A helicopter flying low near the Capitol on Saturday morning wasn't a terrorist attack. It was a workhorse taking 500-pound elevator motors to the State Office Building.
For about a half hour around 10 a.m., a TEMSCO helicopter hired by the state carried old elevator motors from the roof of the SOB to a flatbed trailer on nearby Telephone Hill, and brought in new ones.
Two of four elevators in the central bank, which serves floors five through 11, have been broken for several months, said Larry White, facilities manager for 11 state buildings in Juneau.
It will take up to two weeks to install the new motors, he said. The effort Saturday also took away two broken motors and three other worn-out pieces of machinery that had accumulated in the rooftop mechanical room.
Because of "the amount of manpower, the potential for collateral damage to the building and equipment, not to mention the time, it was felt the best way was to enlist helicopter support," White said.
It would have taken three workers at least a week, along with special machinery from Anchorage, to get the motors in and out of the SOB from the inside, he said.
The TEMSCO AStar 350BA helicopter, piloted by base manager Andy Thomas, can carry up to 1,500 pounds hooked to a cable. The pieces of machinery carried Saturday weighed 500 to 600 pounds each.
Police stopped traffic on Telephone Hill during the flights, and the state cleared two other landing sites near the SOB in case one was needed, White said.
It's not unusual for Alaskans to use helicopters to carry heavy loads in places off the road system. But it's not often seen in downtown Juneau. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the plan.
"We actually do a lot of that in this area, just without the exposure we had downtown," Thomas said. "Instead of trees all around it, we had buildings and windows around it."
Eric Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.