Using helicopters to harvest Christmas trees - difficult?

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Hi Philip, There's a slew of videos on YouTube of using helicopters to shuttle Christmas trees to nearby trucks. Is the level of pilot skill (and risk) on display here particularly high, or is this just another gig for the journeyman chopper pilot? The economics on display here are interesting. I guess the extra yield afforded by not building interior roadways in the farm covers the higher hourly cost of using helicopters to load the trees. Thanks, jp

-- J. Peterson, January 13, 2015


The first video there shows an amazing level of skill from my point of view. The typical long-line operation proceeds extremely slowly. It is tricky because the helicopter hangs like a pendulum from the rotor system and then the load hangs as a second pendulum from the helicopter. So this pilot is perfectly judging how the second pendulum will swing.

It is somewhat easier with a heavy load like a tree, I think, than with the typical civilian practice loads. But this is not something that a regular air tour, oil rig, or police helicopter pilot could do. (And I couldn't do it!)

-- Philip Greenspun, January 13, 2015