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World's Second Largest Helicopter Makes Drop in Smoky Mountains

By Jeaneane Payne

world's second largest helicopterThe world's second largest helicopter made a drop in the Great Smoky Mountains on March 28, 2011. At 8:11 a.m. EST an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter began installing a large air conditioning unit on the rooftop of Harrah's Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, NC. The unit was in three pieces, and each piece had to be dropped individually onto the roof and precisely placed.

Built in 1969, the Erickson Air-Crane helicopter can lift up to 20,000 lbs.

The helicopter's flight path began at the lower casino parking lot then went over the mountain behind casino, looped around, and came over the parking garage to make the drops.

The monstrous helicopter was a wonder to behold, and its sound was deafening.

The Erickson S-64 Aircrane is manufactured by Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated which is headquartered in Central Point, Oregon. The aircraft was originally manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft as the S-64A "Skycrane" and sold to the U.S. Army as the CH-54A "Tarhe". The CH-54 performed with an outstanding service record in Vietnam supporting the Army's First Cavalry Division, Airmobile, by retrieving over 380 damaged aircraft, saving an estimated $210 million. The S-64 was the first helicopter built as a flying crane with an aft-facing pilot station that gives the pilot an unobstructed view of the load being carried and full positive control of the aircraft during precision operations.

world's largest helicopter

The rotor system consists of a six-blade fully articulated main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor. The S-64E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney turbine engines generating a combined maximum takeoff rating of 9,000 SHP, giving the S-64E model an external load lift capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) at sea level. The S-64F features a strengthened airframe, a rotor system with longer chord length, and two Pratt and Whitney engines rated at 9,600 SHP which gives the S-64F model an external load capacity of 25,000 pounds (11,340 kg) at sea level.

Published March 28, 2011

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