Helicopter lift job turns into a community event

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Twenty-four minutes and nine seconds; that’s how long it took Remote Helicopters to remove four air-conditioning units off the roof of Slave Lake’s No Frills on the evening of April 26, relocate two of them and hoist a new one into place.

That down-to-the-second information comes from Brad Popowich, owner of Alberta HVAC, the company Remote was doing the job for.

“We were doing a pool on how long it would take,” Popowich says. “That’s why I know.”

And the winner? Sean McConnell of the Town of Slave Lake.

“I just picked one of my former hockey jersey numbers,” says McConnell.

Gambling aside, Popowich says the choice of helicopter for slinging HVAC units is unusual. Probably 95 per cent of them are done by crane.
Helicopters are more expensive, but quicker and in this case it worked out to be cheaper due to the time difference.

Not only that, the use of a crane would have required the store to be evacuated for the duration, Popowich says.

“You can’t do it with people in the store.”

The operation turned into something of a community event, with spectators lined up to watch and the fire department on site to take care of crowd control.

“Thanks for all their support,” says Popowich.

The new HVAC unit, about to be hoisted onto the roof by a helicopter.
The big lift; one of the old units gets slung off the roof of the No Frills.
Remote Helicopters put on a show for quite a large number of spectators on April 26, moving air-conditioning units off and onto the roof of the No Frills supermarket in Slave Lake.

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