Straight Up: Helicopters in Action (2002) - full transcript

Straight Up: Helicopters in Action will take audiences on a series of aerial adventures. Fly along with skilled helicopter crews as they carry out sea and mountain rescues, apprehend drug smugglers, repair high voltage lines, save endangered animals, deliver humanitarian aid, and undertake a reconnaissance mission. Learn how helicopters are flown. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
How much further, mom?

We're just below the pass.

An avalanche! An avalanche!

Oh, my god, no!

Rega, emergency, Mueller.

Help us! We're trapped.
I can't see my son!

We've been hit by an avalanche!

Raphael, talk to me. Raphael!

Rega to Rega 9.
Avalanche emergency.

Engadine Road below
Bernina pass, over.

Rega 9, roger. We are airborne.

Rega to Rega 9,...

...update on your avalanche.

The GPS co-ordinates
are 8-0-0-7-7-5...

...on 1-4-4-5-2-5.

Rega 9, roger.

- They're coming! They're coming!
- Raphael!

Hurry, I think I see him!

Rega 9 to Rega.

We have a visual on
the accident, over.

Roger, Rega 9.

Raphael, can you hear us?

Can you hear us?

Just so you know, mom's
actually a good driver.

Ready for transport.

I had a concussion. But I remember
this really cool sound.

If you have to go to the hospital,
take my advice.

The best way is by helicopter.

A child born into a
world with helicopters,...

...lives in a world where the
miraculous is commonplace.

A world where doctors swoop
down from the sky.

For generations we dreamt
of vertical flight.

Yet by 1930, we were
still at the dawn...

...of the practical rotorcraft.

Helicopters couldn't lift
patients to safety.

They could barely
lift themselves safely.

The necessary control systems
had yet to be invented.

And so, before the helicopter,...

...we had this: the Autogiro.

Controlled like an airplane,...

...but lifted on blades
like a helicopter,...

...the Autogiro was a hybrid... evolutionary Missing Link,...

...from which the working
helicopter was born.

The helicopter could
hover in one spot.

It had an improved control system.

And, as a result, a new kind of pilot.

A pilot who uses
all four limbs to fly,...

...all at the same time.

Watch his left hand carefully.

He's holding the
collective pitch control.

As he pulls up on it straight up!

The blades act as small wings,...

...but spin so fast...

...they create one
continuous disc of lift.

And when those blades collectively
change angle, or pitch,...

...the aircraft rises or descends.

The pilot's right hand points
the cyclic control,...

...tilting the whirling disc above.

Point right, go right.

Point left, go left.

This is the chopper's tail rotor.

Once again, altering the angle
of the blades affects direction.

The chopper spins in
response to the pilot...

...depressing one of two foot pedals.

If he depresses the other foot pedal... spins the other way.

There's no one in the world...

...for whom flying a helicopter
comes naturally.

But practice produces pilots as
adept as the aircraft they fly.

By the early 1940's,...

...the whirlybird had
gained acceptance.

But we wanted more
power, more stability.

Nicknamed the Flying Banana,...

...this tandem rotor workhorse
from the 1950's...

...lifted troops and supplies
at record speeds.

The helicopter was a success.

We started to wonder:...

...what can it do for us next?

In wind tunnels like these... California's NASA Ames
Research Center... helicopter ideas are tested.

Ideas like: robotic helicopters,...

...high-speed hybrids,...

...and advances in quiet technology.

But not all the complexities
of helicopter flight...

...can be modeled in smoke,
or mathematics.

Ok, let's do the conversion now.

The XV-15 is an
experimental rotorcraft.

It's the parent of a new family
of aircraft called Tilt Rotors.

You just have way too much fun
in that thing, you know that.

Here we go.

Taking off and landing
like a helicopter,...

...its engines can pivot
forward in flight;...

...turning a helicopter into
a high-speed airplane.

The V-22 Osprey has wings that
swing, and rotors that fold,... facilitate storage at sea.

It's still a Tilt Rotor, but faster;...

...with three times the range,...

...and over ten times the payload
of its predecessor.

In less than 90 seconds
you get this:...

...the promise of long distance
travel without airports.

But rotorcraft evolution is also in
the hands of the entrepreneur.

That independent spirit takes
flight in this Gyroplane.

While some designs produce
ground-breaking change,...

...this aircraft brought the
economy and safety of...

...the Autogiro into the
twenty-first century.

We're being watched...

...and by someone who's invisible.

At least on radar.

Comanche's rigid rotor,
seamless skin,...

...and enclosed fan-tail
make it agile and stealthy.

It's smart, fast...

...and ready to win the
game of hide and seek.

Where is the enemy?

Where are my friends?

Comanche will be the first to know.

And knowledge means survival.

The helicopter is a
complex, flying creation...

...a revolutionary tool with
a human being at its heart.

Every hour, of every day,
it extends our powers,...

...fires our imagination...

...and puts us to work.

Five miles southeast of Sand's Key.

Two-five-two-five north,
eight-zero-zero-five west.

Airdrop in progress.
Airdrop in progress.

Out over the Caribbean,
US Customs is on watch.

Roger, that.

Looks like over twenty-five
bales and still dropping.

We've got a go-fast boat
coming in for the pick-up.

And four-five Charlie Sierra,
suspect aircraft is bugging out.

Roger, Omaha four-nine.
Stick with that aircraft.

Helos are on the way.

You hear that alarm you
start running to the aircraft.


Engine power control levers to fly.

Droop stops coming out.

Generator light one
and two coming off.

- Clear to go?
- Good to go.

Smugglers used to run narcotics
under cover of night... they try it any time.

Omaha nine-nine...

...Eight-five Whiskey's turning
north for the take-down.

Nine nine, roger.

We'll cover the back door.

C'mon man, c'mon, c'mon!

Move it. Let's go!

Take-down in progress.

Get down on the ground.
Hands where I can see 'em.

Suspect boat is running east.

Nine-nine is inbound, low level.

We've got marine back-up
three miles south.

Roger, that.
Let's cut these guys off.

In an hour, they can be back
in international waters.

And I don't want to see
them again next week.

If they don't back down,...

...we get creative with the rotor wash.

It whips up the sea spray.

Makes it real hard for
them to navigate.

And that buys us time.

Let me know when
they're in the wash.

they're all yours.

We're on 'em.

It's a cat and mouse game...

...and I hate mice.

The helicopter extends
the long arm of the law...

...and empowers this white
knight on a quest... keep the juice flowing.

I don't give two hoots and a holler
about flying inside a helicopter.

Put me outside, that's
where I want to be.

On the magic carpet.

Back in the late 1800's...

...there was a gentleman by the
name of Michael Faraday.

He had a theory that if you enclosed
a man in a metal cage,...

...and energized that cage,
at whatever voltage,...

...the man would still live.

The voltage would flow around him.

I wear a hot suit.

It's 75% Nomex for fire retardant,...

...and 25% stainless steel thread.

And that metal thread means...

...I have a Faraday cage around me.

A half a million volts
pass over my body,...

...but I can work without interference
from the electricity.

As long as the helicopter
is isolated from ground,...

...we have the ability
to bring ourselves... the same voltage
potential as the line... a bird on a wire.

Our pilots are very smooth.

It's like they can read
our every thought.

There's such a hunger for
electricity these days.

Nobody wants to take
lines out of service...

...just to maintain them.

I've had many people ask me:...

...'Do you think what you do is safe'?

And I say, well, in our operation
everything that we do,...

...every move that we make is thought
of and rehearsed before,... it's as safe as
crossing the street.

It's not a job for a hot dog.

There's only three things
I've ever been afraid of:...

...electricity, heights,...

...and women.

And I'm married, too.

Floating above the forest,...

...a 12-ton weight-lifter selects
a target with precision.

It's kind of like looking'
down 25 stories...

...and picking up a telephone pole.

Ideally, when you come over the top,...'re stationed perfectly above it,
but odds being what odds are,...

...and wind being what it is,
it's not always that easy.

I like flying logs...

...rather than seeing the
hillside get scarred up;...

...lifting' straight out
of the forest,...'re not scraping
it up the hill,...'re not eroding the soil.

It's so much cleaner
on the environment.

It's kind of like flying' a bus.

You got to plan your movements out,...

...and it takes a moment
for it to react,...

...but when it does,
it's a serious reaction.

The unique thing about
this helicopter's... that when
we take off the ground...

...we're approximately
22 thousand pounds.

We're rigging for about
26 thousand pounds.

So the load actually weighs
more than the helicopter.

It's exciting and harrowing
all at the same time.

This type of lifter was built to
haul a very different cargo.

When loaded down with troops,
supplies, and armor plate... still plays a role on the
helicopter's biggest stage.

Five-five, tower.

You're clear to launch on
the launch officer's signal.

Winds fifteen degrees
port at thirty knots.

Harrier is clear to launch.

Leading five-five.

Red Lion seven-seven tower.

Go ahead, sir.

And ninety-nine helos,... plan right now is to launch
you all, put you in the starboard D.

I've got one fixed wing to shoot.

Wilco, sir.

I've got Shamrock to launch.

Clear to cross.

This recon team is at the
focal point of a mission... gain valuable intelligence
about the enemy.

Call sign? Shamrock.

Condor one-four, you're
clear for take off.

Roger, Condor one-four
clear for take-off.

Tefflear six-six, Ugly zero-zero,...

...Red Lion seven-seven,
clear to lift in that order.

Roger. Sliding left.

Winds ten degrees port,
thirty knots. Report to B.

Roger. We're looking good.

Six-six follow the H-fifty-three's
VRC's zero-eight-zero...

...altimeter three-zero-zero-two.

Coming up ahead.
Half a mile. Left ten.

Bulldog One, this is Condor
One-four, we're right on time.

Condor One-four,
Bulldog One. Roger.

Red Lion seven-seven,
follow H-fifty-three... ahead to your right,
enter starboard D.

Condor, gunrunner is sprinting.

Cobra's coming up the
right side 3'oclock.

I got him.

Zero-two, gunrunner and warrior
aircrafts to be working in...

...the vicinity of the next
zero plus three zero.

OK, we'll be coming easy left.

Gunrunner one-four is clear.

Bulldog one, gunrunner one-zero.

Two miles out. Taking
on small arms fire.

Roger that, gunrunner.
Authorized to engage.

Condor flight, approaching
phase line hammer.

Prepare for penetration checks.


...Condor is five miles at your
nine descending two-hundred.

Zone status?

Gunrunner is in hot...

...rockets away.

Okay, Shamrock, zone looks clear.

Last enemy contact three
miles west. One minute out.

Roger, that. We're good to go.

The Shamrock team leader
is Sergeant Kennecke.

He's first in, last out.

First man,...

...second man,...

...third man,...

...fourth man.

By the time you get to touch
rope in a live situation,... and your men feel
tighter than family.

Your fates are tied like
the strands of the rope.

Condor One-four.
Shamrock is deployed.

- Rope's aboard.
- We're on the go...

...start checklist
for objective bravo.

Two hours later,...

...Kennecke and his men have
completed their mission;... enemy forces are tracking
them on the ground.

Legacy, Legacy Shamrock.

Roger, Shamrock, this
is Legacy one-zero.

Go ahead.

Legacy, what's your pos.

Estimate enemy contact
1000 meters north.

Extraction, even more
than insertion,... when you need speed.

You've been awful quiet.

And suddenly...'re awful loud.

Right five.

Hold it there...

...rope's deployed.

Legacy is lifting.

It's a relief to get out.

But everything slows down
while you're exposed...

...holding your breath
for that happy ending.

And when you get it,... feel on top of the world.

Of course, then we got
to commute home...

...just like everybody else.

Sometimes, something very different...

...must be delivered
behind enemy lines.

Something precious...

...and desperately needed.


Sierra Leone is a country that
has suffered years of conflict.

I find it extremely tragic...

...that people are still starving
to death in this century.

They live from day to day.

If they are attacked,
if they are displaced,...

...if they have to move...

...from the area that they
have access to their food,...

...then that's when
the process starts,...

...that's when they start
losing the way to cope.

The UN is here, you know,...

...not to favor really
one side over another.

I mean we are here basically
to end a conflict,...

...and then try to get the parties
to settle the difference, and... try to return a country to peace.

Infrastructure for roads in this
country is very minimal.

It's almost imperative that we
be able to move troops in...

...and also the supplies and
equipment they need by air.

This is the world's largest
helicopter and I'll tell you,...

...without it, we certainly would
be lost in this country.

From the food depot,
to the hot spot,...

...helicopters provide an air bridge.

Daru itself, it is
kind of an island,...

...a safe island, surrounded
by areas that are unsafe.

And for that reason, it always
served as a sort of magnet...

...for very vulnerable
people coming out.

You have a supplementary
feeding program...

...that is run by one of the NGO's,...

...International Medical Care.

So all children under 5...

...who are malnourished
will be given...

...a special feeding program in Daru...

...and the under 5 are always
the first ones you target...

...for any kind of extreme
malnourished cases...

...because they die very quickly.

You give some bulgur,...

...some oil and some split peas.

You give them very basic, basic things
that can give a lot of hope...

...and can change people's life.

Around the world,
millions of human lives...

...have been saved by helicopters.

In South Africa, they
are helping to save...

...a wild animal from extinction:...

...the black rhino.

Protected in a few remote preserves,...

...their numbers are rising.

But if the rhinos feel over-crowded,...

...they will fight to the death.

Some must be relocated
to safe habitats.

Easier said, than done.

There's only about 3,000
black rhinos left in the world,...

...which makes them
extremely endangered.

We're just going in to have a look.

We've got one here,
I'll keep you informed.

Yes Pete, against the slope.

Okay, I have the place.

Okay, there she goes.

At least we've got a good
angle on her.

Let's give her a gap
else we'll scare her.

I'm just going to hold back here
and see what she does.

When you are darting
animals like black rhino,...

...there is this immense trust between
myself and Pete the pilot.

I know exactly what he's going to do
and where he's going to place me...

...and I don't have to think, I can
just concentrate on the animal.

I just know he's going
to put me there... the right spot at the right time.

It's almost that he senses what
the animal's going to do.

In that way,...

...he can change the animal's
mind with his helicopter.

I'm going in for my dart.

Nice shot.

Working with these animals, one's got
to be very careful at all times,... don't want to waste
an animal's life.

- Okay, Doug are you happy?
- Yeah, I'm happy Pete.

You guys can move Jay,...

...the one that we got
here is a female,...

...and we'd like to try
and sling her out... get all the stuff
ready for slinging.

The helicopter is actually
now a part of me.

So, I don't even think about flying.

I feel extremely comfortable
in a helicopter.

I can read the animals and
understand them and...

...I've got the patience not
to push them too hard.

Jay, I think you
can move in slightly.

Down already? Over.

Yeah, she's down
and just watch out,...

...the one that we've darted is
here with me, please come.


Once the animal is darted, we try
to get to it as soon as possible,...

...make sure it's breathing well.

We've been collecting blood
samples, horn samples,...

...and skin samples
from the ear mark...

...and all these will be
used to it's full extent,... get as much
information as possible.

And that will make it possible to
manage them in terms of relocation.

Black rhinos need space.

It's not an animal that survives
very well in zoo situations.

Every animal is just so valuable,...

...and any information that
can be collected on them,...'s worth it's weight in gold.

Every helicopter crew is
in a race against time.

Every mission has a limit.

But some crews push that
limit out into the unknown.

SAR Launch, put the ready H-60
and C-130 on the line,...

SAR Launch, put the ready
H-60 and C-130 on the line,...

...vessel taking on water.

We were working in tandem with
a C-130 Hercules that day.

Our mission was to search
and rescue two brothers...

...whose 26-foot sailboat
was taking on water.

They were about 250 miles out.

In February, when you're
alone in the Atlantic,...

...that spells trouble.

E-city Air, Rescue copter

Any updates on the status
of the two men on board?

Two-six E-city, Roger.
Status is unknown at this time.

One sentence doesn't exist
for a rescue swimmer.

That is: 'Sir, I can't do it'.

They won't ever say that...

...especially if they see the survivor.

Then it's their survivor,
and it's personal.

Rescue six-zero-two-six,
Camslant Chesapeake.

The C-130 reports that
the vessel is sinking.

Survivors are in the water.

Camslant, six-zero-two-six,
Roger that.

Doug, time to fire up the night sun.

Everything comes down
to one tight-knit team.

We make the confirmed
plan as a group.

I have a visual on the vessel.
10 o'clock at 200 yards.

Boat is fully capsized.

No sign of survivors.

Adrenaline can get to you.

Bob's first time out, he
jumped without his fins.

We've been calling him
Flipper ever since.

I have a visual on two survivors.

9 o'clock at 75 yards.

They've left the vessel.

Roger, that. Give me
a checklist part two...

...for a harness deployment
of the rescue swimmer.

Roger. Preparing the hoist.

Set back up pump on.

Back up pump is on.

- Set hoist all.
- Hoist is all.

Checking swimmer
swimmer's ready.

At night, the sharks scare me.

I don't pretend I'm not afraid.

I work within my fear,
I prepare for it.

Rescue swimmers
prepare for everything.

Swimmer going down.

Swimmer halfway down.

Roger, con me in.

Hold position...

...lowering swimmer into the water...

...swimmer away...

...swimmer okay.

I'll get your brother, but
I'm getting you out first.

Basket is away.

Roger, Rick be advised,...

...we are bingo fuel
in twenty minutes.

Roger that.

Get my brother!

Can you move your legs?

That's it.

Some people we
rescue get combative.

You're saving their life.
But they're just so scared.

They're fighting to
survive in deep water.

Basket is halfway up.

Basket is at twenty feet.

Basket is at ten feet.

Basket is at the cabin.

You're going to be okay.

Basket going down.

Roger, that.

Rick, we are bingo fuel in five.


Go ahead see
if you can get the rescue...

...checklist part two to recover
the rescue swimmer.

Roger, sir.

We have a fouled cable here.

It's bird-caged within
the hoist drum, sir.

Can you get it out?

Negative, we've lost the hoist.

How's the fuel looking there, Frank?

We are bingo fuel at this time.

If we don't depart scene right now...

...we're not going to make it.

Doug, can you use the ERD?

Negative, I'm unable
to pay out cable.

Doug, see if you can get that
raft down into the water... the swimmer Drop the DMB...

...and we'll see if we can't
get the Herc to relay,...

...request another
helicopter out here.

Raft is away.

You face a challenge.

There isn't anything you
wouldn't do to meet it...

...that makes it hard
when fate steps in.

Let's head on outta here.
Let's depart the hover now.

Be advised we have a failed
hoist and we are bingo fuel.

We've completed our
emergency procedures...

...leaving the rescue
swimmer on scene.

I knew I'd be in
the water for a while,...

...but I wasn't thinking about sharks.

I was thinking how glad I was
that we got those guys out.

If you lose someone, it can haunt
you for the rest of your life.

I've never lost anyone,
so I sleep at night.

Well, most nights.

When they radioed us that
Flipper was all right,...

...we were just so grateful.

When it's one of your own men,
you feel it even more.

You realize what a privilege
it is to fly a helo.

It's a chance to make a difference
in someone's life.

It's the most beautiful sound
you can wake up to.

You okay, Bob? You ready?
You hang on buddy.

We're going to get you out of here.

Okay, let's do it.

Six-five-one-four, E-City Air.

Tell Flipper we have a special
meal waiting for him.

No fish.