Today at Kingsford – Air traffic

OMNR Helicopter

Here at our new home, human-made sounds are unusual, rather than the norm. In the city, of course, you’re constantly surrounded by the sounds of humanity: traffic, car horns, sirens, lawnmowers, your neighbours. Even at my parents’ old place, even though it was rural, a major north-south regional highway was just a kilometer away, and could always be heard in the background, along with train whistles and a fairly regular passage of aircraft, both local planes and commercial jets flying in to Pearson.

Here, however, when I step from the house and look out over the lake, all I hear is the chatter of the chickadees and finches at the feeders, the rustling of the dry leaves still hanging from the branches, and the crunch of my feet on the snow. We’re too far from any major road to hear traffic, and we’re not underneath any major flight routes to notice airplanes. Over the course of a day we may have ten or twenty cars drive by along our road (depending on day of the week and time of year), and in the summer the occasional motorboat would zip by on the lake. But that is it.

So when a helicopter flies by low overhead, it really stands out. This one did a few circuits today, and after it had gone over twice and I’d oogled it both times, on the third pass I remembered to grab my camera. It also happened that on the third pass it was flying low, and it went virtually directly above our house. All three times it headed out to the park and disappeared over the crest of the trees, only to reappear half an hour later, and then swing south to follow our road presumably toward the city.

OMNR Helicopter

A close up on the ‘copter. They were down so low, you can actually see the face of the guy in the rear passenger seat, peering out the window (easier to see on the large size)! You can also pick out the white expanse of the lake and the bright rectangle that’s our house in the reflective glass under the cockpit.

I did a search for yellow helicopters in Ontario, and it turns out this belongs to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. I couldn’t tell how many of this type they owned, only that they have two types of ‘copter that do duty for them. I found photos of a couple, this one (#7) and another (#9). This ‘copter seems to get around. I found Flickr photos of it at airports in Buttonville (north of Toronto) and Muskoka (interestingly by the same guy; he also gets around).

OMNR Helicopter

The OMNR’s website indicates that this ‘copter is used for “Aerial survey, forest fire fighting (with Bambi bucket), medivac, search & rescue, cargo/passenger transport, sling work, aerial ignition.” The photographer of those Flickr photos indicates in one that “This helicopter is routinely used to fight forest fires” and in the other that it belongs to the “Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch”.

I don’t know that they were out there fighting, or even looking for, forest fires, but they could ostensibly have been doing aerial surveys of some sort, either for animals, like a White-tailed Deer count, or of the landscape. I’ve never been up in a ‘copter, but Dan has, while doing bird surveys up in the remote wilds of Northwest Territories. They flew in to their survey sites by ‘copter, and then out again. I also know large animal surveys, particularly of such things as bears, are routinely done by helicopter. So that’s a reasonable possibility.

Or I could also see them being called in for medivac, rescuing a hiker in the middle of the forest and taking them down to Kingston General (of course, I don’t know why they would’ve needed three trips then). Possibly even searching for a lost hiker. I briefly considered calling the MNR to inquire, but there was absolutely no reason for me to know other than to sate my own curiosity, and the chances of me actually reaching someone who knew why the ‘copter was out was pretty slim anyway.

So, as a friend of mine used to say in such situations, it’s a mystery.

Advertisements

9 responses to “Today at Kingsford – Air traffic

  1. I wonder what the spikey bits are for? It looks more like a macro of a flying insect than ever with those things.

  2. You could try calling the park office. They might be more friendly than MNR and probably know what it was about. It’s natural that area residents would be curious.

  3. I’m always curious when the copters hover over my little island retreat in Cape Breton.

  4. Great article in blog, congratulations. It’s interesting how bloggers, no matter which discipline, probably can relate at least in part, in some areas, more to bloggers, than people in their actual discipline. I found that in hydrology: not many hydrologists blog, but once I connected to the network of blogging, it was a brand new day.

  5. I’ve never been up in a helicopter either. My neighbor is a ‘copter pilot and occasionally he will land it in his front yard. It’s cool to watch him maneuver it. My little girl loves to watch!

  6. Lovely Article
    The helicopter you are looking at is bell 206 longranger , Based out of Bracebridge . Affectionately know to those of us who flew her as super 7 . The seven denotes her designation while on forest fire duties . Judging by the dates on your responses the crew was likely conducting moose inventory where a 2.5 X 10 km plot is flown at an altitude of about 300 feet . After 25 years of service this aircraft was retired this year and recently replaced . Beutiful pictures
    MNR HELICOPTER PILOT

    • Thanks for sharing that info, Eric! It’s always neat to hear from someone “on the inside”, and hear a little more than one might find out from websites, etc. It would be interesting to be involved in such aerial surveys, would definitely provide a different view of the landscape. I know moose occur in the park in small numbers; I wonder what their results were.

  7. This helicopter is currently circling my area east of Bracebridge. If there are moose out there, please don’t scare them away!

  8. well it’s the middle of October and I seen the show a helicopter flying around few times today here I think maybe it’s a Mnr helicopter but I bet you they’re looking for dope it’s that time of year and circling around like that gotta be looking for drugs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s