Too Close for Comfort

Suspicious Helicopter

Driving home from the pancake breakfast at 1:30 Sunday February 10th , we notice a helicopter flying alarmingly close to power line towers, hovering for 45 seconds – 3 minutes and moving on towards the next tower. It wasn’t that concerning until it was above a residential neighborhood in Morton. So I did what anyone who remembers 9/11 would do, I tried to report the activity.

First, I called Peoria Regional Airport security. They said they wouldn't have any idea about it. They blew me off saying that wouldn’t be in their area of concern to contact Federal Aviation. (309) 697-8272

Morton Police took the call. Did not say what they would do to follow up. I web searched Federal Aviation Administration but had difficulty finding their contact number.

Frustrated, I called Transportation Security Administration because they were the only ones with a number listed 24/7 hotline. Spoke with Mike Humenan who suggested to call local area police and the electric company, to find out if they have access because they are flying pole to pole. He did take my call seriously and was helpful in finding out what was actually going on.
Phone: 1-866- GA SECURE or 1-866-427-3287

I called AmerenEU and they transferred to AmerenCilco. There was no AmerenCilco contact number on their website. Talked with Scott, he said that there wouldn’t be anyway that it was AmerenCilco because they would use a truck with a lift. I explained it was very disconcerting because it was near a residential area and that I was amazed that no one else was concerned about this. He said he was concerned about it, but that it wasn’t their helicopter.

I called TSA back and spoke with Mike Humenan and he asked if I minded being written as the contact person in the report. I told him no and that my husband was out getting video of it and that he would be able to blow it up on computer to get number. Mike said if I could get number to call it back in. My husband took the camera and filmed them going all the way down to Springfield Rd. and landing next to a cell tower, to get the number N371EE off the blue bottom helicopter with white top. Meanwhile, I spoke to person at the Pekin Power plant and they knew nothing about it saying we’d have to call the parent company Midwest Generation, which is not available to contact on Sundays.

The TSA agent called back and said he had run the number and found out it was hired out by the power company to do observation work. He also added that he had googled the number and found out it had been filmed in an episode of CSI. We googled the plane number and got 8 results. We found it is a 1989 McDonnell Douglas owned by Haverfield International Inc. Haverfield International does have Consolidated Edison companies listed as one of their clients, but how is a citizen supposed to know what is legitimate activity on a Sunday afternoon and what is not?

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Trina says ... on Wednesday, Feb 13 at 1:49 PM

Jan. 12th, 2p.m. I too experienced a similar situation, blue helicoptor, hovering over the trees of our house for about 1hr. located in Peoria County. We also call the police and Aviation Administration, was told to call back on Mon to file report.

Aaron Weyhrich says ... on Thursday, Feb 21 at 12:46 PM

I saw the helicopter also above Morton and was quite concerned about it being in such close proximity to the power lines. However, after observing its stop and go movements I assumed it was inspecting the power lines and/or towers.

Pat says ... on Saturday, Apr 5 at 5:55 PM

This helicopter has a thermal camera on it checking for hot spots in the high tension power lines. This is done approximately once a month to verify that the high tension wires are not conducting to much heat. There is nothing to be concerned about.

miraj says ... on Friday, Sep 17 at 12:56 PM

that`s kinda spooky. I would be very cconcerned about the safety of many people in the area.

PA police officer says ... on Sunday, Jul 10 at 8:25 PM

All those who observed the chopper did the right thing in this day and age. I am a police officer at an airport and see these craft all the time while refueling but to the average citizen it could look suspicious. Advance media notice would be nice.

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