Published January 1967 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. Volume VII - Number 2 January 13, 1967 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column by Senator Robert C. Byrd HELICOPTERS IN WEST VIRGINIA 'S FUTURE Any dedicated crystal-ball gazer, intent on peering into West Virginia's future, might well envision helicopters darting in and about the State. The helicopter, one of the earliest “flying machines”, formerly was edged out in general usage by fixed wing aircraft, which developed more rapidly. Thus, until recently, few refinements were made on helicopters, and noise and vibration continued as prime deterrents to the public appeal vital for underwriting commercial development. Currently, 75 percent of U. S. helicopter production is purchased by the Armed Forces, and the helicopter is enthusiastically considered by the Army as a welcome modern replacement for the Army mule. Military usage of helicopters includes a remote area refueling system, evacuation of wounded in Viet Nam, rescue of downed pilots on land and sea, observation and surveillance of enemy operations, deployment of troops, retrieval of downed aircraft, movement of heavy artillery pieces and equipment (up to 14,000 lbs. and handling of enormous tonnages of military supplies. This tremendously expanded military utilization of "choppers" has given impetus to modifications and new designs, for special services which are in growing civilian demand. Many persons have urged inauguration of helicopter commuter service as a partial answer to the Nation1s urban traffic congestion problem, pointing out that, since 1947, regular helicopter commuter service has successfully operated between airports and communities in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In some U. S. cities, such as Chicago and New York, the Federal Government in the past subsidized scheduled helicopter operations. Last year Congress passed a bill to provide for scheduled helicopter service in the Washington, D. C., and Baltimore, Maryland, area. Also, the Post Office Department, in modernizing its functions, initiated selective usage of helicopters in speeding mail deliveries to and from airports and major metropolitan downtown post offices. The petroleum industry makes wide use of helicopters in construction operations, to patrol pipelines and transport men and service rigs. Mining companies use them to get men and equipment into and out of isolated mining locations. Helicopters are well adapted to air mapping, such as surveys for power lines and geological mapping, and for crop dusting and spraying. The U. S. Forest Service uses them in pesticide spraying to avoid contamination of adjacent streams and pasture-lands. Helicopters are replacing boats for use in the control of algae and weeds in lakes and reservoirs, and they are useful in fighting and patrolling forest fires and in traffic patrol. As a great advantage, helicopter landing facilities are relatively inexpensive and simple to construct. Many of the landing spots are just pads. Experts point out that Greenland Denmark's possession off the northern Atlantic coast of North America, now has as its public transportation service an all-helicopter airline which serves the entire country--a sort of flying streetcar system. Since much of Greenland's topography can be likened to areas of West Virginia, transportation specialists suggest that the Mountain State could propel itself forward significantly by similarly inaugurating regular intra-State helicopter service .