was enlisted for help finding a man suspected of killing of his father, stepmother and a U.S. Forest Service officer in Burke County, N.C., the Charlotte Observer reports:

Hickory-based reporter Dave Faherty was following the search in a rugged area of the foothills when authorities asked for assistance from Chopper 9 overhead. “They asked us for help because they couldn’t locate the suspect,” says news director Julie Szulczewski. “We wanted to help them because it was a public safety threat.”

Andy Holt, who has been flying Chopper 9 for nearly two decades, was focusing on officers in the woods when he got the call. He landed nearby and two Burke deputies climbed aboard his six-seat helicopter. An officer on the ground reached the slain Forest Service officer and signaled his position to the helicopter with a strobe flashlight, allowing deputies to direct others to the scene. After about 30 minutes, the State Highway Patrol helicopter arrived to continue the search for the suspect, who was ultimately killed.

“Over the years, we have helped out law enforcement as needed,” says Holt, who flew H-53 Sea Dragons while he was in the Navy.

Albuquerque Police Make Arrests in KOAT Chopper Shooting

koat chopperAlbuquerque police have arrested two men for shooting at the KOAT helicopter and satellite truck. Joshua Sullivan, 23, and Robert Rand, 24, “plotted and executed a plan to shoot up Sky 7 last week,” according to the Albuquerque ABC affiliate.

A KOAT photographer was able to get video of the suspects’ car as they fled the scene after the shooting. Last week, police apprehended a shoplifting suspect in the same car, finding shotgun shells that matched those found at KOAT. The men have admitted to both shootings, according to the station’s report on the arrest.

“The community support for Sky 7 and trying to find who did this has been great. Now, I just hope the DA’s office can effectively and quickly prosecute these guys,” KOAT general manager Mary Lynn Roper said. [h/t NewsBlues]

Shots Fired at KOAT Chopper, Satellite Truck

koat chopper

Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT says a man in a gold Nissan Maxima opened fire at the station’s helicopter last week. The chopper is currently disabled and estimated to have more than $100,000 worth of damage.

The gunman is believed to have also shot at a KOAT satellite truck, which was parked nearby, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Police say they have a “very strong” lead in the case.

“We appreciate the efforts of APD to find who is responsible for this,” KOAT president and general manager Mary Lynn Roper said in a statement. “Sky 7 is a tool we use to serve the public interest. It has saved individuals and gives officials a bird’s eye view when residents, communities or pueblos are in trouble.”

KTVU Calls Out Rival KGO in Press Release Touting Asiana Airlines Crash Coverage

In a press release trumpeting KTVU‘s coverage of the Asiana Airlines crash, the San Francisco Fox affiliate is calling out ABC owned KGO for being slow to the story.

In the release, KTVU noted they were first on the air and first with a reporter from the scene. The station also noted that KTVU’s aerial coverage was used by ABC News in its national report, since KGO’s chopper was not yet in the air by the time David Muir‘s special report began:

KTVU’s coverage was even picked up by the ABC National News – instead of their own affiliate (KGO).  The ABC National News repeatedly used aerial footage from KTVU NewsChopper 2 during their 30 minute Special Report.  KGO didn’t hit the air with local coverage until 1:11pm – 58 minutes later than KTVU.

ABC News, CBS News and Fox are members of Network News Service, a partnership that allows all three networks to pool coverage from their local affiliates. KTVU’s live pictures were fed to ABC News through NNS.

In contrast to the local coverage, ABC’s national coverage was the most extensive of the broadcast networks. Muir anchored an 45-minute special report that preempted the network’s coverage of Wimbledon, while NBC and CBS offered only brief updates.

KGO news director Tracey Watkowski did not immediately respond to TVSpy’s request for comment.

In Philadelphia, Different Approaches to Chopper Coverage

The Philadelphia Daily News takes a look at the different approaches to aerial coverage for the market’s local stations. The piece examines local news service (LNS) agreements, which allow stations to pool helicopter resources. In Philly, NBC O&O WCAU used to share a helicopter with Fox O&O WTXF, an agreement that expired last year:

“We believe we should look to differentiate ourselves from other television stations in the market,” [WCAU vice president of news Anzio] Williams said. “It was hard to differentiate ourselves when we were using the same pictures.”

He added, “We wanted to make sure that everything we do is better. And by getting SKYFORCE 10, we now have the opportunity to have closer images, and we can take viewers where we want to. We wanted to have the best possible tool we could put in the air.”

[...] Williams’ competition says it isn’t particularly impressed by SKYFORCE 10. Jim Driscoll, Fox 29′s vice president/news director, doesn’t think that the strategy is forward-thinking. Read more

KTTV, KCBS to Share Chopper in Los Angeles

Fox-owned KTTV is entering into a helicopter sharing agreement in Los Angeles with CBS-owned KCBS-KCAL.

The partnership, which officially begins Monday afternoon, is a pooling agreement on a non-exclusive basis. Until last year, KTTV shared a helicopter with NBC-owned KNBC; KCBS-KCAL has been operating their own helicopter.

A Fox spokesperson said no staff reductions are expected at KTTV as a result of the agreement. The station says the partnership will lead to more content and a more efficient use of resources. The Fox Television Stations Group has helicopter sharing agreements in 13 markets.

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