Chopper pilot never has parking problems

Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

Roger Clifford rarely has problems finding a parking place when he visits Demopolis’s Holiday Inn Express. He just lands his helicopter on the hotel’s front lawn.

A resident of Robertsdale, Clifford is employed by Chem-Air of Shreveport, La., and has been working there for the last 26 years. He sprays the area forestlands with herbicides to help keep the grass and weeds from stunting the growth of pine tree seedlings.

“They planted the pines back in January,” he said. “If you don’t stop that grass from growing up over them, it really stunts those trees. This gives those pines a bit of a chance to grow above it and get a lot better survival rate.”

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“We work for different clients — foresters and what-not from east Texas to around Georgia,” he said. “I spend a lot of time in southwest Alabama.”

He often lands his helicopter on the lawns of hotels where he stays overnight.

“Most hotels don’t have any problem with it,” he said. “Of course, you have to be safe . If this were a big sand pit, and you sand-blast some lawyer’s BMW, that would be a bad deal.”