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Most Interesting Uses for Helicopters

Helicopters tend to stand out in movies and TV as vehicles designed for battle, transporting patients to hospitals, and dropping off fictional billionaires atop skyscrapers. But helicopters do so much more than that and turn up in some remarkably strange and unusual places. Here’s a selection of the most interesting uses for helicopters in real life.

Aerial Work

While aerial work is a broad way to describe some of the different tasks that helicopters have been called on to perform, it’s an accurate description. Helicopters have been enlisted to crop-dust, drop water and other chemicals on forest fires, inspect power lines and similar utilities in remote areas, and even gather and herd cattle, sheep, horses, and, in Australia, wild buffalo. More recently, the first helicopter, Ingenuity—although unmanned—landed safely on planet Mars and continues to help explore the red planet’s surface.

Saving Lives

Search-and-rescue choppers, of course, fly over remote areas in search of lost hikers, skiers, or disaster survivors. Helicopters continue to act as steel and glass angels, swooping in and lifting out those in trouble—and in places other than deserts, mountains, and oceans. Several skyscraper rescues have occurred in Los Angeles and elsewhere, in which high-rise residents received rooftop rescues from flaming buildings.

Moving Heavy Objects

When the Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, all sorts of ideas were floated, so to speak, about how to get the ship out of the way. At some point, someone suggested using helicopters to shift it. It didn’t happen, but it wasn’t so hard to believe. Helicopters have been called on to move gigantic pieces of equipment where no crane could ever be built. In fact, helicopters performing such duties are called aerial cranes. Antennae, radio towers, HVAC units, fallen trees, and other immense objects have been carried and placed by aerial cranes atop mountains, skyscrapers, and in the middle of forests and other remote areas where no roads exist or could ever be built.

Moving People

When considering the most interesting uses for helicopters, sometimes their most typical use is the most fascinating. Transportation is, of course, a standard helicopter job, but it goes beyond transporting troops, businesspeople, or the President of the United States and his family and staff to Air Force One or elsewhere. Helicopters have been used to deliver oil rig workers to platforms set up in the middle of the sea, as well as the furthest and most frigid reaches of the Arctic and Antarctic.

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