Monday, April 07, 2014

Chicago, Illinois: Helicopter lift goes to Plan B when roof not ready for four-ton load

7-Apr-14 – Weighing at least 8,000 pounds, a cooling tower had to be set down in the median of Wacker Drive on Saturday when a helicopter lift did not go exactly as planned.

The Sikorsky S-58T twin-turbine helicopter, employed by Midwest Helicopter Airways, had to abort its fifth and final trip due to unspecified issues on the roof of 205 West Wacker, a 25-floor commercial office building formerly known as Engineering Building.

The load was gently set down on Wacker Drive. The helicopter flew off but returned shortly to finish the job.

Jim Triggs, director of operations for Midwest Helicopter Airways, says there was never any actual emergency.

“The mechanic wanted to look at the helicopter to check something out,” said Triggs on Monday. “That was our planned [landing zone] if we needed one. All worked out good.”

A short stretch of Wacker Drive was closed to traffic and pedestrians between Wells Street and Franklin Street from about 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The helicopter is no stranger to the Chicago riverfront. It has delivered steel beams to the roof of Merchandise Mart and to the roof of theWit hotel. It helped take down each letter in the Unitrin sign on the north and south sides of One East Wacker Drive and one week later, lower into place each letter of the new Kemper signs. In 2010, the helicopter delivered camera gear to the roof of 35 East Wacker Drive during filming of Transformers 3.

Story and photo gallery: