Updated at 12:00 p.m. with additional photos and comments from contractors.
The sound of a circling helicopter startled several North Redondo Beach residents Wednesday morning, leading at least one to speculate that the helicopter was part of a police search.
"Helicopters over my house for 30 minutes!" tweeted Amanda Sueki, whose Twitter page indicates she lives in North Redondo. "Can you find him already … I'm sleepy."
It wasn't a police search, however—the helicopter was lifting new five-ton HVAC units onto the roof of the to replace older units that have been in place since the 1980s, according to the Galleria's Twitter account and contractors on site.
ACCO Engineered Systems, an HVAC contractor based in Glendale, hired Seal Beach company Atlas Airlift to complete the tough job of lifting giant HVAC components to tricky areas on the Galleria's roof, according to an ACCO employee on site.
The employee said that the height of certain parts of the Galleria made using a conventional crane to hoist the equipment cost prohibitive. As a comparison, a crane large enough to do the job would have cost $50,000, whereas the helicopter in use only cost $15,000 for the day, he said.
The helicopter began lifting the new air condition units shortly after 6 a.m. The last of the 20 was placed at about 9:45 a.m.
Contractors said that the job had to be done at an early hour before the mall opened for safety reasons.
Curious onlookers pulled their cars over to watch the action and used their cell phones to capture photos and video of the scene.
Because of the installation of the new units, the mall was not scheduled to open until 11 a.m. Wednesday.