LIVE FROM BAHRAIN
b roll online travels
last update February 28, 1998
B Roll Online has moved from Norfolk and Richmond VA to Manama, Bahrain (a small
independent country in the Persian Gulf). Reporter Mike Gooding and I have been sent here
to cover the Navy's actions in the "Showdown With Iraq."
Photo by: PH1 Martin Maddock
February 23, 1998: We landed last night after flying through New York and
London. The travel time was almost 24 hours. My gear made it in one piece, so we have our
portable SX editor, power adapters, and my trusted 300 Betacam SP Camera and tripod.
We plan to fly out to the USS Guam and USS George Washington in the coming days. They
are Norfolk based ships, and the main reason we are here. I've already decked my camera
with aluminum foil to protect it from the ships radar (which causes RF interference and
break up on the tape).
In the coming days, I will attempt to keep this page updated. I don't know what
telephone access I will have on the ships, so it may be delayed.
Photo by: PH1 Martin Maddock
February 24, 1998:
Day One on the USS Guam
We finally got to shoot a story today. The Navy PIO set us up to to to the USS Guam. We
hopped on a MH53 "Sea Stallions" Helicopter to fly out to the amplibious
Before we departed, the pilot of the chopper introduced himself and explained that his
folks live in Virginia Beach (part of our WVEC-TV market).
He was really excited about his squadron
being on TV. I made a deal with him. If he gave us some good fly by's of the USS
Independence and USS George Washington to get aerial shots, we'd put him on TV for his
folks to see. The deal worked out great, the conditions were great and the shots of the
ships were beautiful.
We won't be able to make up our end of the bargain for a few
days, as are on the ship until Thursday. Then we will fly back to Bahrain and edit the
packages. It's nerve racking not being able to see the images I've shot. I won't know
exactly what I have until I get back to our portable editor in the hotel room back on
Photo by: PH1 Martin Maddock
February 25, 1998:
Day Two on the USS Guam
After a small arms demonstration in the morning, we spent today flying in CH46 Sea Knight
Helicopters from the Guam to other ships in the ARG (Amphibious Ready Group). The USS Oak
Hill and the USS Shreveport showed us all their toys including the AAV's (Amphibious
Assault Vehicles), Humvees and guns.
I had difficulty with the radar on the Shreveport interfering with the electronics in
my camera, but the Captain of the ship was kind enough to shut it off temporarily so we
could shoot. Everyone was extremely helpful, and our Media Rep, JOC Doug Hummel was great.
We'll fly back to Bahrain tomorrow, and put together a number of packages the rest of
the week on WVEC.
Back to Bahrain
We awoke on the third day of our USS Guam stay to the sights and sounds of a Gas Attack
Drill. Marines rehearsed donning their masks, while dismantling their guns, and drinking
through a tube from a canteen. It was kind of eerie to think what it would have been like
if it were real.
Around 2 o'clock we jumped on another MH53 chopper to fly back to
Bahrain. It was rather cold on the flight deck for the Persian Gulf, and on the helo I
took a seat next to the window. My intention was to get an aerial shot of the Guam, but
what I got was a constant cold wind from the half-open window. Imagine driving down the
road at 150 mph with the window down... it wasn't fun.
Once we arrived on land we rushed to complete two packages to send back to the states.
With the expense of satellite time, we try to send as many stories as we can each time.
After getting used to the nuances of the portable SX editor, I was able to get into an
editing groove and complete the packages just in time.
Due to the differences in TV formats (PAL vs. NTSC), we had to carry our own playback
deck to the feed point (Bahrain TV). We hopped in a cab and were off. The feed went smooth
and we were able to send both a regular and "nat sound" version of the stories.
We're off to the USS George Washington for a quick day trip tomorrow. I hope to be back
by the evening.
February 27, 1998:
"A Three Hour Tour":
The famous words from Gilligan's Island rang in my head. We were off to do a day trip onto
the USS George Washington today. Fly in a C2 Cod for an hour, land on the carrier, and
spend 3 Hours on board.
Since we were not stay to overnight, I only took the bare essientials with me. It was
nice not to care all the weighty gear up and down ladders and passageways (with the aptly
named "knee knockers").
If you've never been on a carrier, you
really need a day or two to get the full impression. You fly in on a twin prop airplane
called a "COD" (the possible mental connection to COD LIVER OIL is not lost
here). The plane has no windows and you face towards the back of the craft. You basically
feel as if you are sitting in the back of very bouncy, very noisy U-Haul truck. Imagine
your worst commercial airline experience and multiply it. The landing is the most
impressive, as you fly in at around 180mph and stop on a wire in 3 seconds (good anti-lock
brakes are no comparison to these planes).
Upon landing we RAN around the ship getting all the elements we needed. We talked to
the skipper, or "CO," of the ship, and the Carrier Airwing Commander, or
"CAG." We track down some local pilots, and had just enough time to catch one
rotation of "Flight Ops." They launch 10-15 planes off the catapults, and then
land a similar number.
At that point our time was up. We had to load up to fly back. Fortunately, Reporter
Mike Gooding and I had had carrier experience before. It made it easier to know what we
needed. It was hectic but effective.
|We board the
"COD", hold on for dear life, and shoot off the boat like a cannon... 0-180mph
in about 3 seconds. Your vision fails you with that much force, but the physical pressure
stays in your memory well.
Our journey is almost done. We have two more stories to edit
and feed tomorrow, and then we fly home on Sunday. We may have a little down time in the
next few days, and I'll finally be able do the things I've wanted to do. I want to ride
February 28, 1998
Hurry Up and Wait:
Flying home from Bahrain, I made it
all the way across the Atlantic Ocean
with no problems (except for an
extremely uncomfortable ride on one
flight). As soon as I land in the States
though, things get messed up. I'm
sitting in JFK airport in New York
waiting for my connecting flight home.
Our original flight was canceled for
some reason. We don't leave now for
3 hours. What better thing to do in an
airport but fill in my journal for the day
(and listen to a little REM and Talking
I think I could call the trip to Bahrain a
success, especially since there was
no war. Unfortunately, we are all
predicting we will be back in Bahrain
around November doing this all over
again. I don't think we've seen the last
All the gear worked very well on the
trip, even under the severe conditions
of weather changes and airline travel.
The portable Sony Betacam SX editor
was wonderful. Before you think I'm
doing a sales job for Sony, I should
explain that when I first began working
with the SX format I really disliked it.
There were bugs in the editing
software, intermittent tape problems
with the cameras, and a non-linear
editing system not truly configured for
the rigors of news production.
One of my biggest complaints was the
responsiveness. With the digital
decoding, the original decks were
slow to shuttle and jog and they didn't
want to stop on a dime. I'm pleased to
see that the new SX portable editor is
According to the salesman, the newer
SX systems have upgraded software
greatly improving the responsiveness.
It is still not as good as the analog
versions, but I can see the progress.
The optimistic thing is, because SX is
a digital medium, many problems can
be simply solved with software
upgrades, not full fledge hardware
The editor was just one of the things
that made this trip fairly easy. I'll have
some more pictures and thoughts
soon. I look forward to hearing your
comments and suggestions.
Oh, by the way, I finally got to
ride a camel!
Take care and keep in touch.