Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

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chumley
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Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by chumley » May 31 2017 12:56 pm

After a recent triplog on Kendrick Peak, a comment by @zlewis piqued my interest:
Everyone likes to think that's a helipad, but it's just the foundation of the former lookout tower.
Generally reliable and reputable news sources such as the Arizona Daily Sun, Arizona Highways, and Phoenix New Times have articles that reference the concrete slab as a helipad. (The Daily Sun article even quotes Jane Jackson, a relief fire lookout who also called the slab a helipad). But news sources get things wrong all the time. So that's not conclusive.

The history of fire lookouts on Kendrick seems a bit murky, but there's been something up there since the cabin below the summit was built in 1911 and is listed on the National Historic Register. There are countless photos of this building online.

The current tower was apparently erected in 1964. There are also countless photos of it and it is still in use today.

There was a previous lookout on the site built in the 1930s according to the National Historic Lookout Register. It states that the old lookout was an L-4 structure (a 14x14 wood-frame structure that could be mounted on the ground or on a tower). If the current slab was the foundation for this 1930s lookout, it should be 14 x 14 feet. It doesn't appear that the current slab is square so that doesn't seem to be the case. If the L-4 tower was mounted on a tower, there would be tower footings rather than a slab. I can't find any historic photos of this tower published online.

This site quotes news clippings that indicate a lookout was built in 1914. I can't find any additional reference to this tower.

Now to the slab itself. It appears to have 5 sides. I haven't measured, but looking at photographs you can add up the 16" CMUs that line the slab to determine the dimensions to be 16 feet on the three square sides. You can also see that the slab has received some crack filler / maintenance over the years. So it appears that it is being maintained for some purpose rather than allowed to deteriorate. I'm not an expert on ageing concrete, but neither the slab nor the CMUs give me the initial impression of something that has weathered the top of a mountain for over 60 years.

This photo also seems to indicate that the slab was poured in 1979 based on an inscription in the concrete which reads
Kaibab Helit---79
*Note Kaibab Helitack was established in 1976.

The Kendrick Peak Lookout tower does not have road access and it was built before the Kendrick Peak Wilderness was established in 1984 by Congress. Wilderness designation prohibits the landing or operation of helicopters within the wilderness. Exemptions can be made, but are rare. After a discussion with the lookout on my trip to the summit a few weeks ago I learned that the tower is not supplied by helicopter, but rather by hiking and pack animals. I was unable to find any photos online of a helicopter on the landing pad on Kendrick, nor any published Forest Order that exempts helicopters from wilderness regulations in the Kendrick Peak Wilderness.

So what does this all mean? I'm not sure!

My guess, based on the research I've outlined above, is that while there was at least one previous lookout structure on the summit of Kendrick Peak prior to the one that stands today, the concrete slab that visitors frequently rest on is actually a helipad, and was constructed in 1979. It's entirely possible that it has not been used as a helipad since Wilderness designation in 1984 (with the likely exception of the Pumpkin Fire or SAR operations that can get emergency exemptions to wilderness flight restrictions). It is certainly possible that the helipad was constructed on the site of a previous lookout structure that once existed there, but I can't find any photos or information about the previous structures.

I don't have enough officially sourced data to conclude that the slab is or is not a helipad or old foundation. If anybody has any additional information that contributes to this, please post a reply! I find this kind of thing fascinating.
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tibber
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by tibber » May 31 2017 1:18 pm

wow, great Rx there. and very interesting! Thanks for your time to "Inquiring Minds Want to Know"...
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by PatrickL » May 31 2017 3:10 pm

IMG_0205.JPG

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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by BobP » May 31 2017 5:42 pm

i thought someone said there was a cistern under it. maybe a lookout tower guy?
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by Jim_H » May 31 2017 7:33 pm

Well, they do have an "H" painted on if I recall correctly, from my last visit in 2011. I know some people like to use as a bed for a quicky.
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by The_Eagle » May 31 2017 7:46 pm

@chumley
Based on Google measurements, your 16' x 16' seems correct. To me, it seems 16' x 16' is a little small for a helipad. Especially one elevated, on a mountain top, susceptible to windy conditions.

From a quick search "....the minimum width, length or diameter of the final approach and takeoff area (FATO) of a general aviation helipad is 1.5 times the overall length of the design helicopter." At the time it was probably not subject to current regulations. Maybe @MtnBart01 can chime in, if he's still monitoring.
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chumley
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by chumley » May 31 2017 7:54 pm

@The_Eagle
I read the same as I was researching. But I also have seen helipads used that are a similar size. The one on camelback comes to mind. I think by being on a ridge or peak with no trees or other obstacle makes the smaller size more manageable.

There's a nice modern one on Newman Peak. Landing lights and everything. I don't recall it being much larger than maybe 20x20'?
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by nonot » May 31 2017 11:49 pm

In the 1970s, the Helitack crew was using a Bell 47 helicopter. These are the same ones from the MASH TV show. I think you'd have no problem landing the thing.
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by chumley » Jun 01 2017 11:00 am

chumley wrote:There's a nice modern one on Newman Peak. Landing lights and everything. I don't recall it being much larger than maybe 20x20'?
Just had a chance to check the Googs Earf. The Newman pad is not more than 16x16, and might be as small as 16x14, depending on the distortion from the satellite photo. The pad on the Cholla Trail also appears to be 15 or 16 foot square. So I think the size is probably in the correct ballpark.
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by chumley » Jun 01 2017 2:17 pm

nonot wrote:I think you'd have no problem landing the thing.
Also, I'm quite confident that I would definitely have a problem landing any helicopter regardless of the pad size! :sweat:
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by zlewis » Jun 01 2017 5:32 pm

I work in aviation, which is also a major hobby for me. When I was up there in April, I thought it looked very much like a foundation, including the cinder-blocks around the perimeter. There was nothing to suggest helipad, which would likely include the painted "H" in a circle, a windsock, and possibly perimeter lighting. It also seemed that rising terrain on the flank of the pad would be somewhat dangerous for light helicopter rotor-clearance.

Certainly seems possible that it would be a disused emergency helipad built on a former foundation or leveled clearing, but even light helicopters are bigger than you would expect without seeing one right there in front of you. The little Bell 47 had a rotor diameter over 37 ft and a total length of almost 49 ft. That means a rotor disc of 1085 sqft, versus 256 for the 16x16 pad. The landing skids alone would take a near-perfect landing to fit within the pad.

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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by BobP » Jun 01 2017 8:41 pm

@The_Eagle
Do I need to explain autorotate to you again :stop:
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by The_Eagle » Jun 01 2017 9:25 pm

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by mazatzal » Jun 01 2017 9:47 pm

@BobP No you need to explain it to chums because he's the one who said he can't land it :lol:

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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by MtnBart01 » Jun 02 2017 3:58 am

@The_Eagle
fato would most likely not come into play here and there were probably no guidelines in place for building a helideck in 1979. Even in the Gulf there were no minimum helideck standards until 1994 or 1997 when they required the minimum size to be 24x24'. The older ones particularly in the swamp lands for pipeline patrol are as small as 10'x10' unmarked concrete slabs elevated a couple of feet above the water. We still use Bell 206 l3 and Bell 407 for these contracts the skid dimensions of these aircraft are roughly 10' long by 7.5' wide. While tight, when I was on one of these contracts I used to land on several of these a day usually with vegetation 29-30' high all around the slabs. It was enjoyable because every once in a while the customers would fall in trying to exit the helicopter with their gear because there is so little space to exit the helicopter. If it fits and you have the perfotmance that day it's not a problem. I have never been to this location, but 16x16 is not a problem. Most likely by the time this was in use if it was used as a helipad they were flying 206's just like they use for the chub taggers in Salt Canyon LCR. Now with the lack of power a 206 has that is a lot more impressive landing site than that pad pictured above. We use D values to determine acceptable performance for landing. .83 or greater is unrestricted where d value is the overall length of the helicopter with the rotor spinning so with a 206 or 407 anything less than roughly 35' would require a possible drop in max gross weight to land safely, but with a 24' deck I rarely have to reduce loads. A lot of times in remote areas they will use existing foundations or build primitive pads for projects i.e. If equipment is being long lined into an area. If given the choice I would land on that rather than an unimproved area. That doesn't resolve the actual question. I just got an email alert.
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by The_Eagle » Jun 02 2017 6:57 am

@MtnBart01
Joel, Hi... You've been awful quiet lately.
Thanks for the short-winded explanation.
I've long contemplated the D value.
May the Autorotation be with you!
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by big_load » Jun 02 2017 11:32 am

MtnBart01 wrote:and you have the perfotmance that day
It can get pretty windy up there. I'm glad I don't have to land anything bigger than my feet.

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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by Tough_Boots » Jun 02 2017 12:38 pm

@MtnBart01
Reading your comment made me miss hiking with you-- listening to you talk non-stop about helicopter stuff I'll never understand.
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Re: Kendrick Peak lookout and helicopter pad

Post by BobP » Jun 02 2017 3:06 pm

http://www.blindmotivation.com
http://www.seeitourway.org
Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
If you like this triplog you must be a friend of BrunoP

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