Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 18, 2015

Meet Camille

From the Autostrada to Florence the other day we spotted an amazing orange helicopter at the little airport at Capannori near Lucca.

We know someone who knows someone and a few days later we were allowed to get up close and personal…meet Camille.

Camille the helicopter

She is an Erickson Aircrane visiting Italy to help out with some heavy lifting. The helicopter is used to lift huge pylons into place in difficult to reach places…among other things.

It really does look like a dragonfly.

Camille the helicopte

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

Camille the helicopter

It is amazing to see these things in action. It was a different orange helicopter I saw at Vergemoli last week carrying long poles through the valley below, but I can imagine what Camille can do.

Mechanics were working hard to get her ready for her next job, probably in China.

There is an Erickson helicopter nicknamed Elvis that goes to Australia to help with bushfires. It can carry up to 9,500 litres of water, making it very useful for firefighting.

In case you are interested the Italian word for helicopter is elicottero.


  1. Deb, here’s a bit of info on the Skycrane excerpted from Wikipedia:

    This is an adaptation of the Sikorsky CH-54 Skycrane. The first flight of the turboshaft-powered S-64 Skycrane was 9 May 1962, with the United States Army eventually purchasing 105, designating them CH-54.

    Today, Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon operates the largest fleet of S-64 helicopters in the world under the name Erickson S-64 Aircrane, which can be equipped with water-dropping equipment (some also have foam/gel capability) for firefighting duties worldwide. After obtaining the type certificate and manufacturing rights in 1992, Erickson remains the manufacturer and world’s largest operator of S-64s.

    • It is an amazing machine, with everything stripped back to lighten the load.

  2. What an incredible aircraft! Thank you for the interesting information.

    • …and such a pretty name for an orange dragonfly.

  3. So cool.

    • …and such a great colour.

  4. How incredible – enjoyed your reader Niles, Wikipedia explanation on the aircraft – will be sending this link to both my glider pilot brother Ian and my grand son who is mad about anything that flies. What a fabulous blog this morning. Thank you and yes we in Australia all remember when ‘Elvis”the special helicopter, arrived to help with the bush fires.

    • I can understand why your boys would be fascinated with Camille.

  5. This elicottero is similar to our ‘Elvis’ the helicopter that comes to assist in bushfire emergencies.

    • Aren’t we lucky to have Elvis to drop by to help?

  6. Are you in Florence Deb? If you are, just read there was a discovery of 20 or so beautiful gowns of the Callot Sisters from 1920s hidden in a trunk. Found in a Floreintine villa….and currently on show. Could be interesting!



    • I can certainly go to Florence to see this. Thanks for the tip.

  7. The moment I read “Ericson Aircrane’ ‘our’ Elvis came to mind! Am always happy when I know ‘he’ has landed back on our shores 🙂 ! Meanwhile am scrolling back up to learn more about Camille . . . thanks . . .

    • Who wouldn’t want a visit from Elvis?

  8. This is very interesting. It must take a special Pilot to fly these helicopters. I can’t imagine how they keep their balance when flying with a heavy load.

    • There are 2 pilots in front and another facing backwards watching and controlling the load. I imagine it takes a lot of skill to operate one of these.

  9. Camille is very beautiful…although a little different. Like most women she is obviously colourful, strong and determined to get the job done!

    • I’m sure she is super efficient.

  10. What an extraordinary air craft. I like the name for helicopter in Pidgin English: Mix Master Belong’m Jesus.

    • I will never think of a helicopter as anything else.

  11. I don’t know if Elvis has been back this summer, but we have two of his kin in Australia every summer for the last several years. They do a fantastic job. They are very noisy when picking up water from the dam in the golf course near us – a small price to pay.

    • I can imagine the noise, but it would be great to watch.

  12. Erickson has 20 aircranes; all individually named.
    Camille was damaged in the 1969 hurricane of the same name; and subsequently rebuilt by Erickson.
    Corpo Forestale in Italy operates 4 similar aircraft out of Lucca. You may see them actively fighting fires during the summer

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: