November 6, 2007

News Helicopter Soars

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)
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The Bell 206B JetRanger III news helicopter being installed at the Newseum. (Maria Bryk)

WASHINGTON — Morning commuters navigating heavy traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue recently got a startling sight: a news helicopter flying right through the front doors of a brand-new glass building.

It may have looked dramatic, but for Newseum workers, it was just another day of construction.

The Bell 206B JetRanger III, one of the world’s most popular news helicopters, is not the easiest thing to unload from a flatbed truck in the middle of morning traffic. The 3,000-pound aircraft, donated by Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., is one of two icons of modern communication that will be suspended from the ceiling of the Newseum’s 90-foot-high atrium. A replica of one of NASA’s original communications satellites will share airspace with the helicopter. It will be installed later this month.

Balancing such an unevenly weighted object was a challenge for the United Rigging Co., which also installed other major artifacts in the Newseum, including eight sections of the Berlin Wall.

The JetRanger — its engine removed to lighten the load — appeared tail-heavy. But the riggers ably balanced the helicopter, lowered it onto casters and carefully wheeled it through the museum’s front doors. The helicopter is now securely suspended from the atrium’s ceiling.

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