Helicopter Flyover Documents Arkansas River

Tuesday, March 24th 2009, 6:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA COUNTY -- You might have a seen a helicopter Tuesday flying just above the water at the Arkansas River. It was an aerial river survey that's part of the planning for new dams.

Before anything can be built in the river, especially low water dams, everything has to be documented.

The News On 6 went along for an exclusive look at this step in the process for Tulsa County to build three dams in the river.

A helicopter flew over all 42 miles of the Arkansas River in Tulsa County. Underneath is a ball shaped camera, covered with 13 lenses. It photographed the river in all directions.

"I've been all over the world now shooting with this camera," said Craig Adkins, Immersive Media.

Craig Adkins is the photographer. With a helicopter seat full of equipment, he can record a panoramic view.

"For the first time, we're able to film the entire environment. So when the audience watches it, they can choose what they want to look at so you can look forward, but you've also got everything behind you as well," said Adkins.

The camera ball hangs underneath the skid of a helicopter. The images are synched up with latitude and longitude, so anything spotted from the air can be easily located on the ground.

Tulsa County hired Oregon based Immersive Media and Tulsa Helicopters to do the work.

"This is how we quantify what's there so we know what's there and what needs to be developed and what needs to be preserved," said Kirby Crowe, Program Management Group.

The helicopter flew no higher than 150 feet to document everything, from the size of sand bars to the amount and type of trash along the bank.

It can be used to show the extent of sand mining operations and where the water flows along the river bed.

This will be used for the design of the low water dams and all future river development.

The county will have the aerial video online within a couple of weeks, so it can be put to use planning what's next for the river.

This summer, the county will have public meetings to talk about what's coming to the river.