Yearly Archives: 2019

Yard Hopping

Today is definitely up there among the coolest flights yet in the helicopter. I grabbed the helicopter from Frederick and met my buddy Mike in Westminster.


From there we proceeded north to my father’s house. There we demonstrated a max performance takeoff – which for the uninitiated is pretty cool, especially in the R-44 with power to spare. This was followed by a flyby of my friends Heather and Brian. Heather snapped the following photo as we flew over.


From here we followed some roads north to Glenville PA. My buddy Dusty has a large farm out this way, and we’d chatted a few times about me stopping in with the helicopter. A quick text revealed he was home and we had permission to land.











Ski Whitetail in the R-44

For once weather and my schedule cooperated! I’ve had to cancel a ton of flights lately. This one popped up, and as I’m heading to the airport, I asked myself – where am I going to head? A few texts later my buddy Tom agreed to be my passenger and we were heading for some sightseeing. First we flew over his house south of Frederick in Urbana, MD. Then we flew north over Ski Liberty.


Next we headed west for an approach at Hagerstown, and then over Ski Whitetail.



After passing White tail we noticed a concrete tower high in the terrain. Doing a closer inspection revealed the tower appears to be abandoned. It looks pretty sturdy – I’m quite sure you could do a pinnacle landing on that baby in the helicopter! (No I did not!)



After that we pass this facility also at a high elevation and very remote. Clearly associated with AT&T.


When I got home I had to do some google research of these two facilities. The tower turns out to be an abandoned Presidential Emergency Facilities Microwave Relay Station called “Cannonball”. More can be found on the site here. The tower was abandoned in 1977 and is currently privately owned.

The AT& T facility is still active, having been built in the 1960s, and hardened against nuclear attack. The exact purpose of the facility is clearly classified – so one can assume secure government communications. More info can be found here. 

There is a broken PDF link in the first link about the tower. However I was able to find the PDF which contains far more information. I pulled it down so that it doesn’t disappear from the inter webs. Presidential_Emergency_Facility_Cannonball


The Snyder Family

My good buddy Zack is very interested in aviation. Awhile back we were able to arrange to do some flying in West Virginia I flew to Pittsburgh for work, and extended the trip into the weekend. Zack drove up from Indiana and we hung out for the weekend and flew over some sights in WV. Since then Zack’s interest in aviation has increased. I told him if he wants to fly the helo with me, he better not delay, as I’ll probably stop flying the helo this fall or next spring and refocus back on fixed wing. Zack arranged a trip for him and his family out from Indiana. Zack’s parents live in the area still so he was able to make a nice outing of it.

I met them in the R-22 at Westminster airport. First up, the kids wanted to go for rides – and I was happy to accommodate. Victor negotiated with Violet to be the first passenger. When I take kids, I don’t like to take them far. I find it best to make the flight short, stay near the airport, and stay in sight of the parents. Parents feel more calm being able to see their kids. I feel better being in the airport environment. And, if a kid doesn’t like the flight we can end it quickly. All that said, I haven’t yet had a kid in the helicopter who did anything other than grin ear to ear and ask questions. Kids can be amazingly fearless and happy. Adults seem a lot quicker to be nervous about the experience!

You can see Victor is quite excited! All in all I gave rides to Victor, Violet, Margie, Zack, and Steve. It was a great intro for all. I wish I had more time for longer introductions, but I think all were thrilled.