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Thread: Ariel Logging- Balloons, Helicopters, or Otherwise.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    Ariel Logging- Balloons, Helicopters, or Otherwise.

    I have alot of old pics featuring aeronautical devices used for logging. For a few years in the early 90's I was a loading/trucking contractor working with Columbia Helicopters and Evergreen Helicopters around Washington State. I have been in the hot seat of the shovel scrambling and cursing as the pilots buried me in logs and laughed about it! Bastards.

    Here in Alaska a fellow name Pat Soderberg pioneered loggong with hot-air balloons, and for a few years it really took off, pun intended.

    Today in Alaska, Columbia Helicopters has a full-time office and shop in Ketchikan and camps in various remote locations around Southeast AK.
    They are a customer of mine here now on the log loader side of things.

    Columbia pioneered heavy-lift here is Alaska (on the slope, not logging) with experimensts pulling a loaded 'hoverbarge' around on the ice at Prudhoe Bay.

    So,I know for a fact there are lots of us here with some pics and stories.
    How about sharing a few??

  2. #2
    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    I stole this material and photo from another website. How's that for a disclaimer?!! Anyway I like it so here it is. It inspired the thread.

    In June 1982, Columbia Helicopters was hired by Sohio to participate in a test on Alaska's North Slope. The purpose of this test was to evaluate the ability of a helicopter - the Boeing Vertol 107-II - to tow a fully-loaded hover barge over water, snow and ice.
    The test began in Prudhoe Bay on June 17. The Vertol's 600-foot long line was connected to hover barge ACT-100, jointly owned by Global Marine Development and VECO. Air blowers on the 170-ton barge forced a cushion of air under the barge, which was kept in place by rubberized skirt material. This first test was run around Prudhoe Bay with an empty barge, and was successful. During this and subsequent tests, the aircraft often flew with a nose-down angle approaching 25 degrees.
    Next, ACT-100 was loaded with 40 tons of cargo for another close-in test run. Once more, the helicopter showed it could move the barge despite the additional weight.
    The final aspect of the test was to tow the hover barge over a 50-mile course to a drill site named Alaska Island where Sohio had just completed an oil well.
    During the tow to the island, headwinds over 30 knots were encountered, and snow and ice buildup were also factors. Regardless, the Vertol was able to bring the empty barge to the island successfully.
    On the return trip to Prudhoe Bay, when this photo was taken, the barge carried 50 tons of cargo, bringing the total weight to 220 tons. As with the previous tests, this task was accomplished successfully.
    This photograph is one of longtime Columbia Helicopters' photographer Ted Veal's most famous photographs. The use of a powerful telephoto lens makes it appear as though the helicopter is closer to the ice than is actually the case.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    Here are a few from Vancouver Island. Big Sikorsky.
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    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    Alaska Balloon Logging, 1973, near Kake

    Clear Creek Logging, Owned by Pat Soderberg, used this balloon for logging in Alaska in the 1970's. This isnt a great pic as it was taken out of a helicopter on a miserable day. Yarder is a Washington Aero-Yarder, loading shovel is a Washington TL-6 Trackloader on rubber. Also in the pic you can see a Cat dozer (used to anchor the balloon) and a grapple skidder to bring the logs from the yarder to the shovel.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Big Iron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contract Logger View Post
    I stole this material and photo from another website. How's that for a disclaimer?!! Anyway I like it so here it is. It inspired the thread.

    In June 1982, Columbia Helicopters was hired by Sohio to participate in a test on Alaska's North Slope. The purpose of this test was to evaluate the ability of a helicopter - the Boeing Vertol 107-II - to tow a fully-loaded hover barge over water, snow and ice.
    The test began in Prudhoe Bay on June 17. The Vertol's 600-foot long line was connected to hover barge ACT-100, jointly owned by Global Marine Development and VECO. Air blowers on the 170-ton barge forced a cushion of air under the barge, which was kept in place by rubberized skirt material. This first test was run around Prudhoe Bay with an empty barge, and was successful. During this and subsequent tests, the aircraft often flew with a nose-down angle approaching 25 degrees.
    Next, ACT-100 was loaded with 40 tons of cargo for another close-in test run. Once more, the helicopter showed it could move the barge despite the additional weight.
    The final aspect of the test was to tow the hover barge over a 50-mile course to a drill site named Alaska Island where Sohio had just completed an oil well.
    During the tow to the island, headwinds over 30 knots were encountered, and snow and ice buildup were also factors. Regardless, the Vertol was able to bring the empty barge to the island successfully.
    On the return trip to Prudhoe Bay, when this photo was taken, the barge carried 50 tons of cargo, bringing the total weight to 220 tons. As with the previous tests, this task was accomplished successfully.
    This photograph is one of longtime Columbia Helicopters' photographer Ted Veal's most famous photographs. The use of a powerful telephoto lens makes it appear as though the helicopter is closer to the ice than is actually the case.
    that is one cool photo. they had one on the wall at VECO camp when i worked for them on the slope. i will ask my little brother (10th or 11th employee hired by Wes LaMatta Columbia owner) if he has some Columbia logging photos laying around i can scan.

    the Crane was a workhorse in its time and the biggest in the US until Columbia got a bunch of Boeing 234 Chinooks.
    the standing joke around crane pilots was, when are you going to make enough money with that aircraft to buy the other half of it?

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    A bunch of years ago, had to 90 or 91 we worked on a spread of equipment from Oregon that was moving to Vancouver Island. Whispering Winds I think was the name. They had two Washington Yarders and a LS98 Link-Belt line machine for loading logs. They also had an HD21 dozer to use for parking the balloon on at night. I don't have any pictures but have seen a couple on web awhile back.

    We had several Washington Iron mechanics working for us at the time and that's why they came through the Komatsu dealer. At any rate I did most of the work on 98 while the Washington guys redid the brakes and generally cleaned up both machines fixing wiring and air systems.

    I was talking to one of their operators when they were getting ready to load the machines on the barge. I asked about the operating issues of the balloon. He told me wind was a big problem. The balloon had so much lift that they would play hell getting the thing down in a blow. They parked the balloon by hooking it to the HD41 at night and the fellow told me a couple of times the machine had been drug out of place.

    Anyways, another great thread.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    Whispering Winds rings a bell with me. I figure I've probably forgotten half what I have been told, so maybe someday I'll remember why it sounds familiar.

    Anyway, everybody post some pics. I'm still trying to find mine, lol.

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    Alas, all I have left are mental pics.

    Thanks again for the pics above though.


    Take care

  9. #9
    Senior Member Contract Logger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadden View Post
    Alas, all I have left are mental pics.

    Thanks again for the pics above though.


    Take care
    Thanks for hangin' with us Dave. We're glad you found us and your contributions and recollections ar invaluable.

  10. #10
    Member gatorguy's Avatar
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    If there is an obvious answer to this question I have completly missed it, which for me is nothing out of the ordinary.

    How do the baloons control their direction? seems to me it would be a hard thing to do unless the loading dock was always upwind and they just winch it back and forth with a dozer?

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    There are two yarders, one on each side of the cutting. One lets cable out while the other brings cable in to pull the balloon through the sky.

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    Senior Member Iron Horse's Avatar
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    Great pictures , you guys get up to some tricks.....

    What inflates the balloons ? Is it hot air or Helium or some other gas ? How can they stay up overnight ? How much weight can they lift ?
    Last edited by Iron Horse; 04-13-2010 at 05:53 AM.
    Just my 2.02 cents including GST .

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    Aero Yarders

    Quote Originally Posted by Contract Logger View Post
    Clear Creek Logging, Owned by Pat Soderberg, used this balloon for logging in Alaska in the 1970's. This isnt a great pic as it was taken out of a helicopter on a miserable day. Yarder is a Washington Aero-Yarder, loading shovel is a Washington TL-6 Trackloader on rubber. Also in the pic you can see a Cat dozer (used to anchor the balloon) and a grapple skidder to bring the logs from the yarder to the shovel.

    I have some pics of parked Aero-Yarders, I think from Mesachie Lake, (together wit a lot of other slides). Trying to make a plan over how to get them scanned...

  14. #14
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    The balloons are filled with helium. There is usually a truck on site with what look like torpedo tanks stacked on each other. They can pump the helium into the balloon or out as needed.

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    Perhaps one of you guys could confirm this or explain where my memory has failed me but when I worked for Husby from Sept. of '86 until May of '87 he ran that Sikorsky S-64 at Eden Lake and I was told the following by one of the crew.
    First, the agent in Canada was Silver Grizzly at the time and the Erickson Air-Crane as it was called was operating out of Medford Oregon back then.
    This was before Husby took over as the agent etc.
    Anyway, I was told that the crew on the chopper were in constant radio contact with Medford (to keep track of actual flying time for maintenance purposes I think) and also that they could change the insurance coverage on the thing to suit whatever conditions they were in and/or to cover whoever was flying in the chopper at the time.
    I raise this question because when the then Premier of BC, Bill Vander Zalm flew a turn in it I was told that the insurance rates increased for that 42 minute period of time because of who the passenger was.
    Seemed a bit far-fetched to me at the time but given how some things work in the real world I'm now wondering if there is some validity to that claim.
    Anyone know?

    I also recall one dark and stormy night being the one human on the planet who was lying spread-eagled on top of a 30,000 gallon fuel tank while the wind blew about 60 knots and the rain was going sideways as I tried to see with a feeble little flashlight how close to the top the fuel was. It was being pumped from the fuel barge that visited Naden Harbour on a regular basis back in those days and someone had to tell them when to stop pumping.
    I think it was about three AM when that was happening and I was strongly wishing I was back in my bunk in the bunkhouse rather than being where I was.
    That thing went through a lot of fuel.
    An old but not terribly fond memory of mine. LOL

    Take care..

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