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Chopper Air Saw Reports for Work in Maumelle

MAUMELLE, AR -- A special piece of equipment began work Sunday in Maumelle as part of the effort restore power lines knocked down by strong storms that hit last week.
MAUMELLE, AR -- A special piece of equipment began work Sunday in Maumelle as part of the effort restore power lines knocked down by strong storms that hit last week. 

It's called a helicopter air saw -- basically a giant, ten-blade saw dangling from a helicopter.

It was called in by Entergy Arkansas to help cut trees away from power lines in difficult-to-access areas.

The blades sliced through tree limbs clearing them away from power lines that feed 20,000 homes and businesses in Maumelle.

The air saw was called in by Entergy in the wake of powerful storms that battered the state last week.

"This is really the best tool to use as far as swampy areas," said pilot Todd Gillespie.  "They can't get vehicles back in there."

Gillespie pilots the chopper for a South Carolina-based company contracted by Entergy for the job.

He's been flying the air saw for about one year.

"Flying the helicopter is actually pretty easy as compared to trying to make the saw do what you want it to do," he said.

The ten carbide-tipped blades are powered by a 26-horsepower motor and attached to the helicopter with and 80 foot boom.

"With all the rain that we've had, getting around has been difficult and challenging," said Entergy Arkansas Vegetation Manager Phil Torres.

In Maumelle, falling trees took out transmission lines cutting power to 10,000 homes

As crews repair those lines, the air saw will cut tress back in hopes of preventing the same thing from happening again during the next storm.

"Once we finish our restoration efforts we want to make sure we don't have any other mishaps," Torres said.

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