This week SKY 5 is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a part of the WRAL-TV fleet. SKY 5 was the first helicopter in North Carolina devoted to fulltime television newsgathering when it went into service on July 31, 1979. Over four decades, SKY 5 has become an iconic part of the WRAL-TV family.
Four different pilots have flown SKY 5 over the years. The first pilot was Randy Watkins, who passed away a few years ago. Then came Mike Allen, who WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Brian Shrader recently interviewed for the anniversary. The third pilot, Frank Beall, passed away in 2011. And the current pilot, Steve Wiley, interviewed with WRAL-TV Photojournalist Richard Adkins recently for the 40th as well.
To get an idea of what it was like to fly SKY 5 during the early 1980’s, check out this video on the CBC History website. Mike Allen is the pilot, and the first 15 minutes of the video give good insight into his day-to-day experience:
Thanks to Pam Allen for this capcom scoop.