Skating, Hockey & Flying Come Together Beautifully
Bradley Friesen, helicopter adventurer, also known as iamkokonutz to his web followers, takes his Robinson helicopter into some of the most beautiful places for sports shoots.
This week he's added former Canadian World Champion and Olympic Alternate, Elizabeth Putnam to his growing collection. (Video 1 below)
After posting video taken from above a group playing hockey two years ago he became an on-line sensation. A few weeks ago he added another called 'Heli-Hockey, Backcountry Skating on Black Glass!' (see video 2 below) Filmed during late winter 2015 in Golden Ears Provincial Park, British Columbia, he flew his R44 above and around former NHL Draft Pick, Brett Draney and NHL Skating Coach, Derek Popke playing on some of the nicest ice ever seen.
After some viewers raised concerns that his first Hockey video wasn't done safely Friesen defended himself by sending an email to Transport Canada (see below) and by publishing a 'how-it-was-made' video. (see video 3 below).
“I’m sure this is unusual for a pilot to essentially call enforcement on himself, but I put a video online yesterday that I feel might need some explanation. I truly believe it was done in a safe, and responsible manner, without danger to the aircraft or crew-members on the “ground”. Since the video is already generating a lot of World Wide views, I figured it would be best to show you and explain how the video was done.
So, Saturday morning, I took off at 6:30am, and flew up to inspect lakes for the perfect hockey game. I found the exact lake I was looking for, landed on a small raised beach and chopped through the ice with a hatchet and measured. Like I suspected, the ice was more than 10? thick. By the farmers almanac ice safety chart, that’s thick enough to safely support the weight of a 3.5 ton medium sized truck. More than enough to support the weight of skaters and a light helicopter.
I flew back to YPK, and met 4 buddies who are former WHL hockey players. I flew them 2 at a time back to the lake, and filmed them skating and playing hockey.
During the day, I tested several landings on the ice with the helicopter maintaining a forward speed of 15kts, and sliding with 100-150lbs of the helicopter’s weight on the ice. Just enough to get the skids of the helicopter flat on the surface, but light enough to rise easily and smoothly back into the air. I found it extremely easy to gauge the ice height, and determined it was safe for me to slide across the ice with the helicopter pointed forward, in the direction of travel. I had a plan for a shot I wanted to capture the following day with more coordiantion.
When we returned to YPK, we showed pictures and video to other Helicopter pilots who all wanted to be involved in a second day of filming, so, I organized 8 former WHL players and 4 helicopters.
Sunday morning, we all met at YPK for an initial safety briefing, and flew +3 back to the lake with and aStar, H300 and 2 R-44’s. It was -12 overnight, and added more thickness to the sheet. I walked the entire surface with a chainsaw and tape measure, and inspected the whole ice sheet. It was thick all the way across and had no ridges or holes. There was a small section of open water caused by a waterfall at the far end of the lake. We determined a safety line that no skaters were permitted to cross based on our test holes.