This is were Griffin Communication became a vital link in this process. To provide a video link from a helicopter back to ground control. Giving the Coast Guard the same advantage that news stations with helicopters have had for many years.
Using the technology that we have gather over the years working for all the major television networks. In a moments notice, Griffin Communications was able to put a video link together, using a helicopter from Tex-Air, of Houston, Texas, piloted by Pat Mc Hough, a retired Coast Guard pilot, and an accomplished aerial photography pilot, which can truly make the difference in a project such as this.
With a Tyler Nose Mount, on a Bell 206
helicopter and a portable microwave system provided by A.V.S.,
of Los Angeles, Ca. Their operator Will Whittaker, with a great
deal of experience was able to mount the system on the helicopter
very quickly and racing to the command center and setting up the
down link system for this operation.
(Will is also an actor and can be seen in several major films, in background scenes, but the job he did in Galveston, was no act, he is a true professional.)
We where able to put the leaders of the Coast Guard into the scene through live video, beamed back to the command center. The Coast Guard has taken advantage of using this link to supervise and coordinate their teams of specialists.
Their plan is very controversial because it requires the burning of oil before it pollutes the environment, this can only be achieved in remote locations and within 12 hours after the spill. This means that rapid response by Griffin Communications, of Austin, Texas, and other contractors is crucial.
At this time the Coast Guard Research Division is conducting a series of experimental exercises, off the Coast of Galveston, Texas. The first one was 4/19/99, and was a great success. We are taking the lessons learned from that first successful experiment and are already preparing for the next series in October.
As soon as Producer David P. Griffin, learned the requirements of the Coast Guard, he knew this could be a difficult assignment, having to bring so many different elements of our business tog ]ether on such short notice. The most difficult part was finding A. V. S., who provided the micro-wave link. Because most of the systems that are in use today, are permanent attachments as in news helicopters, that are owned by television stations.
The only part that was easy was hiring Lee Gonzales; of Dallas, Texas as Cinematographer, with his experience in this type of work. we had complete confidence in Lee's ability to sit in a helicopter all day, hovering over an oil fire if necessary. Although in this first exercise 6 tons of oranges were used as a substitute for oil we still needed someone we could count on for the real thing. Lee, is our man.