More from the ‘in case you wondered’ files: Helicopter activity

If you’re in eastern West Seattle/South Park (or downtown) and noticing an unusual amount of helicopter traffic – a few people have asked about it – it’s a drill, and it’s scheduled to continue a few more hours. The explanation from the Seattle Fire Department:

Multiple Puget Sound public safety agencies are teaming up to practice a rooftop firefighting/rescue drill off a high rise skyscraper. The drill involves lowering firefighters and firefighting/rescue equipment from helicopters onto the roof of the 50-story Safeco Plaza Building in downtown Seattle.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter will lower 6 members of the High Rise Firefighting/Rescue Team onto the roof of the Safeco Plaza Building. King County Sheriff’s Office will fly their Guardian One helicopter over the operation in order to videotape and downlink a live feed of the operation that will be received at the Incident Command post at the City’s Joint Training Facility.

The exercises will demonstrate the ability of the Seattle Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Regional Aviation partner organizations to work together. The participating partners will emphasize aviation safety in the air and on the ground.

7 Replies to "More from the 'in case you wondered' files: Helicopter activity"

  • Kay K October 16, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    Thank you WSB! We were speculating that they were delivering the explosives to the viaduct in preparation for the big demo…:)

  • Dana Greenlee October 16, 2011 (2:19 pm)

    Good to know – thanks! We watched both helicopters move slowly in a north-south grid back and forth from our Highland Park home. The grid seemed to be somewhat over the 99 and 509 highways in the vicinity of the 1st Ave. Bridge and a bit west of Boeing Field. We counted about five N/S sweeps. One helicopter dangled a very long cable and the other had a similar cable but with a dark triangle-shaped object at the end. We guessed there were on the radiation-monitoring mission from earlier in the year, maybe doing a comparison sampling. If that wasn’t the case, it’s nice to know they were working to make safer rescues. Yet I do ponder why they were spending a fair amount of time in these slow sweeps over Highland Park rather than in the skyscraper zone

  • Carol Anne October 16, 2011 (4:30 pm)

    Thanks for the information. I live on First Hill with a southern view. I could hear the copter(s), but not see them. I’m glad it was an exercise.

  • miws October 16, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    It/they were pretty much crossing directly over Nickelsville. There was plenty of speculation, and my first thought was radiation detection as well.


    One NV resident is quite knowledgeable about the various aircraft, and said that knowing how big the chopper was sitting on the ground, he speculated the load to be the size of what could fit in the bed of a large pick-up truck.

    Another resident then came back from downtown and said he’d seen a chopper “… hovering over one of the buildings….”, so then the speculation turned to replacement of some kind of rooftop HVAC parts/equipment, or perhaps elevator motors.


    Logged on here, (actually probably just minutes before this story was published), and wondered if maybe it was far enough away from the more densely populated areas, that it wasn’t really noticed, (or, perhaps, helicopters have become too ubiquitous? ;-) )


    Anyway, I then talked to another resident that said she’d read/heard elsewhere that it was training.


    Made for an entertaining late morning and early afternoon!



  • Don't get out much October 17, 2011 (6:42 am)

    There’s a Safeco building downtown? Did they take over something?

  • Tony October 17, 2011 (10:21 am)

    “There’s a Safeco building downtown? Did they take over something?”

    It’s the Box the Space Needle came in.

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