IamA News Helicopter Pilot/Reporter Bruce Haffner redditing live, flying in the chopper over Phoenix this morning AMA!
My short bio: News Helicopter Pilot/Reporter for 20 years in Phoenix, Arizona.
My Proof: https://twitter.com/chopperguyhd/status/472380097953947648
Edit: My photographer is typing my responses when in flight :) Thanks for all the awesome questions: http://youtu.be/RHABjUpRQ8c
Every chance I get ;)
Bruce, when I was in 5th grade like 20 some-odd years ago you visited my school by landing your helicopter in our playground field and then talking to all the kids. It was seriously the highlight of my childhood and I talked about it for years lol. Thank you for that.
EDIT: It was more like 13 years ago. But it feels like 20.
Funny story.. that's how I fell in love with helicopters - after a pilot landed one at my school in first grade :)
Hey Bruce! Keep up the good work!
Wait.. When you said you were doing this AMA from the helicopter I kinda thought your were just being funny..
You're actually doing this AMA from a helicopter. Well holy shit.
Helicopter in the sky.... it can fly twice as hiiiiiiiiighhhh..... ahem sorry... a bit of the LeVar Burton AMA leftover from yesterday...
THAT was a great AMA.
Bruce am I correct in remembering that your predecessor was fired after they cut to him and he was snorting coke in the chopper on the morning broadcast?
Something like that :)
My photographer is texting my replies. I can also reply when on the ground. Safety is very important to me.
How has news choppering in the valley changed following the 2007 incident? Are there new electronic systems in place, or simply updated safety procedures?
Updated safety procedures. There was nothing changed in the regulations, but all helicopter operators are tenacious talking on the helicopter frequency air-to-air, announcing their positions, and talking to other pilots in the area. 'Talk, See, and Avoid Tactics'
Phoenician here. When I am looking up at you angrily from the shitty traffic that I am in, do you look back and laugh?
Hi there. Have you ever aided the police in a fugitive type situation?
Yes commonly. Sometimes we spot the suspect with our camera, sometimes we are over the scene before the police or fire are there. Sometimes fire asks us to check hard to reach areas for fire. We've also looked down into cars where SWAT can't see to check if suspects have weapons in the footwells or console.
How often do you fly for your job? Are flights scheduled ahead of time, or do you get sent up when something particularly newsworthy is happening?
Every weekday morning. 3-4 hours each morning.
Any cool stories? Insane? Funny?
- A car chase with 3 carjackings, 3 collisions, and shooting at police.
- I've had the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus fly with me in the chopper
- Luis Gonzales after his winning hit in the 2001 World Series
- I've had all the mascots for Arizona's sports teams fly in the chopper on TV.
- Every Day there's something new and crazy and exciting and sad and insane happening, and we capture it all from the air.
Can you see my parents?
Funny you ask.. I just flew over their home... And everyone else's in Phoenix ;)
Bruce, I just wanted to say that I've been watching you flying over Phoenix since I was 3 years old. I grew up watching you on the sky and I'd always wave if I saw you fly overhead. The things you show us from the sky and the dedication you have to your job mean a lot to me, and your viewers. I remember when we lost Scott & Jim in that horrible crash, and you weren't up in the air for what seemed like an eternity, and it didn't feel the same, and I'm so happy your back up in the chopper. Keep doing what you're doing and know that you have really touched a lot of lives in a good way, hope to meet you one day friend.
Edit: Thank You. This means a lot to me.
Doing a retrospective on my career on TV right NOW.
You have what would be many people's dream job. Is it yours? If not, what did you want to be when you were a little kid? Why?
Fly safe!! : )
As I always say, this sure beats working for a living! and 'I should get paid for this!' :) Seriously, it is the greatest job in the world! I got my love of helicopters - after a helicopter pilot visited my school in first grade. Now I enjoy flying around to schools and encouraging kids to dream big!
How much does it cost per flight?
Have you ever had any scary moments with mechanical failures? The idea of being in a helicopter has always terrified me since there isn't much you can do if the engine stops. Is auto rotation something that helicopter pilots are usually taught?
What Harry said. That's why i like flying helicopters.
What is your educational background and how did you get this job?
ASU graduate (go Devils!) in Journalism, started as a photographer/cameraman, instantly got hooked on flying in the news chopper, got pilot's license, and the rest is history.
Bruce, what's my commute like this morning?
Seriously, though, thank you for being awesome!
No, YOU'RE awesome.
What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Baskin Robbins Jamocha Almond Fudge
No questions, just a hello from the 51 and Cactus Rd.!
Enjoy another one of our (perpetually) sunny days
Do you fly for any particular station or more independent work that you can give to any broadcaster you like?
I also fly a lot of aerial production work for everyone from Discovery, History channel, Fox Sports, TV commercials, documentaries and movies. Obligatory plug: http://chopperguy.com
Do you fly the news chopper for this? Does the news bureau rent out its chopper to aspiring aerial film makers?
I actually own this R44, so I use it as often as possible for production projects.
I've provided TV news and features for KTVK Channel 3 in Phoenix for 20 years
Being up in the sky looking down on the houses and yards of Phoenix residents, what's the strangest thing you've seen on the ground? Naked sun bathers? A yard with 40 dogs and an emu?
So YOU'RE the guy with the EMU.
And yes. Naked sunbathers. Everywhere.
I work on a weather program for the FAA and our meteorologists joke that the WSR-88D radars in Arizona are always broken because they never display any weather (Since you get so little rain) How true is that?
Not sure. All I know is the sun is out every day, but I check weather anyway.
What do you do the rest of they day after flying for 3-4 hours?
We shoot TV commercials, documentaries, and other production work, and detail the chopper. Edit video and think of new cool stuff to do with the chopper. It is great owning a chopper with an awesome camera (his name is Elvis).
Sorry to hear that KTVK grounded you. Hope everything works out! http://ftvlive.com/todays-news/2014/5/30/out-the-door-in-phoenix
Its all good. We have exciting opportunities to shoot production work for movies and commercials for now. Pluggity-plug: http://chopperguy.com :)
How's the weather?
Beautiful and sunny early summer day in AZ
What's the worst weather you've had in AZ, and how'd it affect your coverage of stories?
Funny, most pilots land when the weather gets bad...the TV stations launch us immediately to show storms on TV. But it's the pilots final decision as to go/no-go on a flight.
Hi, person from Germany here, we don´t have News Helicopters here. What is the job of a News Helicopter Pilot? Like what is the use? I´m sorry if that sounds weird, it´s just a genuine question.
Our helicopter is a tripod in the sky. The pilot steers the tripod around, and the photographer/reporter tells the story with the camera. This is the best way to tell certain stories. We provide a service to our viewers by showing them the traffic backups, weather and other public safetey concerns from a unique vantage point that instantly answers the question 'how will I be affected'.
How do you feel about sharing airspace with commercially operated remotely controlled helicopters?
This is a great question that has been asked a few different ways.
I think its a discussion we need to have - about whether there should be regulations on RC helicopters flying in the same airspace as manned aircraft. Under the right circumstances an RC helicopter could certainly damage a small manned aircraft, but so far, they aren't often up as high as we fly. I can imagine the need for tighter regulations as they become more commonplace though.
Is there a great climate control in there, it must get hot in AZ!
This R44 has best A/C of any helicopter I've ever flown.
Are you always flying? I mean... if it were a very slow news day, do they still send you up??
If you aren't in the air, do you do anything else or is your job strictly flying?
In the air every morning, and when it's slow, we find really cool stuff. If it looks like something the viewers would like, we shoot it. We also monitor police/fire scanners
What's the most danger you've ever been in in your line of work?
As pilots we accept the inherent risk associated with flying a man made machine, with a bunch of moving parts, keeping us in the air, high above the ground.
Mechanical failures are scary. But we try to fly safe.
Any advice for an Army pilot interested in becoming a news pilot?
Apply, there are many servicemen and women flying choppers. Thanks for your service protecting our freedom.
Does the chopper have a.c.? I can only imagine how hot it must get up there if you don't have some sort of air conditioning.
Best. A/C. EVER.
Did you see me waving?
I thought that was you!
Hey Bruce! Tempe resident and ASU student here. Have you flown through any of the wildfires through out the years or our infamous haboob?
Wildfires. Check. And yes, we've seen some big Haboobs :) * http://imgur.com/OGqTk9f * http://imgur.com/x9QXJQS
I see you have a pilots license, do you have one for plans as well our does it just apply to the helicopter?
Commercial instrument helicopter and private plane.
What's your favorite spot to fly over in the city? There are some beautiful views... would your photog be able to send us a nice shot of what the city looks like from your perspective?
Camelback Mountain. On any given morning, you may be on the news if you make it to the top! http://imgur.com/4LDwkin
Do you and Detour Dan ever have any traffic challenges, like who can get to the most problematic areas first?
We are all friendly, and have a friendly competition to cover the stories well.
Yea thanks for representing Phoenix! What is your favorite time of day to fly? I would love to fly during sunset time or sunrises every day! What is the most amazing weather event you've seen from the skies?
It's always a great time to fly. The golden hours are the best to avoid the flat midday light.
Hey Bruce! I was the guy at the Scottsdale FSDO who helped you with your motion picture manual. Have you been putting that to good use recently? I am no longer with the FAA, I went back to flying. Good to see you doing an IAMA!
Thanks for the help on the manual! Putting it to good use!
have you seen anyone get shot yet?
Oh yes. Always a sad/dangerous situation.
Hi Bruce, Ever done any aerobatics in your chopper?
What kind of helicopter do you pilot?
I've flown a variety. Right now it's a Robinson R44. 10,000 hrs in a $3million AStar.
I have wondered this for ages. Are you familiar with traffic wave patterns? If so, do you see them from the air and kind of smile hopelessly about how drivers are creating problems for themselves? I see them on the ground and from above it's got to be pretty hilarious to watch!
Cool AMA, stay safe!
It is maddening from the air. Lots if congestion for no good reason.
You said that you fly every morning for 3-4 hours. Is this because it syncs with morning news shows? Is there another pilot/photo team that go up in the evening because I would think that would be the busiest time and would afford the most action shots.
We are in in the air for most of the Good Morning Arizona show in the air so that we are first over a scene, and we've broken stories by being in the air instead of waiting to launch on a story and we are on call if needed in the afternoon/ evening.
Where does the funding come from to afford four hour flights weekly, since I don't imagine news networks generating revenue from "customers"?
Also, what kind of equipment are you on? Picture looks like an R44 Raven.
We sold a sponsorship of the helicopter, so it's always the 'Fort McDowell Casino' news chopper. Here's a quick photo of our current setup: http://imgur.com/I1Ro7UI
Hi Bruce! Would you say you're more familiar with the valley from above or on the ground? How often do you drive somewhere new and say "oh so this is what the sides of the buildings look like here."?
PHX wouldn't be the same without you. Keep up the good work.
All the time, I'm unfamiliar with stuff from the ground view
Have you ever dropped a bagel from your chopper?
Usually too hungry for that.
So who is your favorite broadcaster in Phoenix to 'throw it back to' ? :)
Scott Pasmore - a great guy.
What was the best trip you went on as a news helicopter pilot/reporter?
A two day trip flying low level all the way up the coast from Newport Beach California to Seattle Washington and legally flying under the Golden Gate Bridge during the flight. We saw whales, dolphins and incredible scenery like orbiting around the Hearst Castle and low through NAPA Valley. What a view from up here!
How often do you use the expression "Get to the chopper"?
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