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Choppers

After Noise Complaints, City Councilman Wants Bay Area Stations To Evaluate Use of News Helicopters

Berkeley city councilman Jesse Arreguin recommended yesterday that city officials and San Francisco local news stations come together to “work out a solution” to noise disruptions caused by news helicopters, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Arreguin, who likened the noise to that of “a war zone,” is planning on penning a letter to area stations, asking that they carefully evaluate whether aerial coverage is necessary for reporting and that they consider flying helicopters at 1,000 feet or higher.

Ed Chapuis, the news director at KTVU, told the Chronicle the decision to use a helicopter for aerial coverage is always a careful one. Read more

WNBC Falsely Reports Chopper Evacuated From Air Space Over Occupy Protests

A misunderstanding between a WNBC news chopper pilot and the air traffic control tower in New York City yesterday evening fueled mounting frustration that the media is being denied full access to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The chopper pilot reported during the early evening newscast he was being evacuated from the area over Canal Street, where protesters were on the move toward the Brooklyn Bridge. NBC owned-and-operated WNBC reported that information on Twitter, where it was retweeted by more than 100 people.

The station later issued a correction, saying the NYPD had not issued an evacuation order and the chopper, which had briefly moved to nearby Foley Square, had returned to its original location. A WNBC spokesperson told TVSpy the erroneous report was the result of a misunderstanding between the chopper pilot and the control tower. Read more

Bird Takes Down KSAZ Helicopter

Veteran helicopter pilot Rick Crabbs and photojournalist Tom Fergus were up in KSAZ‘s news chopper on Wednesday when a bird slammed into the aircraft, leaving a gaping hole and forcing Crabbs to land the helicopter (video above).

Crabbs and Fergus were on their way to cover a fire in Scottsdale when the helicopter was struck by a dove.  Neither of them were injured and Crabbs was able to safely land the aircraft.

“We were probably doing about 120 knots about 140 miles when we heard a big bang,” Crabbs recalled, and “all the sudden feathers were flying all over inside the aircraft.” [h/t NewsBlues]

KTNV Chopper Helps Police Nab Robbery Suspect

KTNV‘s news helicopter played a key role in the arrest of a Las Vegas burglary suspect last Friday, as photographer Jason Harvey, along with chopper pilot Roger Maynulet, helped police search for a 35-year-old man suspected of robbing a local drug store.

Shortly before 6 a.m. on Friday, police were notified of a burglary and began chasing the suspect’s vehicle through a neighborhood in southeast Las Vegas. The suspect eventually crashed his car and fled on foot, at which point Harvey and Maynulet were called into action.

The KTNV chopper was in the air covering traffic for the ABC-affiliate’s morning newscast as police chased the suspect. Harvey and Maynulet spotted the man entering a shed and relayed the information to police dispatchers. Maynulet then hovered over the shed until police were able to surround the location, eventually taking the man into custody. Read more

WFTV Touts Exclusive Casey Anthony Spotting

“Only WFTV was there to capture who was believed to be Casey running into a building, covering her head with a blanket,” the Orlando ABC-affiliate exclaimed on Tuesday, posting raw aerial video of a woman believed to be Casey Anthony running from a single-engine passenger plane to a building at the Orlando Executive Airport.

WFTV’s Steve Barrett reported live at the airport this morning, saying that either Anthony “was really getting off that plane when we videotaped this yesterday or the plane’s now being used in an elaborate deception.”

After her release early Sunday morning, Anthony boarded a plane owned by her former attorney Todd Macaluso. Macaluso’s plane returned to the Orlando Executive Airport on Tuesday and video of a woman wearing similar clothes to what Anthony wore when she was released from jail was captured by WFTV’s news helicopter. Read more

‘The Last of a Dying Breed,’ KCRA Chopper Pilot Dann Shively Retires

Longtime KCRA helicopter pilot Dann Shively is retiring after three decades of giving viewers a bird’s eye view of breaking news.

Shively, 65, joined the Sacramento NBC-affiliate in 1972 as a producer and, after getting his helicopter pilot license “on a lark,” he began flying for KCRA in 1979 when it became the fist station in Northern California to own a news chopper.

Shively flew the KCRA chopper through the 80s in addition to working as a reporter and morning anchor for the station. As rivals debuted their own news helicopters over the years, KCRA was successful in distinguishing its aerial news reporting because the station had a personality to go along with it.

“I think I’m one of the last of a dying breed, the pilot-reporter,” Shively told TVSpy recently via email. “There are only a handful of pilots doing this around the country and with helicopters disappearing from stations everyday the number is dropping as well.” Read more

A Unique Partnership: WCBS Shares Chopper Footage with FDNY

It is becoming more and more common for stations to pool their helicopter footage, but New York’s WCBS shares its aerial video with an unlikely partner: the FDNY.

According to the Daily News, WCBS’s chopper maintains a direct line to the FDNY, providing local firefighters a unique vantage point from which to spot potential hazards or trapped victims.

The partnership was struck following the 9/11 attacks, first with WPIX and then with WCBS (after WPIX ended its helicopter lease and began sharing WCBS’s chopper), as a way to ensure that emergency officials had all possible means of information at their disposal.

“There are concerns with the news media,” Joseph Pfeifer, the FDNY’s chief of counterterrorism and emergency preparedness, told the Daily News. “They have the right to turn it off and turn it on. But if they’re flying and taking pictures as part of the news coverage, we’d like that video.”

Louisville’s WHAS and WAVE Start Chopper Partnership

In an arrangement that is becoming more prevalent across the country, Louisville’s WHAS and WAVE are set to begin sharing a news helicopter this week.

Starting Friday, WHAS, a Belo-owned ABC-affiliate and WAVE, a Raycom Media-owned NBC-affiliate, will begin sharing a news helicopter from Helicopters Inc., based in St. Louis.

According to LouisvilleKY.com, the two stations will share air time and video feeds, especially in the event of breaking news, while also partitioning time for individual use of the chopper.

Earlier this month in Miami, NBC O&O WTVJ joined with WFOR and WPLG in sharing a helicopter.

“It’s becoming really common all across the country,” WHAS news director Mark Neerman said.

WTVJ Joins WFOR and WPLG in Miami Chopper Pool

What was once the Sky 10 news helicopter has been rechristened Sky 20 as WTVJ (channel 6) joins WFOR (4) in sharing what was originally WPLG‘s (10) chopper.

CBS O&O WFOR and ABC-affiliate WPLG entered into a pool agreement at the start of 2010 and now NBC O&O WTVJ has joined as well, according to SFLTV. WTVJ had been operating without its own news chopper.

The move now leaves Fox-affiliate WSVN as the only Miami station to have its own eye in the sky.

Details of the WTVJ deal are scarce but one can assume that the revised pool agreement will stick to the existing rule of 60 hours of flight time per month, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It remains to be seen how those hours will be partitioned, though. Under the WFOR-WPLG deal, the stations were allowed up to 5 hours of private flight time per month and they took turns every month dispatching the helicopter.

Phoenix News Chopper Hit with Laser Beam

A Phoenix news helicopter was the victim of a dangerous prank last week as someone shot a bright laser beam into its cockpit (video above).

Police are currently investigating the incident and have yet to identify the culprit. According to The Arizona Republic, local police searched door-to-door last week in the area where the beam originated.

The helicopter shoots footage for multiple Phoenix stations, including CBS-affiliate KPHO and independent station KTVK.

“The message here is that if you want to engage in this kind of dangerous and irresponsible behavior, you can get arrested,” said a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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