WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — Sweeping in low over the businesses and homes of Canonsburg, then arching into a circle over Strabane Township, the helicopter slowed, its occupants straining to look below.
Sounds like the opening scene of a CBS crime show, but this is real life, and it happened Wednesday afternoon.
The Vista One helicopter, with pilot – Justin – keeping his craft 300 feet above the deck, was on a mission for First Energy.
Spokesman Todd Meyers says the crew is looking closely for problems on the poles and in the power lines that brings the power from the high-tension lines into the communities.
“Those poles are, by nature, closer to the ground,” Meyers says, “and that makes the helicopter fly a little closer to the ground in some areas that people might not normally see.”
As he sat on his front porch in Strabane Township watching, Michael McMasters wasn’t overly impressed by today’s flyby.
“It was a helicopter; they’ve been through here before,” he said.
Across the street, it was a learning experience for Shannon Coulter.
“It was interesting. I never knew they could check power lines with a helicopter,” she said.
Actually, the practice of checking power lines with helicopters has been the industry standard for years. The current work in First Energy’s Western Pennsylvania footprint is designed to keep the power on 24\7.
Meyers says, “One of our key tools for that is using these inspections so we can find things before they cause a problem.”
While there is no intention to alarm residents, Meyers reassures folks the pilots are pros and do not spend much time in any one area. The crew on Wednesday found several issues along the lines that crews will be dispatched to repair.
On Thursday, it’s on to Uniontown and Fayette County.