CASEY: Helicopters flying over Read Mountain are driving residents crazy | Local News

Over the past few days, I’ve heard readers talking about thundering helicopters whirling above Read Mountain. The “barrage” lasted all last week, they said, sometimes starting before 8 a.m. and lasting all afternoon.

“It’s been about a week now (every day except Sunday) that I’ve woken up to the sound of helicopters – as early as 7:40 a.m. – sometimes seeming to hover directly overhead,” Jane Brown wrote to me in an email. email Thursday.

She lives on the US side of Mountain 460 in eastern Roanoke County.

“I think they’re moving trees, but no one I’ve spoken to seems to know,” Brown wrote. “Everyone I spoke to passed the buck. Roanoke County Police suggested I call permits at Roanoke County Administration, who suggested I call the [Federal Aviation Administration] ride to the airport who never returned my call.

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Glen Cassell has lived in this area for 58 years. His house is across from the 17th tee of the Ole Monterey Golf Course. It’s a stone’s throw southeast of the mountain, which straddles the border of Roanoke County and Botetourt County.

“There are two who have been up there for four or five days, going back and forth,” he told me in a voicemail. “If you have an answer, I would appreciate it.”

Early Friday was a mystery to me too. And you know how information voids tend to work on the human psyche – they encourage our imaginations to run wild.

Another person I spoke to described one of the helicopters as “black”. This seemed like a particularly disturbing clue.

The last time we heard much about black helicopters was during Operation Jade Helm 2015. Remember that so-called federal martial law regime from the Obama years?

Official sources called Jade Helm “routine exercise” for the National Guard in southern states. But the conspiratorial wing of the American media had a sexier and scarier explanation.

Radio presenter Alex Jones told his “Infowars” listeners that Jade Helm was the Obama administration’s plan for a military occupation of the southern United States. Jones speculated that the Tories would be rounded up and transferred to concentration camps.

Have you met a survivor of one of these concentration camps? Or seen one on TV? If there were, Tucker Carlson would surely have interviewed them live on Fox News. Didn’t happen.

Another possibility: Helicopters are part of a reinvigorated Beale treasure hunt. People have been looking for this loot since the Civil War.

As far as we know, no one has ever watched in the eastern Roanoke or southern Botetourt counties. (Most of Bedford County has already been probed with a fine-toothed comb.) It could be on Read Mountain.

Or maybe the FBI thinks former President Donald Trump buried classified White House documents there. The distant peak would be a much better hiding place than Trump’s desk drawer in his ex-president’s office at Mar-a-Lago.

Maybe the FBI got a search warrant for the top of the mountain, and that explains the black helicopters. The possibilities seem endless.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport tower wasn’t much help when I called. A guy there referred me to an FAA public information line in New York.

The next person I called was Appalachian Power Co. spokeswoman Teresa Hall. She provided an explanation that was – in a word – banal.

Hall said the helicopters belong to a contractor hired by the electric utility. They are removing an old power line that hasn’t been used in decades and the poles supporting it, she said.

The 34.5 kilovolt Cloverdale-Huntington Court line runs from Interstate 81 Exit 150 to the Huntington Court neighborhood along Hollins Road. From the map the distance seems to be about 5 miles.

The line was built in the 1940s or 1950s and hasn’t been used for about 20 years, Hall said.

“The line we are removing is in a remote area and the use of helicopters minimizes the environmental impact,” Hall told me in an email. “With the helicopters, we don’t have to fell trees and cut roads to get to the location. Even the crew doing the work is transported to the site.

Between Cloverdale and Huntington Court there are 55 poles, each over five stories tall, which support the abandoned power line. Work on the project began on August 12 and is expected to be completed by mid-September, she added.

Cassell had wondered if it might be an electric utility project and told me he had looked for a notification on the electric company’s website, but he didn’t. hadn’t found any.

Hall said the utility notifies customers in advance of planned electrical service outages or operations that could cause damage to private property. But none of these fit the bill for the line removal project.

Brown said the noise spooked mountain wildlife.

“When the helicopter flies over the birds, the birds retreat as close to the tree trunks as possible, the squirrels race down the trees, and my outdoor cats hide under the deck…I’ve lived in this house since 1981 and I have never been assaulted so loudly,” Brown wrote.

“Would you tell Apco that using crews would be much nicer for the people and other animals living under the helicopters?

“Instead, maybe in the future Apco could explain what they plan to do – in the paper, on TV or through direct mail – before releasing the helicopters,” Brown added.

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