WATER SAMPLING FROM A HELICOPTER

In early 1970, I was doing the fieldwork for my Ph.D. which involved collecting seawater samples across the mouth of Delaware Bay at various locations, depths and times.
From a boat, this is fairly easy: one uses an open sampling bottle which is lowered by wire to a certain depth. Next, the bottle is closed by means of a "messenger", a small metal weight which can be put around the wire and "sent" down to trip the closing mechanism for the valves of the bottle.

Because of the rapid tidal changes in an estuary, it would be an advantage to collect synoptic samples in a line across or along the bay. In a boat, this is almost impossible (although the DRBC used a fast boat to ride in and out along the axis of the Bay in a semi-synoptic fashion) because it takes too long to sail from on station to the next, but in a helicopter one can cross the Bay in a few minutes.

We (my advisor, Dr. Robert Jordan, also the Delaware State Geologist, and I, Millersville Assistant Professor and UDEL graduate student), therefore, approached the Dover Airforce Base to enquire about the possibility of establishing a cooperative effort. They would provide the helicopter, crew, and winch, and we the scientist, technicians, sampling gear and plan.

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