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Helinet Aviation shoots Katrina aftermath

Aerial television images of the immense destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans and Biloxi, MS, were captured by Helinet Aviation Services.

The Federal Aviation Administration granted the company permission to provide aerial images from the areas affected by the hurricane and subsequently broken levies in New Orleans.

Among the networks to carry aerial footage from Helinet Aviation were CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC and CBS.

On Aug. 29, Helinet provided the first aerial images in the wake of Hurricane Katrina from its Cineflex HD aerial camera system. However, the feed is strictly SD. The company is continuing to provide live and taped images to relief organizations and news networks from above New Orleans, Biloxi and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

According to company CEO David Calvert-Jones, the helicopter providing aerial coverage is based in Los Angeles and was in New York for some demonstrations as Hurricane Katrina approached land. The company sent the helicopter to cover Katrina Aug. 28. The crew and the helicopter waited in Lafayette, LA, for winds to calm to the point where it would be safe to fly.

As the helicopter began its coverage, it initially did taped feeds of the devastation by shuttling tapes to a Helinet truck. However, after working out the details with Tribute Broadcasting, the helicopter began microwaving live shots to a Tribune satellite truck on the eastern side of Jefferson County, LA.

Support and logistics has proven to be a challenge. Initially, the helicopter refueled at the Super Dome helipad; however, that source of fuel was “commandeered” by the military, said Calvert-Jones. Then, the helicopter refueled at regional airports. As supplies of fuel dwindled, Helinet sent a fuel truck, which arrived in the area Sept. 3.

As of this writing, the helicopter continues to be airborne, covering the disaster for 10 to 11 hours daily, he said.

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