Eagle 8 HD is an AS350 Astar helicopter manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. It is a single engine, three-bladed, light duty helicopter, and in the normal configuration it is capable of carrying up to six people.

One of the most popular helicopters in the world, the Astar holds many records, including being the only helicopter to ever land at the top of Mount Everest. Eagle 8 HD is equipped with the most state-of-the-art news gathering equipment which allows us to bring the clearest live High Definition pictures to our audience.

Our pilots are always on standby, ready to bring you Breaking News within just minutes. With the ability to be in the air for almost 2 hours at a time, there is nothing within our coverage area that is out of Eagle 8 HD’s reach.


Chase Riter

A native to the Suncoast, Chase grew up in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. His passion for aviation started when his father took him in a friend’s plane when he was just 5 years old. That sparked an interest in flight that never faded.

After graduating from Booker High School in Sarasota, Chase enlisted in the Army as a helicopter mechanic, and was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. That is where his fascination with helicopters grew. He had the opportunity to work on some of largest and most powerful aircraft in the military. When he left the Army he decided to pursue his dream of flying, and began taking helicopter flight lessons.

He has been flying helicopters for 10 years and it has taken him all over the country. He recently flew for WMAQ and WGN in Chicago where he gained experience in one of the nation’s largest media markets. Although he enjoyed his time in Chicago, he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to come home and fly for WFLA. He considers himself extremely fortunate to do what he loves, in the area he loves most. “I have seen some amazing things from the air in my time as a pilot, but the west coast of Florida is hard to beat. It is a privilege to be able to fly over such a beautiful area everyday”.

When he isn’t flying, Chase spends his time fishing, boating, and golfing.


Brian Joyner

A native of Tampa, Florida, News Channel 8's helicopter pilot Brian Joyner has spent most of his life in the bay area.

A two-year hiatus took him to Chicago where he flew for leading news station WLS (ABC 7 Chicago), covering events such as the Blackhawk's 2013 Stanley Cup win, the passing of Illinois' Same Sex Marriage Bill, Chicago Public School protests, and historic tornado damage and flooding.

But when Chicago's snowy winters proved to be too much, he moved to Nevada - piloting tourists around the Las Vegas strip, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon - before returning home to Tampa.

Brian has also worked in aerial photography, power line flightpatrol throughout the state of Florida, and is a certified flight instructor.

When he's not buzzing the skies, you can find Brian splashing in the pool with his daughter or perfecting his swing on the golf course.

Eagle Tweets!

From compelling photos to aerial amazement, Keep an eye on the sky and Twitter for Tampa Bay’s comings and goings.

Take Flight on Eagle 8

Chief photojournalist Paul Lamison takes you on a behind the scenes video tour to show you what it’s like to hit the skies over Tampa Bay. From Peter O. Knight Airport, you can watch the takeoff over Davis Islands and the Bay before returning to the helipad.

Eagle 8 Specs

The AS350 is a single-engine light utility helicopter originally designed and manufactured in France by Aérospatiale and Eurocopter. In North America, the AS350 is marketed as the AStar.

Top Speed: 180 mph
Wingspan: 35' 0"
Length: 36'
Range: 411 miles
Engine Type: Turbomeca Arriel 2D
Max Weight: 5,225 lbs
Maximum Endurance (with no reserves): 4.3 hours

Watch Eagle 8 HD

Whenever news breaks in Tampa Bay, you know Eagle 8 will be there on air, online and on Facebook.