WBTV Secrets: The man behind WBTV's Sky 3 - | WBTV Charlotte

WBTV Secrets: The man behind WBTV's Sky 3

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Station Secret time!

We all think WBTV's Sky 3 is pretty cool around here. Have you ever wondered who flies the helicopter?

Here he is! Meet Thomas Hopkins!

When I asked if I could tell his secret, he said, “What’s my secret? That I exist?”

So, there's a lot more to him. He got his start in the Navy. He was on a Helicopter Aircrew Search and Rescue Team. He was a rescue swimmer that flew around in a helicopter. Compared to those of us who have been in the media all our lives, that’s a whole different kind of exciting!

When he got out of the Navy, he wanted to be a pilot so he got his license. His buddy reminded him he has spent years in the back of a helicopter, why not give that a try? He was an instructor for a few years and he’s been the WBTV Sky 3 helicopter pilot since May of 2012.

Thomas has been on some pretty cool adventures in the news business. (By the way, here’s how it works. He flies the helicopter and a photographer rides along and shoots video. He doesn’t shoot the video himself. He keeps his eyes to the sky.) It seems like he enjoys the car chases the most. Who gets to see a whole car chase other than the bad guy, the police... and the helicopter pilot?

He said he covered a person stealing a dump truck once. There was a three-hour standoff. The guy had a gun to his head and was sitting in the dump truck. He followed it all from above. Thomas saw a cliff rescue in the Linville Gorge and had a pretty special view of the first Charlotte Knights game and the McAdenville Christmas lights. He spent quite a bit of time checking out the Columbia floods last year. He saw the dam breech and water going on for miles. He even chased a bald eagle one day. He always has to watch for birds but it’s not every day he gets to fly with an eagle.

Since I’m a Meteorologist, we talk weather. Talk about your job depending on the weather! There are days when he just can’t fly due to winds, storms or low visibility. He’s become a bit of an amateur meteorologist himself.

So, there you go - the man behind WBTV Sky 3! Wave the next time you see him fly over!

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