Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Simplest Lift

Chopper Crash
If you're like me, you've watched the mid-air dismantling of that New Zealand helicopter about a dozen hundred times now. Then again, maybe you're not as into ogling found footage as I. Odd, that... Anyway, let's review: It happened on the Auckland waterfront as workers and journalists watched a helicopter hoisting portions of a fiber optic framing. It was "probably the simplest lift we had ever done", according to pilot Greg Gribble. But shit got complicated quick when a main rotor blade apparently struck a wire, triggering a seizure of sorts. In the space of three seconds the unwieldy bird shimmies, sheds its tail and flips. Rivets unravel and turbines scream as the B2 Squirrel Eurocopter proceeds to come undone. Strapped in and stunned, pilot Greg Gribble goes along for the ride, not remembering much when asked about the impact later. Long before the dust settled, workers rushed the downed chopper, pulled out the pilot and counted hardhats before realizing everyone had survived.

But that's not what I logged in to talk about.

Rather, I'm interested in the unforgiving rub of happenstance, that roll of the newsroom dice that determines if the next mad dash will be mine. You follow? If, say, a fellow photog gets caught up in some groundbreaking swell and can't make his very next mission ... that particular foray could fall to on me. Or suppose a body pops up in founder's fountain and I'm foolish to answer the phone? Next thing I know I'm down there bobbing for hobos as a once distant and reserved edit bay gets all loose with some other shooter. Of course, it ain't all about me. Strike that. Of course it is! Isn't your life about you? From my tripod spot, life occurs slightly off center. That's the way I like it, mind you. I'm quite pleased to be perched on the periphery, provided karma and a news car took me there, not some convoluted set of missteps that sends me stumbling in front of a homicidal ostrich, free falling wrecking ball or some citizen turned media critic.

But I digress. Back to the crash scene...

No more than five seconds before the chopper's blade caught the cable, an unidentified cameraman grabs his rig by the shoulders and hustles it a few feet away. It was a fortuitous move, for even before he fully replanted his sticks, said vessel began shedding metal. Chunks of the chopper were found hundred meters away and while its impossible to say whether Auckland's finest photog would have absorbed that shrapnel had he stayed put, speculating on such a thing is the very lifeblood of this blog. Sooo, did our hero count himself lucky for dodging hot projectiles? Or does he still rue the day he turned away just as God dropped his best eggbeater? I hope not, for a camera(man) can go crazy focusing on the past. Me, I can't remember everything I shot last week, though I can close my eyes and feel the blast of an angry ocean from damn near two decades back.

Now see what you've done.


Kyle said...

Here's that photogs video
Starts out with the shot we've all seen. Then a fence falls, then it goes to his video @ about 2:00. Guy had some brains when he saw that cable.

Admin said...

Well, That's what I get for not clicking links... I see you already had that...

Anonymous said...

A bird trying to take off in a similar type of location (i.e. surrounded by guy wires) is why the Spokane market no longer has news choppers.