Paul Filmer's 2011 blogGAR Entries

AUG 11 2011
blogGAR: Helicopter Transport Services' CH-54 Skycranes at Front Range Airport

I was given a heads-up that a bunch of Skycranes were present at Front Range Airport which is to the east of Denver and under the Denver International approach and departure airspace. Much to my surprise it was the complete fleet of Helicopter Transport Services CH-54A and CH-54Bs, which comprises of eight aircraft. They had been in hangars here for around two months and were performing test flights after a heavy maintenance schedule that was enforced by the Feds in the middle of the fire season.

Front Range is a small, overlooked airfield with large hangars for lease or rent and has almost no neighbours to complain about noise, so this was a perfect base for the helicopters instead of having to go back to their own base in Oregon. Each helicopter is followed around while on contract by a fuel truck and a maintenance crew, so going back to Oregon from the dispersed fleet would have taken a long time.

I had the opportunity to shoot late one day while flights were being performed and hung around for the sunset shots, before going back on their departure day when most of the helicopters departed after being put back on contract.

Rocky Mountain Metro Airport has an Erickson Air-Crane S-64E Skycrane based for the fire season, but we only usually see it at the beginning of the season when they test the tank before it gets sent all over the country to fight fires. This year, however, the season has dropped off and we've had the based aircraft back for a few weeks.

I took the opportunity to shoot it during a particularly nice sunset while a DC-3 belonging to the Detroit Flagship Foundation was parked up on a break in its tour. This DC-3, built in 1937, is the oldest DC-3 currently flying in the world, and very nice she looks too.

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