This is a Bell 206L3 Long Ranger. Photo: Wikimedia.

From Pacific Gas and Electric:

On Wednesday, June 27, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will conduct routine low-level helicopter patrols to inspect gas transmission lines in Humboldt County. A helicopter from Red Bluff will fly between 300 and 500 feet over Fortuna, Eureka and Arcata. 

PG&E patrols remote gas lines, which are often located in rural areas, by helicopter as part of its continuing effort to ensure the safety and reliability of its natural gas system. If issues or obstructions are identified, it is possible helicopters may need to fly at a lower altitude for additional inspections.

A spotter in the helicopter uses a GPS-enabled tablet with mapping data to navigate the pipelines and document excavation and construction activity, or other observations that warrant follow-up. Where appropriate, PG&E ground personnel are sent to construction areas to verify that safe digging practices are being followed. This includes confirming the use of a valid 811 ticket for proper marking of underground utility lines that help prevent the gas line from being hit.

So far this year, there have been seven strikes on gas lines in Humboldt County and six in Mendocino County.  Accidental strikes cause damage to underground gas, electric and telecommunications infrastructure and are public safety risks. Striking a gas line during excavation can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages to an entire neighborhood. It can be prevented with a free call to 811.

Weather permitting, flights will occur between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PG&E will fly in a contracted helicopter out of Eureka, likely a Bell 206L3 Long Ranger that is blue and white.