Tower re­moval from Hill a pre­ci­sion ex­er­cise

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - Ryan Mathe­son

MA­NOEU­VRING a gi­ant tower while hov­er­ing over Cas­tle Hill is all in a day’s work for he­li­copter pilot Dick Arnold.

Yes­ter­day, he was called in to re­move a 12m com­mu­ni­ca­tions tower from the top of the cliff face, af­ter the 400kg struc­ture was left badly dam­aged dur­ing Cy­clone Yasi.

Mr Arnold was re­ly­ing on more than 25 years in the air as he fought off 37km/ h winds. A team of ex­perts was on hand to help the ex­pe­ri­enced pilot as he locked his B2 Squir­rel into po­si­tion.

Mr Arnold said the op­er­a­tion was done with­out a hitch.

‘‘ This is what we do for a liv­ing, so this type of op­er­a­tion isn’t any­thing out of the or­di­nary,’’ he said.

‘‘ We have done all this be­fore and the op­er­a­tion runs smoothly be­cause ev­ery­one is trained in what they need to do. We al­ways like to make sure our prepa­ra­tion is top notch so the ex­e­cu­tion isn’t all that hard.’’

The air­craft has a max­i­mum load of about 800kg.

Mr Arnold said the tower was air­lifted on a long-line wire to elim­i­nate any po­ten­tial for dan­ger.

‘‘ Us­ing a pre­ci­sion long-line op­er­a­tion will make sure you stay well above the sur­round­ing struc­ture, so you are far from the dan­ger zone,’’ he said. ‘‘ The power and size of the air­craft makes it per­fect for a large range of tasks es­pe­cially be­cause it’s such a ver­sa­tile ma­chine.

‘‘ This whole process took a great deal of plan­ning and a lot of hard work from a num­ber of peo­ple.

‘‘ Be­ing able to work with an ex­pe­ri­enced crew makes my part in the op­er­a­tion a whole lot eas­ier.’’

Photo: ME­GAN TAY­LOR

BUF­FETED BY WINDS: The dam­aged com­mu­ni­ca­tions tower is lifted by he­li­copter from Cas­tle Hill yes­ter­day

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