[UPDATE Monday: PG&E Claims Helicopter] Unclaimed Helicopter Startles Residents Yesterday
Yesterday morning, residents of Humboldt County–mostly though not solely in southeastern Humboldt—reported an extremely low-flying helicopter white with either blue or green stripes.
The reports placed the helicopter about 8:30 a.m. in Harris then on to Alderpoint Road and down to Lower Sawmill Road by Garberville around 9:20 a.m. Around 10:45ish, the helicopter was seen between Rio Dell and Ferndale. Then there was a single report of the helicopter in the Island Mt/ Palo Verde area around 11:15 a.m.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s public information officer said she had no knowledge of a helicopter being used by her department. The California Highway Patrol said they had none in the area. And, PG&E said they were not doing flights.
The following two photos were taken about 9:22 a.m. near Wallen Road which is just a little east of Garberville. We zoomed in so the tail number could be read. The trouble is none of the possible number combinations we tried, when checked against the FAA Registry, fit the type of aircraft we see in the photos. We thought we’d ask our readers to try their luck.
If you want to play, take the number combo you see, such as N9988, and click the FAA link. Enter N9988 into the N-number box and submit. Check the results. N9988 is a TRIPP BG-8 which is a single seater helicopter that has been deregistered. See here for Flight Aware’s description.
UPDATE Monday: Bill Ristevski, aircraft dispatcher for PG&E, contacted me and said that this was PG&E’s flight. He assured us that “the pilots aren’t going to risk their careers” by flying inappropriately. He said he would review the flight data and get back to us.
UPDATE Monday 1:18 p.m.: Deanna Contreras explained that the flight had been unexpected. She said, “If customers have complaints about a helicopter, they are encouraged to call the customer service hotline at 1-800-pge-5000.”