Torrance, CA — A Robinson R44 Newscopter served as the aerial platform for Dallas Morning News photographer Smiley Pool while he took his Pulitzer Prize winning photographs of hurricane-devastated New Orleans. The Newscopter, piloted by Ken Pyatt (president, SKY Helicopters) was designated by the FAA as the shared helicopter for still photographers.

Flying into a city just hit by a Category 4 hurricane had its difficulties. The absence of air traffic control, fueling stations, and maintenance facilities created conditions that tested Pyatt’s piloting skills and the helicopter’s capabilities. The morning after the storm, Pyatt estimates that more than two dozen helicopters were flying low over the city without assistance. The Newscopter’s advanced communication system and fuel efficiency enabled Pyatt to maneuver the aircraft safely in and around the city for up to three hours at a time, twice a day for two continuous weeks.

The R44 Newscopter became an important tool in reporting the crisis and in helping the Dallas Morning News earn the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography.

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