Sky 5 Retrospective

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Happy Birthday, Sky 5!  What an incredible journey you've made over the last 30 Years!   I remember your diaper day. I was working as news director for WRAL FM and the North Carolina News Network. WRAL General Manager John Greene invited me to do a series of voice promos for the craft. “Look up for Sky Five!”   Yes, that was my voice.

After joining the television news department in 1984 I had the pleasure of frequently flying Sky 5. My environmental news beat had me flying to the coast several times each week including that wonderful trip with Walter Cronkite that I mentioned in a blog last week. One of my all-time favorite trips was a summer sunrise journey up the coast where we videotaped each North Carolina lighthouse. The views were stunningly beautiful. On the other end of the spectrum we once landed on the ridge of Mt. Mitchell one warm January day to observe the devastating impact of acid rain and ozone pollution. That same trip we flew into Tennessee following the trail of industrial pollution to some huge smokestacks.

Another memorable trip was to the mountains of NC one early December to do a story on Christmas tree farming. We flew into a beautiful snow storm that coated the hills of Avery County. What a glorious landscape!

Photographer Jay Jennings, Pilot Steve Wiley and I also had a memorable trip near Beaufort covering a Greenpeace protest. We opened the story with a cinematic sweep of wild horses and then dissolved to a giant oil platform erected by the environmental protest group.

I can’t begin to count the times we would fly to the coast and Steve would drop off a photographer and me to work on a news story. It never failed. Some kind resident would always come by and pick us up and take us where we needed to go. I used to call them “angels of the road.” Once on what seemed to be the coldest day of winter I was dropped off on a tiny island near Nags Head to do a live shot on the re-opening of the Bonner Bridge. The wind almost knocked me over. But photographer Art Howard and I managed to make the broadcast.

Once while working late on a news story I realized I wouldn’t be able to make my speaking engagement at a Lillington church. No problem! It was Sky Five to the rescue. I was dropped off in dramatic fashion in the front yard of the church with two minutes to spare. Church members still talk about that trip today!

I am extremely grateful for the tremendous work of Pilot Steve Wiley over all these years! Steve is an awesome pilot and wonderful traveling companion.

What are your favorite memories of Sky Five? Please share!

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