Video Vault: Classic WEWS Chopper 5 promos

Posted at 5:53 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 17:53:33-05

Chopper 5 flew high over the skies of Northeast Ohio covering news during parts of four decades. The folks here at WEWS were pioneers in aerial news gathering since the late 70s.

But my oh my how times and safety considerations have changed.

This 1978 promo shows how we used to hang out of Chopper 5 to shoot videotape as well as live shots.

In the first generation of helicopter, photographers, including yours truly, wore a harness while strapped to a seat belt bracket. We had just enough leeway in the harness to put a foot on the landing skid for support. In the winter, we kneeled down on the chopper floor to shoot out a tiny sliding window.

Also, and don't tell anyone, before an era where the microwave transmitter was mounted to the underside of the chopper, an engineer held the antenna in his hands and pointed it toward the receive point.

Later generations of TV news choppers, including our latest version AirTracker5, have a camera mounted under the nose of the chopper. It's got a much stronger lens with stabilizers and is run by a reporter using a remote control panel while riding in the helicopter's back seat. Much better.

I've posted three versions of the promo voiced over by then-staff announcer Bill Ward, a 30-second spot, a 10-second and a 3-second "billboard" usually used as a top-of-the-hour station ID.

The photographer in the promo is shooting with the workhorse of early TV news video cameras, an RCA TK-76. Be careful not to drop that 20-pound beauty!

Click here to see Chopper 5 being used in an April Fool's Day prank.