More Highlights for SKY5
The annual tradition of “lighting the tower” on December 1, started in 1959. Over 3000 colorful lightbulbs attached to the tower are turned on near the end of the newscast. This 1982 video shows the moment the lights are turned on. SKY 5 circled the tower in spectacular fashion revealing how magnificent the lights look from the air. Flying SKY5 was pilot Mike Allen.
The annual lighting of the tower for Christmas happens on December 1. It is a special time of the year when WRAL spreads Christmas cheer by providing a visual Christmas greeting to the viewers by lighting the tower with more than 3,000 multi-color bulbs. The result is a spectacular Christmas tree. The tradition started in 1959.
This particular tower lighting on December 1, 1981 was extra special. For the first time, WRAL was able to give viewers a bird’s eye viewer LIVE via SKY 5 – WRAL’s news helicopter – during the ceremony. WRAL News anchor, Charlie Gaddy, shares his memory watching the magnificent images that SKY 5 provided that evening.
Flying SKY 5 was pilot Randy Watkins.
SKY 5 started flying July 31, 1979. The helicopter was heavily promoted by the promotion department through out the broadcast day. The first slogan was “Look Up for SKY 5.” The ID that aired before the each newscast featured the slogan with a video of SKY 5. It aired so much, that news anchor Charlie Gaddy “looked up” while waiting for his cue to start the newscast. Director Bob Gubar hit the wrong button on the video switcher in the control room and accidently showed Charlie looking-up. Gubar quickly recovered and selected the corrent button to show the opening of the newscast. Decades later, that incident is still talked about at WRAL-TV.
Halloween is not just for kids! SKY 5 pilot Frank Beall and his photographer planned a little “trick or treat” surprise for WRAL weatherman Bob Debardelaben during the noon newscast.
In this video, you will see Frank putting on his scary mask while he is flying. The viewers were not able to see this part of the action, but the microwave feed was recorded at the station. Frank and his photographer have a good laugh prior to going on the air “live” with Bob. Bob has a good laugh too. Circa 1985.
On May 8, 2003, American Idol finalist and hometown star Clay Aiken traveled to Raleigh. He visited the NC Capitol Building and met Governor Mike Easley. Later Clay hopped into SKY 5 to fly to the Durham Bulls Ballpark to sing the national anthen and throw out the first pitch.
This video is the “raw” footage shot from inside SKY 5 during the trip. You will hear Clay respond to questions in an interview with WRAL News anchors while he was inflight. Notice that the helicopter hovered over an area between Raleigh and Durham during the interview. After the interview, Clay changed into a Durham Bulls baseball shirt. SKY 5 then made the descent into Durham and landed at the Durham Bulls Baseball Park. SKY 5 pilot Steve Wiley opens the door for Clay and instructs him where to go; directly to the pitchers mound.