Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Helicopters and Boys


My life in appalachia helicopter pilots and little boys

In Appalachia we have helicopter pilots who criss cross the mountains ferrying folks who are in need to hospitals which are capable of filling those needs. We also have little boys who think whirlybirds and the people who drive them are pretty cool.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    We happen to be members of the Air-Evac Team, because of our Daughters condition, they are a great bunch of folks, that deserve so much praise for what they do. They have saved countless lives, and they have bases all over the southeast, and will come at a moments notice and even if they are turned back and don’t have to set down there is no charge for their members , if they are in your area I highly recommend for you or your love ones to join, the rates are reasonable because without them a transport from hospital to hospital or from an accident to the hospital, is in the neighborhood of 12 to 14 grand I hear and most insurances don’t cover it.. Our Employer is a member so if they are needed for one of our lineman they are there for us..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Ron – I drove by the BRIDGE facility in Burke County earlier today. It is a cooperative effort between the US Forest Service and the NC Department of Prisons. They train certain youthful offenders in the Helitack program. They have the body of what appears to me to be a Vietnam era Huey mounted on a tower with five or six flights of steps leading up to a platform beside it. The other side of the helicopter is open. I have never been by there when men were actually rappelling out of it but I can see no other purpose for it being there. If you put is the coordinates 35.706659, -81.657860 into Google maps you can see an aerial view of the facility and the helicopter.
    You can read about BRIDGE here As far as I know it is still operating. They even have a Facebook page

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    November 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    For Ron Stephens–properly licensed (FAA Rating) civilians are definitely permitted to fly helicopters at night..
    With over 3000 flying hours in helicopters in Viet Nam (where everyone called them “choppers”), I can say that they are the very best way to get around in mountains, or places with few or poor roads–but the cost is heart stopping!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve seen some of those rescue operations. One landed just in front of me on the Cherohala to get a motorcycle nut that had crashed. He came straight down between the trees with very little clearance for the rotors.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    November 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    You haven’t lived until you have been lifted from the deck of a Destroyer by a Helicopter using a steel wire the diameter of your little finger and then later lowered to the deck of a Different destroyer by the same method. Fun times out on the far Pacific Rim.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve noticed my little dog Whisky lately. When a helicopter comes over at the shop, he sees that booger. And at home of the night, he can hear Big Mama coming way before I can. I wonder what he thinks while starring through the glass door at them. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I call them hellakaflopters!
    I thought about starting a Rent A Kid business. Old men who don’t have a young son or grandson could rent a boy to go with them to look at fascinating machinery. That way they could regress into their own childhood without embarrassment. “Oh, I just brought the boy. I thought he might be interested.”
    We live right near Valdese General Hospital. They have a heliport where trauma patients can be airlifted to Asheville , Charlotte or Winston-Salem. Sometimes at night a helicopter will come directly over our house flying pretty low and shake me awake. I hear and see helicopters around here all the time but when comes in that late and that low, I know somebody is in trouble. Makes it hard to go back to sleep.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 4, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I love helicopters my self. However, it can be scary and heart sinking when you hear distant sirens, that rebound on our hill from the area of Interstate and local highway.
    Then followed in just a matter of minutes. The reverberation of blades and motor shake the house as it just barely tops the trees flying low over our ridge, dropping to a landing spot on the highway, elementary school parking lot, etc. I always say a short prayer, when being wakened in the wee hours of the morning to the sounds of someone’s emergency! I have, like so many others, been there, not in a helicopter but in a ground ambulance, heart pounding, pleading that we get to the ER in time.
    I don’t know how they hang in there like they do, especially when they do see a lot of trauma and knowing their talented flying efforts aid in the hope of saving someone’s loved ones. I don’t know if I could continue to be a helicopter medic unless there were times like the one you picture.
    When young children look up, consider them hero’s, and admire their courage. I am sure that moment with the children make the pilots work feel all the more worthwhile.
    Thanks Tipper…great picture and post!
    and thank you pilots and medics for all your talent and hard work!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 4, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I can see myself standing beside that young fellow and being just as fascinated as he is.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Around here, the girls get just as excited as the boys do when we have low-flying copters almost touching the trees. With all the open land and farms, I suspect they are looking for illegal growing operations. I have a rich neighbor (I’ve never met) who loves to play on his small plane on weekends. He does heart stopping maneuvers right over my house.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 4, 2016 at 9:14 am

    It is not just little boys. I have always been fastenated with helicopters also. I did get to fly in the PA State Police helicopter when our town was surrounded by flood waters. They flew me to Harrisburg to pick up prescriptions for folks who could not get them.
    It was one of those things I will never forget.

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I think they are pretty cool too.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 4, 2016 at 9:05 am

    That sounds familiar. Our grandson stops everything to see a plane or a helicopter.
    We seem to live right in the flight path between Atlanta and the Frank Merrill Army Ranger Camp north of Dahlonega. I assume every copter I hear at night is military because I believe I am right that civilians are not permitted to fly helicopters at night. Sometimes they are rather busy and I wonder what the activity is about.
    During the spring and fall fire seasons, the US Forest Service also has contract helicopters for helitack. They do not, however, rappel to the ground like the military. Helicopters also do water drops with a bucket and can be very effective.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 4, 2016 at 8:20 am

    I enjoyed reading again the stories of the Brown Mountain Lights. We Appalachians are rather good at, if we don’t know the actual scientific explanation, making up stories that explain phenomena.
    It’s part of our story-telling tradition, and after all, the fantasy might be much more interesting than fi we knew the “real” truth!
    And I hope to see and hear the Pressley Girls perform “live” sometime soon! Best wishes to them!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 4, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Yep, helicopters and boys go together!

  • Leave a Reply