Five Impossibly Cool Projects Performed by the S-64

Get a glimpse into five decades of the most iconic S-64 projects we’ve supported around the world.  

By Brittany Black, SVP Sales, BD & Marketing

The S-64 helicopter and its crew are undeniably cool. This coolness factor has been built over 50 years.  December 17, 2021, marks Erickson Incorporated’s’ 50th anniversary, and throughout these years our team of aviation professionals have been nothing short of amazing. Erickson has done it all, from relocating a near-extinct animal in Malaysia, to placing the Statue of Freedom on top of the U.S. Capitol building, to rehabilitating the North Slope Tundra.

1. 1993 – The Statue of Freedom

In May of 1993, just one year after becoming the Type Certificate Holder for the S-64 Skycrane, now dubbed the S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter, Erickson was hired by the U.S. Capitol architect to remove and replace the Statue of Freedom on the Capitol Dome in Washington D.C. using the S-64 helicopter. At this time, the S-64 was best known for moving timber; however, the heavy-lift machine was the perfect solution capable of lifting such massive monuments using precision. The S-64 Air Crane® helicopter, Bubba (N163AC), gracefully moved the 14,985-pound Statue from its historic post to be cleaned and repaired for the first time to protect it from corrosion. In early fall, the aircraft returned to replace the Statue on top of the Dome once the restoration was complete. This was a historic moment for Washingtonians, as members of Congress and people within the community stood by patiently watching the project and cheering the helicopter on.

1993 Statue of Freedom Project

2. 2011 – Relocating an Endangered Rhino

On December 25, 2011, Erickson supported Borneo Rhino Alliance Sanctuary Programme and the Sabah Wildlife Department in Malaysia by relocating an endangered female Sumatran Rhino (Puntung) to Tabin using the S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter. The female rhino was to be relocated with another male rhino in Tabin. On Christmas morning, Puntung was carried out of the forest in a wooden crate. At the time, Puntung was the smallest recorded adult Sumatran Rhino at 495kg (1091lbs).

3. 2013 – Terra TGC Telecom in Remote Alaska

In partnership with STG, Inc., Erickson supported a project transporting and placing 300-foot towers and supplies for building out the communication tower systems in remote Alaska locations. Due to the inaccessibility of the remote location by land crane, the S-64 helicopter was necessary to reach the project and not harm the environment. Without the use of the S-64 Air Crane® helicopter, Annie (N171AC), to relocate these towers, communication in rural Alaskan areas would essentially be eliminated. With a lift capacity of 25,000 lbs. for the S-64 F model Air Crane® helicopter, this was the perfect match for moving the TERRA project with typical lifts ranging from 14,000 – 18,000lbs.

4. 2014 – North Slope Tundra Rehab

In 2014, an oil company hired Erickson to support their rehabilitation project on the North Slope. When a company uses equipment on the Arctic tundra, it is responsible for preserving the vegetation and soil according to stringent state and federal environmental standards Since the tundra is not accessible by vehicle, an Erickson S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter was called in to retrieve the sod and tundra and relocate them to specific locations. The S-64 moved millions of tons of tundra to rehabilitate an area that had been previously disrupted for operations. The North Slope Tundra Rehab project was environmentally conscious, preserving the ecosystem primarily because of the gentle giant, the S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter.

5. 2018 – Zhoushan 500 kv Sea Crossing Powerline Project

State Grid General Aviation contracted Erickson to construct multiple tubular structures and pull several conductors from one structure located on Zhoushan Island across a sea estuary to a second structure located on China mainland. These structures were built to a height of 380M and broke the World record for the tallest tower ever constructed. The conductor pull across the estuary of the sea was the world’s most extended powerline pullover open water conducted via helicopter at 2,656 meters. 

Camille, the S-64 Air Crane in China during the 2018 Sea Crossing Powerline Project, photo by Bryan Dudas Productions