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Rkolsen3,169 posts since 20 Jan 2014
BBC World News
So for the past six months or so I’ve been working on a project to list the registration numbers, stations, helicopter type and branding of the various news helicopters in US. I have 117 helicopters listed most from the US and half a dozen from Canada, the UK and Australia. I also have on the list some helicopters where there contracts were not renewed or replaced (that are striked through) along with stations that have dedicated backups (or ones branded as a second helicopter) and a few that get ferried around when needed. You can view the Google Sheets right here and if you have any to add here’s a Google Form. But I saved the sheets as JPEGs that you can view here:

I started creating this list after some tracking breaking news events and car chases on FlightRadar24. I thought wouldn’t it be much easier to be able to identify a stations helicopter if there are multiple in the air, such as a car chase. I was able to gather a lot of this information from Twitter, stations social media, simply watching FlightRadar24 and searching for the tail numbers on Google Images. Some came from the form submissions but one user at TVNewsTalk, blizzard59, submitted probably 20 helicopters to this list.

I believe this list is mostly complete where in 2013 TVNewsCheck estimated there were between 100 and 120. I have no reason to believe that the number has grown as more stations have been relying on drones or discontinuing there use. Reportedly before the recession there were about 180 helicopters flying.

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I work natively for this list an Excel (Sheets didn’t do the things I wanted it to) and have had some issues with copying data over, for example if I inserted or copied a row for a new helicopter or updated it and went to resort the column for some reason not all of the contents of that row would move with it. So there maybe some differences or may appear off. If so let me know
Last edited by Rkolsen on 28 February 2020 1:14am
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.
2
BBI45 and Mouseboy33 gave kudos
thegeek5,376 posts since 1 Jan 2002
London London
It's probably too old to be of any interest to your spreadsheet, but it appears STV had a helicopter in the 80s.
*G-EYEI and G-STVI by The Viewmaster, on Flickr

It's seen here with Radio Clyde's Barr's Irn Bru Eye in the Sky. Both were operated by Clyde Helicopters - their logo is very similar to that of Radio Clyde, and after doing a bit of digging it seems there was a link between the two in the form of MD Alex Dixon.
Markymark7,818 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
It's probably too old to be of any interest to your spreadsheet, but it appears STV had a helicopter in the 80s.
*G-EYEI and G-STVI by The Viewmaster, on Flickr

It's seen here with Radio Clyde's Barr's Irn Bru Eye in the Sky. Both were operated by Clyde Helicopters - their logo is very similar to that of Radio Clyde, and after doing a bit of digging it seems there was a link between the two in the form of MD Alex Dixon.


TVS had a helicopter in the late 80s/early 90s, used as an SHF mid point before SNG became affordable. Finding a picture of it is as difficult as finding the programme archive. I sat in it once, but didn't get the chance to go airborne
Mouseboy332,860 posts since 10 Feb 2014
OK. Im loving the sponsorship branding for the for the old Radio Clyde chopper. Barr's IRN BRU EYE in the SKY! That so brill. Love it. Remind me of BOB MOORE CHOPPER 4 from KFOR4 Oklahoma City. The rhyming works. And for those that think these choppers dont have value for newsgathering. They do.

I'm here to give you something to talk about! You're Welcome.
https://youtu.be/1g18oiI2WIU
cityprod2,073 posts since 3 Oct 2005
Westcountry Spotlight
Come on, guys! Please read the sticky at the top of this page. It’s very clear.

Rotor discussion is banned.


9.9 on the groanometer.

After that one, you've earned a new nickname...

...Chopper!

In all seriousness now, considering the geography of the region, I don't remember any of the South West companies having their own helicopter. Maybe Westcountry did as they did use some helicopter shots in their opening title sequence for Westcountry Live, but they could have easily hired Castle Air to do that, the same company who did Treasure Hunt, and in fact were based in Cornwall at the time.
1
JamesWorldNews gave kudos
commseng376 posts since 8 Dec 2016
London London
If you are only interested in News Helicopters, then you already have the only two that are currently on standby in the UK.
Based at Redhill and operated by Arena, they are the BBC and Sky helicopters.
https://www.arena-aircraft.com/aircraft-fleet
There was also an ITN one, but that was some years ago.
Other firms that I have used in the UK for sports or other programme coverage include https://gbhelicopters.com/ https://www.pdgaviationservices.com/ https://www.castleair.co.uk/ https://www.flyingtv.co.uk/ http://www.flyingpictures.com/
Rkolsen3,169 posts since 20 Jan 2014
BBC World News
Tonight there was a wild police chase in Philadelphia where an ambulance was stolen, hitting several police cars, the person who stole the ambulance reportedly opened the door and did a fake out as if he was giving up and was likely was tased but he shut the door and continued on. The chase lasted almost an hour. Here’s a video of part of the chase from NBC Philadelphia.

Apparently it was enough interest where it was uplinked I assume to CNN Newsource and was shared that several stations across the country dropped in and out during their 10 or 9 PM newscasts.

Here’s a map of the chase.

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If you are only interested in News Helicopters, then you already have the only two that are currently on standby in the UK.
Based at Redhill and operated by Arena, they are the BBC and Sky helicopters.
https://www.arena-aircraft.com/aircraft-fleet
There was also an ITN one, but that was some years ago.
Other firms that I have used in the UK for sports or other programme coverage include https://gbhelicopters.com/ https://www.pdgaviationservices.com/ https://www.castleair.co.uk/ https://www.flyingtv.co.uk/ http://www.flyingpictures.com/


I don’t plan on listing ones for sports. Are there any other ones that are occasionally used elsewhere by the BBC, ITV/STV/UTV or Sky News in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland or even northern England? Additionally are there any in Ireland?

It's probably too old to be of any interest to your spreadsheet, but it appears STV had a helicopter in the 80s.
*G-EYEI and G-STVI by The Viewmaster, on Flickr

It's seen here with Radio Clyde's Barr's Irn Bru Eye in the Sky. Both were operated by Clyde Helicopters - their logo is very similar to that of Radio Clyde, and after doing a bit of digging it seems there was a link between the two in the form of MD Alex Dixon.


TVS had a helicopter in the late 80s/early 90s, used as an SHF mid point before SNG became affordable. Finding a picture of it is as difficult as finding the programme archive. I sat in it once, but didn't get the chance to go airborne



Interesting. Were these used for reports as well or were they just used for microwave hops when needed?
Last edited by Rkolsen on 29 February 2020 4:39am - 3 times in total
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.
Markymark7,818 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today

Interesting. Were these used for reports as well or were they just used for microwave hops when needed?


TVS's could provide pictures from the chopper itself, but only when the chopper was relatively static, there was no way it could have provided live coverage of a race or car chase. There were only two Rx points (Chillerton Down on the Isle of Wight and Bluebell Hill in NE Kent). It pretty much lined up on one or the other by facing towards the masts, in a position above the news crew on the ground.
Rkolsen3,169 posts since 20 Jan 2014
BBC World News

Interesting. Were these used for reports as well or were they just used for microwave hops when needed?


TVS's could provide pictures from the chopper itself, but only when the chopper was relatively static, there was no way it could have provided live coverage of a race or car chase. There were only two Rx points (Chillerton Down on the Isle of Wight and Bluebell Hill in NE Kent). It pretty much lined up on one or the other by facing towards the masts, in a position above the news crew on the ground.


So the receive site and transmitter I assume were fixed in place compared today’s (atleast in the US) directional gyroscopic antennas on the helicopter and auto tracking receive sites.

I have noticed over the past few weeks most of LA’s news choppers were just showing up on the map as AS50 but didn’t have their tail number. Even though there were no tail numbers it was obvious they were news helicopters as they were all grouped together and following close to a nearby police helicopter. So today I started entering the tail numbers into FlightAware and got the message:

Quote:

N71HD - HELINET AVIATION SERVICES LLC (VAN NUYS CA)

This aircraft (N71HD) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator.


So the tail numbers that are now blocked are from KABC (N71HD, N29FX), KNBC/KVEA (N358TV, N29LW), KTLA (N925TV) and backups (N12YJ, N828AP). Right now there are only three helicopters that show up which are Univision’s KMEX (N213PD) and the two that are shared between the KCBS/KCAL duopoly and Fox’s KTTV which are (N29HD, N211FN). Now there are only two providers in LA - Welk Aviation which provides to KNBC/KVEA and KTLA; and Helinet which handles KABC, KCBS/KCAL, KMEX, and KTTV. 

Now I’m not sure why they requested not to be tracked it could be any number of reasons such as safety or stations request for not wanting the competition to know where they are. I think it may be the latter because Helinet’s helicopters for KCBS/KCAL, KMEX and KTTV are not blocked while KABC is. Helinet if they wanted could just put out a blanket request as opposed to a select few of their fleet. 

Now the most out there reason: although I seriously doubt it but cannot help but wonder if my making the list would factor into their consideration to block helicopters. I’ve asked questions about registration/station use on twitter to their pilots/photojournalists and promoted the list using various hashtags. I’ve gotten more views on those tweets than my regular ones so maybe people have picked up on it.
Last edited by Rkolsen on 29 February 2020 6:21pm
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.