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When I look at all the modes of transportation in the Upper Peninsula, I can’t help but think that I am involved with one of the best. This of course is just my opinion and it is safe to say I am a little bit biased. I don’t have to deal with stoplights, speed limits or pot- holes and most importantly, there is very little traffic and the view is beautiful. I have the privilege of travers- ing the Northwoods by helicopter. I work as part of a team that provides critical care to sick patients in the helicopter emergency medicine industry. My office operates on average at 2000 ft above the ground and travels at roughly 160 mph. We fly an A-Star as350 built by AirBus helicopters in France. Powered by a sin- gle Turbomeca turbine engine capable of 847 sHP, this machine is capable of speeds up to 180 mph and can carry a payload of 6000lbs. It burns jet fuel at a rate of about 52 gallons per hour of operation giving it an average max range of 360 miles on 1 tank of fuel. This particular model is the only helicopter to summit mount Everest at an altitude 29.029 ft.
It is thrilling work and the views are capti- vating. On the ground the U.P. appears to be extremely hilly with large swings in elevation but once in the air it is surprisingly flat. On a clear day when we lift from our home base in Escanaba, MI we are able to easily see Iron Mountain, Marquette and Manistique. The steam from the paper mills and power plant make these
easy points of reference for us. Although it might lack mountains,theU.P.hasplentyofvastdenseinhabited forests and acres upon acres of untouched wilderness. It is truly hard to appreciate how remote we are until you see it from the sky.
Although beautiful, flying in an environment sand- wiched between two great lakes has its own set of chal- lenges and can be very difficult. We operate under visu- al flight rules which means we must be able to see to fly. The Upper Peninsula has a way of hurling un-fore- casted bad weather your way at the drop of a hat. We have all heard the expression “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes It’ll change”. Well in our world I reduce the 5 minutes to more like 5 seconds. The warm air currents coming off of Lake Michigan and the cold air currents coming off of Lake Superior make for some very interesting weather patterns. Weather is our biggest challenge up here and it is very unpre- dictable and must be respected. We use every weather app available and follow the National Weather Service very closely. We have also become accustomed to using live feed web cams from around the U.P. this gives a real time look at what is happening in an area we might be flying into. Did you know flying into foggy condi- tions inadvertently is one of the industries leading caus- es for helicopter crashes? When you lose all visible hori- zons, you get what is called spatial disorientation and
begin to think you are climbing when really you are in a dive or you may feel like you are in a left turn when really you are banking right. This inner ear trick is deadly and has cost many people their lives.
Equally dangerous to flying helicopters in the North is ice buildup and whiteouts. Our helicopter is not equipped with anti-icing equipment like an airplane so we must avoid icing conditions at all costs. In this
region there is also no shortage of lake effect snow which can quickly drop a white vail over your wind- screen in a matter of seconds so you can see why our area isn’t inundated with helicopters. It has its chal- lenges, but being able to help people in critical times of need and taking in all of the beauty the Upper Penin- sula has to offer on the legs without patients certainly has its rewards.
Transportation in the U.P.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program
embraces a unique approach to sustainable forestry, recognizing that all forest landowners, not just SFI program participants, play a critical role in insuring the long-term health and sustainability of our forests.
Local SFI Partners LOOK for the SFI label.
ASK your local retailer to supply you options
BUY. Choose products that carry a symbol of responsible forestry.
CORE Training
MI Works 2389 S M76, West Branch, MI September 11-12, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM CORE Training
MSUE Office 2840 College Ave., Escanaba, MI September 24, 8:00 AM - Noon
Upcoming SFI Logger Training: September 4-5, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Community Engagement Marquette Town Hall, 7177 E. James St. Pickford, MI
For more information
visit or call (517) 853-8880

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