One of the cool tools we have at our disposal here at Channel 3 News is "Chopper 3." It's our eye in the sky when covering news stories from another perspective - by air.
Our current helicopter, a Jet Ranger, came on-line last year. Before that, we shared a helicopter (a very tiny helicopter) with WTAM. But to remain competitive with the other news stations in the market - all who have their own choppers - we needed one available anytime news breaks.
"Chopper 3" is currently based out of Burke Lakefront Airport, just across from the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center. In fact when the chopper takes off, you can hear it fly right over top the building.
There is room for the pilot and a reporter in the front seat and a photographer who runs a rack of transmission gear in the back seat. Our chopper is equipped with three on-board cameras including a nose cam, the tail cam and a camera inside to shoot the on-board reporter. These cameras are currently all standard definition, but will be replaced soon with high definition ones.
As a director, we have constant communication with the helicopter via our communications system in the control room. This allows us to easily coordinate with the airborne crew about our needs and when we will come to them during the newscast.
"Chopper 3" also helps us get to a story quicker than we could on the ground...and cover stories that have an impact on the viewer from above...a perspective you don't always always get from shooting at ground level.
Look up in the sky next time you hear a helicopter...It might just be Chopper 3 hovering over your neighborhood.