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Old 05-11-2012, 01:39 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Default Helicopter Volvo Race Intercept In the Out Islands


IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race



Lots of us know Jean Paul Robinson or JP from kiting over the years. Some even know him as a skillful professional fixed and rotary wing pilot. He took us to the Berry Islands for an epic kiting day trip for kiting a while back, more at: AMAZING Launch Just An Hour From Florida He is no stranger to flying down the archipelago on a mission in short.




Captain JP strolling off into the distance with Carlos on Great Harbor Cay.
RG Iossi


This time was a bit different, it involved a race, the Vovlo Ocean Race. The race is described as "the world’s toughest and longest ocean race." More about the event follows:

"During the nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concludes in Galway, Ireland, during early July 2012, the teams will sail over 39,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient.

Each of the entries has a sailing team of 11 professional crew and the race requires their utmost skills, physical endurance and competitive spirit as they race day and night for more than 20 days at a time on some of the legs. They will each take on different jobs onboard the boat and on top of these sailing roles, there will be two sailors that have had medical training, as well as a sailmaker, an engineer and a dedicated media crew member."





"During the race the crews will experience life at the extreme: no fresh food is taken onboard so they live off freeze dried fare, they will experience temperature variations from -5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will only take one change of clothes. They will trust their lives to the boat and the skipper and experience hunger and sleep deprivation.

The race is the ultimate mix of world class sporting competition and on the edge adventure, a unique blend of onshore glamour with offshore drama and endurance.

It is undeniably the world’s premier global race and one of the most demanding team sporting events in the world."
http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/the..._Overview.html


JP had an assignment, to fly photographer Ian Roman with an external gyrostabilized camera on his helicopter, 140 miles roundtrip into the Out Islands of the Bahamas. He was to do this just in time to allow Roman to frame some epic images of the lead sailboat, Puma Ocean Racing, passing by Great Issac Lighthouse on Northwest Providence Channel. JP expected to have about a 20 minute flight/fuel envelop to take the shots within. The helicopter normally cruises at 130 kts. but with the drag of the camera pod that drops to 90 kts. Tricky, to say the least!




That is a lot of open water to navigate across in a helicopter.




Great Issac Cay and the abandoned lighthouse settlement.
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race


The target zone, Great Issac Cay and the lighthouse. The 152 ft. high lighthouse was constructed in 1859 in response to lost shipping on the reefs and cays in the area. Old news accounts of lost ships, lives and cargo can be found in newspaper archives in the area of Issacs. An early wreck was the Dutchman, "Jufron Gertrud" which struck in 1694 carrying 74,000 pieces of eight in her cargo. Strangeness haunts this stark place, from missing lighthouse keepers, talk of ghosts and more. Save us from Chas. Berlitz and sappy tales of the Bermuda Triangle. I understand the diving and fishing are good in the area however. Lots of coral pinnacles and clear blue water.




IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race


I asked JP about the logistics involved with pulling off such an intercept during a flight to another country with a moving target. His comments follow:

"We got a lot of help from race control, the website had a race tracker that updated the boat's position every few hours with average wind and boat speeds, but we were getting better estimates every 30 minutes, we were at the airport ready to take off at 5:30 am, and if necessary would depart at first twilight around 6:10 am, we consulted with race control all morning starting at 4 am, we were finally given a 25 minute window of opportunity at 6:15 am, their best estimate given the last know boat speed, was for rounding of the light between 7:25 am and 7:50 am, we went with 7:40 am, I calculated our ground speed would be about 90 kts given the drag of the camera and the light sw wind, and that the trip would take 48 minutes.

So we factured in the time to start the engine, 2 minutes, get the camera gyros spooled up 5 minutes, (we can't fly unless the gyros are spooled up to 100%) and decided to be lifting off at 6:45 am, so we were strapped in 100% ready to go at 6:40 am. I pressed the starter button and started the turbine ignition sequence at 6:45 am

I told the crew that we would check our time at arrival at great Issac, double it, and subtract that from our two hour endurance and that would be our time on station, we had fuel waiting at a secure landing zone at Miami Seaquarium 12 minutes closer that our departure point, Tamiami Airport, so I didn't have to factor in a predicted strengthening headwind into the return flight time, it tooks us 48 minutes to get there, I gave them 24 minues on station, we stayed 22 minutes,

We thought we were early and were looking east of the light we finally spotted the Puma boat just northwest of the light, so we calculate that it was north of the light at around 7:30am. Needless to stay emotions were high inside the helicopter knowing that all our efforts had paid off. After tracking the boat online from Brazil for days, it was an awe inspiring sight to see the actual beast, cleaving the pristine waters of the Bahamas on it's final let into Miami.

We had no time to waste to get in position and capture the images, the boat was moving away from Great Issac light at a brisk pace. I flew north of the boat put the light house behind it, with stills firing and the HD video camera rolling our very first pass turned out to be the best of the morning, I followed the photogs instructions and worked the lighthouse into the foreground with the boat in the distance, while keeping on eye on my watch.

We landed at the seaquarium on Virginia Key with 20 minutes of fuel remaining, the FAA required minimum, we had 2:20 minutes of total endurance.

I filed an international DVFR flight plan to nowhere, Tamiami Airport to Tamiami Airport, even though we were returning to the Seaquarium, we were not required to clear customs in either direction, I was given a radar identification code since we would be penetrating the US Defense Identification Zone, that way we where a know target out there, we couldn't land on the island without clearing customs in Bimini first, there is no Jet fuel there so a deviation would use up valuable fuel and even if we could have done it we would have had to clear customs in the US and that would have taken up valuable time and risk missing the boats arriving in Miami so we decided that the only option was to dash out and hope for the best."


It worked out, way to go JP!




Here is a shot of JP and the helicopter with a different camera setup at an earlier time.




Nicely framed and flown shot!
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race




The Puma under sail running down to Miami from Brazil via the Northwest Providence Channel and into the Florida Straits.
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race




The vessel "Camper" runs past.
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race


We have upgraded the site with Cooliris Imaging, you can checkout the photos in this post in that format at:
http://bit.ly/JknKXv



Moving into Miami and Government Cut to the finish, for this leg.
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race




A shot up SoBe with the Puma in a sea of welcoming boats.
IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race





Great shooting Ian! You should visit his website, he specializes in high end sailboat photography and has some amazing captures at http://www.ianroman.com/ .




JP on Great Harbour Cay just before taking off to return to Florida on a fun day trip for the kitesurfers.


Excellent piloting and navigation JP, all that open water, variable conditions but you were on time with fuel to spare. Way to go! He performed this job for Camera Copters through his company, Advanced Aerospace Consultants, Inc.. You can reach Jean Paul (JP) Robinson through: jeanpaul.robinson (at) att.net As he says, "the sky is not the limit, it is my playground."

.
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Last edited by RickI; 05-11-2012 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 05-11-2012, 02:51 PM
toykites toykites is offline
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Default Volvo Ocean Race

One of the technical support crew from the UK was here in St. Augustine for a little while waiting for the boat to be delivered to Savannah by ship after sustaining major damage off Brazil in the last leg of the race. He was explaining to me the canted keel and how the boats can reach speeds of over 40 knots and cover 580 miles in a single day in the right conditions. Talk about technology!

Have you seen the PUMA SUP race board that they designed matching the boat with Laird Hamilton? That thing is bad to the bone!!!
http://www.thecarbonfiberjournal.com/?p=1290
http://www.supthemag.com/news/indust...ard-with-puma/
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:04 PM
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That is some amazing speed Eddie! These boats really go through the mill as well as you say. Thanks for putting up the links on the boards I hadn't heard about that. Check out the color and pattern coordination. I just drove by the sailing village in Miami. They put a lot of energy into this.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:52 PM
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Default 511NM in 24 hours

Hey Rick/Eddie,

The USA sponsored Puma boat that won this leg won the IWC Shaffhausen Speed Record Challenge Trophy awarded to the boat that covers the most distance in 24 hours on each leg, Puma covered 511 NM on May 3rd, while blasting up the Windward Islands.!

Eddie, Thanks for the info on Laird H. working with Puma on the carbon fiber board, I'm interested.

Rick, When you asked for some photos and details about the photo shoot at Great Issac Light, I didn't realize you were going to put this up, very cool!

We're overdue for another run out to the Islands, we better plan something before the next bundle of joy arrives via Stork.

JP
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Last edited by 500EPILOT; 05-12-2012 at 07:01 PM. Reason: add Eddie in thread
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:23 AM
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Thanks and sounds like a great idea to me JP! I have to keep an Eye out for incoming storks in the interim. Just saw the fleet leaving the port of Miami presumably for the last leg of the race. Those are some fast sailboats.
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