BIDDEFORD — Central Maine Power has confirmed it was responsible for a lowflying helicopter that caught the attention of residents and police as it flew over the Biddeford area Tuesday morning.

Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for CMP, said Tuesday that the helicopter was being used to inspect a transmission line that runs from Saco to Buxton, servicing about 3,200 customers in Biddeford, Saco, Buxton, Hollis and Dayton.

Rice said a project to replace all the transmission towers along the approximately 12-mile line, which has been in place since 1923, is slated to begin shortly, and the helicopter was used to give the company “one more look prior to beginning” that project.

“This is a pretty big proj- ect that’s going to be very beneficial to the area,” said Rice. “Essentially this is to improve service in that area.”

Still, the helicopter concerned some Biddeford residents who observed it flying very low – sometimes only barely above tree level – near Alfred Street Tuesday morning, prompting Biddeford police to look into the situation, Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fisk said Tuesday.

Before determining it was CMP, Fisk said police suspected it might be a Maine Warden Service helicopter looking for patches of marijuana in the woods; the warden service uses a helicopter very similar in appearance to the one CMP flew over the city Tuesday.

Biddeford Municipal Airport Manager Frank McCutcheon, whom police initially contacted for answers on the aircraft, said Tuesday that although people might not like helicopters flying a few dozen feet from the ground, they don’t have to follow the same rules as airplanes.

“They can go fly at 50 feet,” he said. “Of course people aren’t going to like that so they generally don’t. They can buzz right along at tree level and do anything they want basically.”

Rice said people should not be alarmed if they see “the same thing” in the near future, as CMP plans to soon begin its biannual flyovers of all its transmission lines to make sure no trees or other objects are “encroaching” on them.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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