unidentified helo traffic

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Hey folks. I drive to and from work every day down MLK, past the Shock-Trauma Center. In the last two weeks, I've spotted a helicopter/helicopter(s) inbound or departing STC which I haven't been able to recognize.

It's a white/off-white Bell Huey variant, possibly a 412 but appearing to carry some kind of heavier fuel tank or equipment between the skids. It has no obvious markings (such as the blue stripes on USPP Eagle One) or paint job (Stat black & gold or MedStar yellow.) And having flown aboard MSP before, I can assure you it's not a Trooper.

Has anyone noticed any traffic on 123.025 that would indicate who this bird is? Or any other non-radio information, for that matter?

FR9
 

maus92

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The "heavier" skids could be inflatable bladders - sometimes helicopters that operate overwater have them in case they have to ditch. As far as who the operator is.....

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maus92

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Oops, misread your post.... There is a radiological survey helicopter that flys around the DC area that sniffs for the bad stuff - that could explain the gear between the skids - but I don't know why it would be landing at Shock Trauma. AA County's big Bells are blue, so that's not it. DSP's are also blue. Could it be a USPP Eagle in an older paint scheme? The Eagles do transport to STC occasionally. The gear that you see could be a tracking microwave transmitter/antenna that is used for downlinking video to the CP.

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wadeless28

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I saw the same helo landing at BWMC (N. Arundel Hosp.) just the other day. For which I suppose was a patient transfer. I tried to get a tail number to identify but was unsuccessful. Next time I hear it when I'm home I will try to get the tail number, or at least some comms off of it.

I would say it is under contract with U. of Md. Hospital.

Mike
 

gcgrotz

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Here's a possibility, but since I'm not there is only a guess. Sometimes when UVA's Pegasus is in for maintenance they use a "loaner" from a company in Richmond. Maybe one of the regular helos is in the shop.
 

maus92

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You could be right about the contract work for UMMS - North Arundel, er... BWMC and University Hospital / STC are part of UMMS. And somewhere I think I read that UMMS has helos for interfacility transports, (operated by PHI) and that they are blue and white - checking....

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jparks29

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maus92 said:
Oops, misread your post.... There is a radiological survey helicopter that flys around the DC area that sniffs for the bad stuff - that could explain the gear between the skids -

NEST?
 
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ExpressCare

Negative, Maus. Sorry. There were no blue markings on it, and the nose on the Expresscare bird is more elongated than the one I saw. The one I saw was definitely white or white/gray, and it had something- still don't know what- positioned between the skids. I've seen it three times so I've been able to watch it from a couple different angles. Any other ideas?
 

maus92

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Yes, NEST was the sniffer theory, but I doubt it was the that ship. And since it doesn't seem to have been the ExpressCare helo either, I'll have to keep looking...

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nope, the bird I saw was most definitely a Huey or Huey variant. And the equipment on the undercarriage wasn't camera gear, like the one above. It was thicker and more nondescript- perhaps a bladder, like the one previously described. When I saw it, the first thing it reminded me of was a roof rack, like you would see on a minivan, except attached to the underbelly, and white.

I had figured there would be a fairly simple answer to this, but it appears this bird is not very commonly recognized....does anyone know what that NEST chopper looks like?
 

maus92

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A bladder between the skids suggests a forestry (firefighting) helicopter - how big would you say the "bladder" is?

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maus92

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Jake, the photo you linked to shows a forestry helicopter, interestingly registered in Germany. The bladder holds either water or fire suppressant chemicals.
 

wadeless28

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I would have to agree with FirstResponder9, Maus. It was a Huey or variant but the helo didnt have that amount of blue markings on the side. I'm thinking it could have been express care, maybe a loaner or a newly purchased one that hasnt been painted up yet.

But I have to say that Channel 4's or 11's or 13's or the NEST helos., they would not be landing at BWMC, or MIEMMS either.

The helo did look to be built out on the belly but it wasnt built out large enough (I think) to hold a large amount of water.

I'm waiting for it again so I can snag a tail number.

Mike
 

maus92

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OK, here's theory #2. PHI operates a fleet of various types of helicopters that support oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to range issues, some of those helicopters carry extra fuel in integral "cheek" tanks that bulge out from sides of the helicopter underneath the doors paralleling the skids. PHI also has a medical group, and that group has a contract with UMMS. Maybe the medical group is using one of these extended range helicopters as a medivac as an interim measure, or is in the process of converting it permanently...?

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