Bulger's Beat: Nashville pilot helps stop Antarctic whale hunter - WSMV News 4

Bulger's Beat: Nashville pilot helps stop Antarctic whale hunters

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A Nashville helicopter pilot is on his way to Antarctica and the South Pole, all part of a dangerous mission to save humpback whales.

Roger Danner started flying helicopters at the age of 16, mostly for pure enjoyment and, occasionally, for pure adventure.

So when the television show Whale Wars, which airs on Animal Planet, learned of his skill, the producers wondered if he would be willing to come fly for that show.

Danner said it took about two seconds for him to answer.

"How can you say, 'No?' Going to Antarctica at my age, you have just got to do it," he said.

Whale Wars documents the intense daily fight between Japanese whaling ships, hunting and killing nearly extinct humpback whales in the Southern Ocean near the South Pole, and the environmentalists working to stop them.

Finding those whale hunters in the middle of the ocean requires a helicopter, so that is where Roger comes in.

Adventure needed to be on the resume, too, so flights to Australia and a world record for once jetskiing from New York to Miami convinced Animal Planet that Danner was their guy.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime for me," he said. "I'm not getting any younger, so I just can't wait to go."

The South Pole won't be anything like his typically relaxing rides over Nashville.

"A bad day will be 20 degrees below zero, and I've got the ocean to consider, rolling, pitching 6 to 8 feet, and then you're trying to land the helicopter on a little pad. It's pretty difficult," he said.

For a helicopter pilot, it's a job only a few could do or would do. However, Danner - a fierce environmentalist - is all in.

"Hopefully, I'll save some whales in the process and make it home," he said.

Danner left for his South Pole adventure Sunday.

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