Sunday, June 1, 2014
Letter to the Editor: My Favorite Childhood Memory
â¶ Rotor & Wing’s Question of the Month: How did you (personally) get involved in the helicopter industry? What made you catch the ‘aviation bug’? What helicopter types have you either flown as a pilot, flown in as a passenger, worked on (engineer/mechanic/technician) or supported? Let us know, and look for responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information at the bottom of the page.
(This response is to a Question of the Month from a previous issue.)
In 1947, I was 13 years old, growing up in San Fernando Valley, California, over the hills from Los Angeles. One day my dad saw in the newspaper that the LA Postal Service was going to do some trial runs from the main post office in LA to a park in North Hollywood on a certain day to deliver some mail by helicopter.
I’d seen films of helicopters in newsreels and thought they were the neatest thing that ever was. A machine that could stand still in mid-air, almost like magic.
So, for the next few days I rode my bike to the park and waited for hours, hoping a helicopter would come. I was the only kid there. Then, finally, one day some men showed up at the park in a post office truck and a few minutes later I heard a new sound to me: the “WHAP WHAP WHAP” of a machine clawing its way through the air.
It arrived and stopped in the air about 20 feet off the ground. It looked like a giant grasshopper. It was a Sikorsky S-51. The passenger tossed down some bundles of letters to the men on the ground. I rushed in and stood next to them right under the ship. The wind was really strong, I could hardly stand up. I was in love.
Some 20 years later, I went to a sailplane event in Torre Pines, California where a guy was giving rides in a helicopter for $10 using an Allouette II. I paid my $10 and hopped in. During the ride, I tried to shoot film from the copter doorway using my small 8 mm camera.
Later, when the film was developed, I saw that the footage was very shaky and had lots of vibration. During this time, I was an assistant cameraman working in Hollywood at a small company that made commercials. I had access to a full-size film camera and big zoom lens.
It took me almost two years to complete my mount. It was big enough to sit in and did float the camera in front of me. I took it to a local helicopter company (National) where we installed it in the side doorway of a Bell J2.
We took off and I shot a short demo reel of a friend of mine riding a motorcycle. We were six feet from him at 60 mph, and did a pull away shot.
I showed the film to an ad agency and they loved it! They made 40 more prints to send out to clients, and I never worked on stage again. I became so busy filming all over the world, averaging two to three jobs a week for almost 20 years.
During this time I made more mounts for other cameramen to use. I now have about 200 mounts worldwide that are used almost every day.
In the March 2014 article, “Essential Equipment: Antennas and Repair Shops” on page 35, the author quoted a former Cobham employee. For more information about Cobham antennas, visit www.cobham.com
In the May 2014 issue on page 20 in the story titled “BARS Risk Program Continues to Grow,” the BARS program was incorrectly attributed to the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) instead of Alexandria, Va.-based Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). We sincerely regret the errors.
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