In the late 80's I did some work for the Springfield, MO NBC television affiliate.  This station has an impressive history, for years it was regularly the highest rated network affiliate in the entire country, and it's local news owned the market regularly commanding a market share well over 50% of the viewers.  This was at the end of the golden age of television, before video games, the internet, and satellite alternatives fragmented the viewer market so dramatically.

This affiliate at the time had it's own helicopter for the purpose of shuttling personnel quickly between locations minimizing the wastage of valuable staff time.  It was a good time to be in television.  Unfortunately economic realities hit and among other cutbacks the helicopter, which cost the station about a half million a year, was eliminated.

This picture was taken circa 1988, unfortunately I don't remember the specifics of this particular trip as I had opportunity to ride this bird on several occassions.  The company pilot was a man by the name of Ken Carroll, a former Huey pilot in Vietnam.  He told amazing stories including one where he was called in to evac a unit that was under fire and had wounded, when he arrived there wasn't an LZ (Landing Zone) available and they couldn't cold hook them out.  So he picked a patch of less dense growth and carefully descended chopping out the saplings and limbs with his rotor as he went.  He was successful and retrieved the unit without a man lost.

As a pilot myself (fixed wing only, not rotary) Ken would get a kick out of scaring me by strafing a tree line at high speed only a few feet off the ground until I knew we were dead, only to then laugh, yank the collective and clear the treetops by just inches.  This man was a master of his craft.  That's Ken in the front seat and myself with the window down.


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All images & text 2003 Phil Case