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Apr-10-2007 10:35printcomments

City Receiving Complaints About Noise from Forest Fire Fighting Helicopter Training

Crews are flying a Bell 214, which looks and sounds like a Bell UH-1 "Huey" and has the distinctive "wop wop wop" sound.

bell 214 photo
Photo: California Department of Forestry

(CORVALLIS, Ore. ) - During the last couple weeks, there has been increased helicopter activity at the Corvallis Municipal Airport and over the City of Corvallis.

This activity has elicited a lot of questions and some complaints from residents.

There are currently fourteen helicopters based at the airport and they usually conduct their operations in the vicinity of the airport (1-2 mile radius).

However, at this time of year, Helicopter Transport Services Inc. (HTSI) is conducting spring training and certification for their Skycrane forest fire-fighting crews.

They are utilizing a smaller helicopter than the enormous Sikorsky CH-54 Skycrane they use to fight fires. This smaller helicopter, a Bell 214, looks and sounds a lot like the Bell UH-1 "Huey" helicopter of the Vietnam War period.

It has that distinctive "wop wop wop" of the Huey, which is caused by the blade tips building a pressure wave as they approach the speed of sound.

Many residents have asked why the helicopter has to fly straight over the City and at such a low altitude.

The crews have to train and be certified on the Instrument Landing System (ILS) glide slope approach to the runway. This approach system is to help them land safely in bad weather.

The glide slope is aligned with the main north/south runway at the Corvallis Municipal Airport. It is a straight line for 10 miles and starts near Coffin Butte north of Corvallis and descends heading southbound over the City and Reser Stadium until it brings the aircraft to the end of the runway.

The ILS is only on the north end of the runway because the prevailing winds are from the south and aircraft need to land into the wind.

HTSI, in their attempts to minimize the impact to their neighbors in Corvallis, have sent the helicopter over to Newport, Eugene and other airports in Oregon to reduce the number of overflights even at the increased cost to them for the additional staff time and fuel consumption.

The spring training is almost done.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently conducting "check rides" for the crews and then they will be ready to reposition to airports around the U.S. to await their call to action by the U.S. Forest Service to fight forest fires.

They should be out of the Corvallis area for the summer and will return in September or October and be stored away for the winter.

Last year, one of the Skycranes was even packed up and transported to Australia to fight fires during their summer fire season during our winter.

The helicopter noise won't be gone for good.

There are training flights everyday by the small Robertson R-22 helicopters as well as emergency air ambulance flights by REACH Air Medical Services' all red Augusta 109 helicopter.

The Bell 214 from HTSI will fly training flights for a week in mid-May to train the crew for operations in South America.

The Air National Guard often trains at the Corvallis Municipal Airport.

People are encouraged to drop by the Corvallis Municipal Airport to watch the ongoing flight operations.

If you have any questions or concerns about airport operations call (541) 766-6916.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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JAFO; April 11, 2007 6:28 pm (Pacific time)

did you mean "Freedom Fry's"?

Jeffery James McClintock April 11, 2007 4:20 pm (Pacific time)

I suppose the residents want ketchup with thier french fries too!

Citizen April 11, 2007 9:48 am (Pacific time)

People, what you are hearing is the sound of freedom. You should be cheering. Thank God there are fellow citizens who have the balls to do these dangerous jobs.

peter owens April 11, 2007 5:01 am (Pacific time)

I recently retired as Group Captain in My Fire District in New South Wales, Ausralia. Your Air Cranes have been providing support to fire fighting operations for many years now. they have saved the lives and property of many Australians. We are gratefull!! I am particularly thankfull for the support they provided to me in 2003 fires. Where we lost 500 homes in our Nations Capital, Canberra Thank you Peter Owens Group Captain(ret) Warringah/Pittwater, District New South Wales Rural Fire Service

April 10, 2007 2:18 pm (Pacific time)

what is the deal with all the helicopter activity over south salem?? the national guard and the smaller helicopter school?

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