Update: Checking on the helicopter – police say it’s not them

June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm | In Helicopter, West Seattle news | 87 Comments

helicopterwatch.png11 PM: In the past few minutes, we’ve received reports of a helicopter heard/seen over White Center, Highland Park, Arbor Heights – checking to find out what’s up.

11:07 PM: We don’t know for sure if it’s law enforcement. We have gone out to try to see where it’s focused, but it’s doing very long loops – not concentrating on any one area – from the Sound, back inland a ways, and then outbound again.

11:20 PM: Sorry to say we still don’t know. Have been tracking it from the ground but that hasn’t yielded anything obvious; nothing working in this area on the scanner, and nothing on the 911 (SFD) log indicating anything injurious.

11:24 PM: Seattle Police Southwest Precinct Lt. Alan Williams checked on this and says SPD does not have Guardian One up for anything. So either it’s King County Sheriff’s Office *or* not law enforcement.


  1. Thank you for checking. It’s keeping me up. I knew I count on WSB to be on top of it. Made sure my alarm was set.

    Comment by c.a — 11:03 pm June 14, 2012 #

  2. It’s made four passes over my house in Arbor Heights and I still hear it in the distance.

    Comment by hc — 11:03 pm June 14, 2012 #

  3. The weird thing about this is that it has been a regular late Thursday night occurrence for the past several weeks. Sometimes I see a search light and sometimes I don’t. Tonight I saw the search light.

    Comment by Melissa — 11:04 pm June 14, 2012 #

  4. My dad just drove by labor ready on roxbury and said that there is 3 cops standing outside…. Thats the only info for now…. I am keeping my ear out on the scanner

    Comment by Philip — 11:04 pm June 14, 2012 #

  5. Sunset Heights as well, as of 1 minute ago.

    Comment by DF — 11:04 pm June 14, 2012 #

  6. It’s made several passes so far, but nothing on the 911 scanner. Would like to know what gives.

    Comment by Bunnyfer — 11:06 pm June 14, 2012 #

  7. any news? Still flying over Shorewood…

    Comment by Jane — 11:06 pm June 14, 2012 #

  8. Fifth pass. Seems to be making big circles, including White Center area.

    Comment by hc — 11:07 pm June 14, 2012 #

  9. Thanks; I’ve been wondering down here in white center.

    Comment by Lauren — 11:07 pm June 14, 2012 #

  10. I haven’t seen a search light. It’s flying around in a huge circle.

    Comment by Darren — 11:09 pm June 14, 2012 #

  11. It’s quite relentless. Hope you can find out what it is. Thank you!

    Comment by Gyngersnap — 11:09 pm June 14, 2012 #

  12. Yea… they are definately looking for someone if it is still circling…. I do know like I said there are 3 squad cars on 16th and roxbury by the labor ready…

    Comment by Philip — 11:09 pm June 14, 2012 #

  13. I have not seen the search light on over Arbor Heights. Sounds further south now – Burien?

    Comment by hc — 11:10 pm June 14, 2012 #

  14. Over Gatewood right now…

    Comment by Karla — 11:10 pm June 14, 2012 #

  15. Definitely flying really low and keeps passing over and over. I feel like I live next to the airport. Curious as to what they ars looking for.

    Comment by ws bred — 11:12 pm June 14, 2012 #

  16. about ten mins ago it was doing extremely tight circles from white center all the way to shorewood area…

    Comment by Philip — 11:12 pm June 14, 2012 #

  17. It has made many passes over my house in Arbor heights making me nervous……Please keep us posted Thanks!!!

    Comment by Linda gordon — 11:12 pm June 14, 2012 #

  18. yeah i haven’t seen the search light either. it has passed quite a few times around arbor heights. but it isn’t in a regular pattern.

    Comment by aimymichelle — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  19. Multiple passes over Shorewood. I haven’t seen a spotlight yet.

    Comment by Crissa — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  20. I do know that sometimes they take Air One out for night drills and also to just patrol…

    Comment by Philip — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  21. Right above our house in Gatewood…making me tense! What is this, LA?

    Comment by MRR — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  22. It just flew over my house at highland park

    Comment by mia — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  23. Last low pass, looked like a jet ranger, not a lot of operators of that type around here.

    Comment by westsea — 11:13 pm June 14, 2012 #

  24. That thing is driving me crazy. It’s circling and circling. We are in Gatewood.

    Comment by myohmy — 11:14 pm June 14, 2012 #

  25. Just passed Seaview. Loud.

    Comment by Pamela Sampel — 11:15 pm June 14, 2012 #

  26. Lost track of passes on Thistle. I wish it would stop because it is too loud to sleep! And here it comes again….

    Comment by jk — 11:16 pm June 14, 2012 #

  27. Just passed over us on Delridge and Holden.

    Comment by Tammy — 11:16 pm June 14, 2012 #

  28. Just flew over Findlay & California.

    Comment by Neighbor — 11:16 pm June 14, 2012 #

  29. Flying over Sealth right now (of course school is out being the middle of the night)

    Comment by sealth — 11:16 pm June 14, 2012 #

  30. over gatewood now – seems to be making a loop from 35th down to california and back around – interesting pattern.

    Comment by gatewood girl — 11:16 pm June 14, 2012 #

  31. Loud and clear near SW Morgan St / Sylvan Way. Glad you guys are on it so fast!

    Comment by Trickycoolj — 11:18 pm June 14, 2012 #

  32. It’s making short deliberate circles over high point area; no search light.

    Comment by WTF — 11:19 pm June 14, 2012 #

  33. Two helicopters have been flying between gatewood and the new fire station for the past 15 min. Funny thing is I thought I heard this last night but it was just the street cleaner

    Comment by Cd — 11:19 pm June 14, 2012 #

  34. To the person who suggested there were cops at 16th/Roxbury – we just sent our ground crew there but no police. Keep in mind, we have no proof this is even a law-enforcement chopper – once in a very rare while other kinds of aircraft have been out at this hour – some years back, there was one doing infrared photography at night, strange but true – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:19 pm June 14, 2012 #

  35. Here is info one KC air support unit… They have about 4 helis they run it says…


    Comment by Philip — 11:19 pm June 14, 2012 #

  36. Random loops, No pattern, although it does seem to cover about the same general area in all of it’s passes. No searchlight, and probably moving too fast to effectively use FLIR. Maybe just a night flight, or same kind of sampling.

    Comment by westsea — 11:20 pm June 14, 2012 #

  37. I left Burien at 10:25, copter had been passing over since 10 pm. Followed it up over WC and then onto the sound at the Fauntelroy ferry dock and back around. Easy to watch as i rode my bicycle home. What the heck is up?

    Comment by jen — 11:20 pm June 14, 2012 #

  38. Can I just say, 12 years ago when I moved to Pigeon hill, the helicopters were over that house EVERY night. No joke, every night. Search lights all the time. I was so scared, but now, the helicopters over WC happen less than weekly, and often less than monthly. This is HUGE progress.

    Comment by Vera — 11:22 pm June 14, 2012 #

  39. Lovethe WSBlog. on the second loop I grabbed my phone to see whatsup… of course where else would I go! thank you neighbors!

    Comment by Lee — 11:24 pm June 14, 2012 #

  40. called 911 near arbor height
    they report nothing she called burin 911 no reports there either

    Comment by jack — 11:24 pm June 14, 2012 #

  41. Weird. I keeo hearing them in Burien too, by 5 corners. Flown over a couple times now.

    Comment by Shae — 11:26 pm June 14, 2012 #

  42. Thanks, Jack – I just heard back from the SW Precinct Lt. who is usually our main late-night contact and he says they do not have Guardian One up for anything. Either it was Sheriff’s or NOT law enforcement. Anybody still hearing it? Our ground crew lost track of it. TV stations, by the way, do not fly at night unless something MASSIVE is happening and they have called in a pilot, just in case anyone was wondering – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:27 pm June 14, 2012 #

  43. Ok so if that was NOT law enforcement or TV someone needs to get a grip. Not ok for a joyride.

    Comment by z — 11:29 pm June 14, 2012 #

  44. Hearing it and seeing it right now in Burien. They are flying so low…

    Comment by Shae — 11:31 pm June 14, 2012 #

  45. Gone in Gatewood. Alien abductions :)?

    Comment by MRR — 11:32 pm June 14, 2012 #

  46. Drone? Read Ray Bradbury 451 folks. No, really. Anyway Sea-Tac air traffic control would know?

    Comment by Admiral935 — 11:34 pm June 14, 2012 #

  47. Just regular airport noise now in the Arbor Heights area. Sleepy!

    Comment by Lee — 11:37 pm June 14, 2012 #

  48. Sometimes this is how it ends – we at least rule out the scary stuff. I will try tomorrow to see if somebody can look up the air traffic to find out what it was.

    Comment by WSB — 11:39 pm June 14, 2012 #

  49. I am listening to multiple scanners at the moment and I caught a brief transmission that came across as the following ” FBI aerial unit doing recon in south Seattle ” area End transmission Nothing further…

    Don’t know if the FBI are out flying but that may be the source of the eggbeater flying around.

    Comment by Mike — 11:41 pm June 14, 2012 #

  50. I’m out in Burien & it’s been flying over my house for about an hour and a half now. Kind of odd.

    Comment by Patty — 11:44 pm June 14, 2012 #

  51. still circling over white center

    Comment by m — 11:46 pm June 14, 2012 #

  52. Wishful thinking… still up there… large circles I can only see the northbound loop seems to follow 509

    Comment by Lee — 11:53 pm June 14, 2012 #

  53. Just heard it go by again in AH a couple minutes ago, or am I just imagining it since it feels like a regular WS occurrence these days…?

    Comment by Still flying — 11:54 pm June 14, 2012 #

  54. Still going loud and clear over the border of WC and Burien, around and around. I’m undecided on whether to be nervous or annoyed.

    Comment by Lauren — 11:55 pm June 14, 2012 #

  55. Are they spraying for West Nile?

    Comment by Mike Flynn — 12:02 am June 15, 2012 #

  56. Thanks, Mike. That gives me another person to check with in the morning … wouldn’t normally think feds but given everything we’ve ruled out so far, worth a check.

    Comment by WSB — 12:03 am June 15, 2012 #

  57. Any update on the helicopter???

    Comment by Mel — 12:17 am June 15, 2012 #

  58. This is all we’re going to know for now. I will have about five different places to check when business hours arrive tomorrow but for now, I’m at the end of the info-line.

    Comment by WSB — 12:19 am June 15, 2012 #

  59. Thanks WSB ! Why are we subjected to these odd surveillance over fly’s? I say odd, well, I find it very sad, mostly the anonymity of it. Agencies claiming no-knowledge? Darn wrong, folks.

    Comment by Admiral935 — 2:33 am June 15, 2012 #

  60. TR, et al.
    Thanks again for being our one-stop for info. I wonder if you guys ever sleep. :)

    I’m with most folks here; if disturbing our peace wasn’t for health, rescue, safety, or dignitary protection NOT COOL!

    Comment by WTF — 7:02 am June 15, 2012 #

  61. Is the FBI doing infra-red flyovers looking for meth-labs and marijuana grow rooms? That’s the only reason I can think of that they would do it at night. I saw the chopper, it flew near my house in Arbor Heights several times. No spotlight visible. It was flying in a pattern. Man, the feds are getting more and more invasive.

    Comment by Joe — 7:17 am June 15, 2012 #

  62. I don’t mean to cause panic, but after a couple of fly-bys I retrieved a pair of my high-powered binoculars and observed a propellant being expelled from a small cannister underneath one of the helicopters. About 20 minutes later my dog and I started twitching followed by a strange sensation of wanting to actually re-elect McGinn.

    Comment by Frank — 7:29 am June 15, 2012 #

  63. Earlier yesterday a large green military helicopter flew very, very low over Arbor Heights. I wonder if it’s the same helicopter; also wonder what the heck they’re up to.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:36 am June 15, 2012 #

  64. Someone above mentioned it being a regular Thursday occurrence; I’ve heard a helicopter at night here in mid-Delridge (near the SW precinct) a few nights this week. There was definitely a searchlight being used Wednesday night – went right over my back yard.

    Comment by BeckBe — 7:39 am June 15, 2012 #

  65. Hey…no helicopters but a few seagulls downtown this morning! Conspiracy Theories please

    Comment by Jack Spara — 7:46 am June 15, 2012 #

  66. Again- hovering for a few minutes at 6:15 this morning. Boo- my only day to sleep in.

    Comment by Resident3 — 7:49 am June 15, 2012 #

  67. Really annoying at 11 at night…even more annoying when you have no idea what it was even for. Thanks to WSB for at least trying to figure it out! It was clearly doing/looking for something. I would hope it was something important considering how many people it kept awake on a work/school night.

    Comment by MB — 8:16 am June 15, 2012 #

  68. Whatever we find, we’ll add to this story – I just talked with King County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Cindi West and for a while last night, Guardian One, the area’s only law-enforcement helicopter, was out with KCSO on a search for a missing woman much further south, but she says that ended by 11 – so she’ll check for us on whether G/1 was the chopper here. And I’m checking with other sources … TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:08 am June 15, 2012 #

  69. When I saw it I thought it was green and white. Didn’t see a search light.

    Comment by AH EYES On The SKY — 9:10 am June 15, 2012 #

  70. 1. Why would you call 911 to ask about a helicopter? People, please be smart and call 911 for an actual emergency, not for information. Tying up the line could cause a delay in a true life-threatening situation all because you wanted to know why there’s a helicopter. Common sense, please.
    2. Sound machines. For those who are complaining about sleep interruptions, get one of these: http://amzn.to/LalKTM
    We’ve been using it nightly for 3-5 years now and not once has neighborhood noise woken us up, though we can still hear a knock/doorbell or alarm going off. Best $40 I’ve spent in a while.

    Comment by sacatosh — 9:43 am June 15, 2012 #

  71. I live in Westwood and the helicopter circled its large circles at least 5 or 6 times last night. I couldn’t always see a spot light, but around the 4 or 5th loop a spotlight came through our bedroom window. If it isn’t police, who the hell is it and why in the hell are they shinning spotlights down?

    Comment by Randee — 10:32 am June 15, 2012 #

  72. I have a sound machine for precisely that reason (usually does the trick)…and my room is also in the basement…still heard it. Finally had to break out the earplugs :)

    Comment by MB — 11:22 am June 15, 2012 #

  73. Ok, still with the helicopter? A white/blue helicopter has been flying over AH for the last hour or so. Just went right over my house, pretty low, there was a light on on the underside.

    Comment by Still flying — 11:42 am June 15, 2012 #

  74. This was not a Chinook, much smaller. We get frequent overflights by an ECOStar EC130, very quiet and efficient helicopter, in service as a life flight vehicle here. This was also not that helicopter, which has a very distinct sound due to it’s enclosed tail fan.

    Comment by westsea — 11:54 am June 15, 2012 #

  75. Does the FAA provide information, or Boeing Field? This is all controlled airspace, I assume, and they must have to submit a plan with somebody.

    Comment by dbsea — 12:05 pm June 15, 2012 #

  76. DBS – I have inquiries out through Boeing Field and still waiting for the Sheriff’s Office (which owns the only law-enforcement helo in the area, Guardian One) to provide final word on whether it was or was not their chopper (just because SPD told us they had nothing going on, only meant that they did not have a city-limits search for which G/1 was assisting – it did not rule out the possibility of something in the unincorporated area). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:12 pm June 15, 2012 #

  77. Feds?

    Comment by BMC — 12:45 pm June 15, 2012 #

  78. Sounds like the Sheriff (or FBI?) using the $250K infra-red camera they got with their WTO money to look into peoples’ homes looking for… whatever looks interesting.

    This is the kind of thing the DC cops would do when I lived there. Of course, there were certain neighborhoods they would never get away with pulling that kind of stunt.

    So ya, let’s get sound machines so, you know, we can ignore what’s going on around us that doesn’t harm us personally. It’s not like it’s a gross violation of our privacy or anything.

    Comment by brizone — 1:18 pm June 15, 2012 #

  79. frickin’ Aliens I say!

    Comment by Jack Spara — 2:42 pm June 15, 2012 #

  80. Maybe. King County (Boeing Field) pulled up the flight records and found nothing, though the caveat, they said, was that helicopters may fly too low for detection via their records. Mystery continues … TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:33 pm June 15, 2012 #

  81. Same helicopter was circling in Bonney Lake (South Sound)last night at 2 AM!!

    Comment by ckc — 4:42 pm June 15, 2012 #

  82. It looked the the secret service heli! Looking for ladies of the night!

    Comment by Woodsman — 4:43 pm June 15, 2012 #

  83. What is interesting was the pattern, or lack of pattern that was being flown. The general box seemed fairly large extending well east of Delridge and up over the hill towards the valley, then south and it appeared to be as far north as Alki pt, then west as far as Fauntleroy. I have watched G1 operate in the past around our area and they generally fly tight racetracks around areas. Lifeflight is generally destination oriented, or when landing may be in a holding pattern, also a circuit or race track.
    Orientation flights for either, or for any other helicopter would probably be more patterned as well.
    This one almost seemed to be flying something close to a three leaf clover, with the anchor over Highpoint going either NW to Alki, or SW and approaching again from and area between Thistle and Cloverdale.

    Comment by KingofWestSea — 4:49 pm June 15, 2012 #

  84. Just a thought: followup with the FAA? All aircraft flying must have a transponder that is functioning. The water towers on 35th/Othello are the approach pattern for small aircraft flying into Boeing Field. If there is no record of a helicopter making multiple passes over this area, the FAA should investigate and followup with the blog.

    Comment by Bruce — 9:47 am June 16, 2012 #

  85. Any further update?

    Comment by Lou — 9:51 am June 16, 2012 #

  86. Aside from the FBI angle, which I will have to pursue Monday, as well as another answer I didn’t get, no.

    Comment by WSB — 10:16 am June 16, 2012 #

  87. I agree with Bruce as this airspace is used for Boeing Field out going and incoming flights as with Seatac. FAA would know if something is going on in this airspace. Whether or not they will say anything is a different story. Next time it happens crank up the heat lamps in the garage. If no one shows up at your door you can rule one thing out.

    Comment by Wetone — 12:27 pm June 16, 2012 #

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