Photos by Mark Williams Jr.
Over the next day or so, New York’s Army National Guard is using a CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopter to remove a pontoon from a portion of the New York Power Authority’s “ice boom” at Niagara Falls. The New York State Park Police is teaming with U.S. Army aviators from the New York Army National Guard’s Detachment 1, Company “B” 3rd Battalion on the operation, which began Tuesday morning.
A 2019 high wind event caused a steel pontoon to break free from the New York Power Authority ice boom in Lake Erie. The pontoon become lodged in the upper rapids above the Bridal Veil Falls in the Niagara River. The section to be removed is 30-feet-by-30-feet and weighs about 3,500 pounds.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said the pontoon does not pose an immediate safety risk, but is being removed to preserve the integrity of the viewshed of Niagara Falls.
The CH-47F Chinook helicopter is the Army’s heavy-lift cargo helicopter. The Chinook can carry 32 troops plus aircrew, and slingload 13 tons of cargo underneath the helicopter. It has a maximum speed of 196 miles per hour.
Soldiers from the battalion deployed to Afghanistan several times, where their ability to carry heavy loads at high altitudes was critical to operations in the mountains.
On June 11, 2011, a CH-47D from Company “B” extracted a boat from the Niagara River, which had become hung up above Niagara Falls.
A Canadian helicopter had been able to rescue the crew from the Park Police boat, which had run aground while conducting a rescue operation on June 10. The New York Army National Guard CH-47 was called in to lift the 8,000-pound boat.
For background on the NYPA “ice boom,” click here.
Information courtesy of State Parks