Tower removal from Hill a precision exercise
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.’’
BUFFETED BY WINDS: The damaged communications tower is lifted by helicopter from Castle Hill yesterday