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:: Home > Forests and Timber > Logging > Balloon and Helicopter Logging

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At times we choose to use balloons or helicopters to yard the logs from the harvest unit to the landing. Using this logging method, the logs actually take flight! Using a helicopter or balloon, called "aerial logging," allows us to log with no disturbance to the ground by a logging machine.
A logging helicopter flying over a forest.
The felled and bucked logs are hooked to a balloon or helicopter by a cable, then the logs are lifted up and carried to a landing where they can be loaded onto trucks. Since the logging machine is in the air and not on the ground, we can minimize damage to streams and soils, and under good weather conditions, minimize damage to the trees still standing in the forest.
Running a helicopter or balloon logging operation can be expensive, and helicopters burn enormous amounts of fossil fuel. Aerial logging also requires fairly good weather, and the logs can't be really heavy.
A logging balloon over a harvest unit.

It is uncommon to see balloon logging nowadays, but helicopter logging is still fairly common. NO balloon logging operations, and no balloon logging research, is currently underway in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

In the past, Oregon State University's College of Forestry was one of several public and private organizations researching balloon logging, and at least one logging company in Oregon ran balloon logging operations within the last 25 years. Loggers and researchers alike found that balloon logging was not cost effective when compared to helicopter and cable logging. Balloon systems using anchored balloons or balloons maneuvered using cables were particularly limited. In addition, balloon logging wasn't very adaptable to partial cutting-- standing trees created dangerous obstacles.

At least one organization in Russia is currently using and researching balloon logging: The Far Eastern Aerostatic Center, "AEROS," in Khabarovsk, Russia, has a useful description of ballon logging research and balloon design.

This is not an endorsement of AEROS products or research.

See a video clip from the Forestry Media Center production, "Aerial Logging Systems":