31 December 2008

The Artist Formerly Known As "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince"

I love my title, don't you?

Prince's "1999"...
It's ten years since the year/focus of the song. So much apocalyptic worrying about the transition from 1999 to 2000, it all ended up just being so much unnecessary worry. We should always remember that, shouldn't we?...
Change the things you can, but ignore the things you have no power to change.
Are you, like me, worried about a financial collapse in the coming year? What are you doing to protect yourself?

Still, I love the song.
(Ya gotta put up with a short advertisement to view it.)

29 December 2008


This is how bad it's gotten...
The alarm went off this morning and I sat up in bed, sighed, and wiped the sleep from my eyes. Sara Jean turned my way and said, "Thank God, last day."
"Yep. And I'm sure ready for the time off."

Out the door half an hour later I have a 40 minute drive to work... enough time to catch up on news of the world and pour two cups of coffee from my thermos.
Approaching our base...
"What's this?"
Phil's car is sitting in the parking lot. Not a good sign. I'm supposed to be relieving Dan, not Phil. Did he make an error reading the schedule, or did I? We're all tired, three of us doing the work of four. I walk in the door and he's as confused as me... he grabs the schedule, and I'm not supposed to be there. The Flight Nurse has baked fresh cinnamon rolls, so the trip is not without its rewards. I eat two, then get back in the car and drive 40 minutes back home to start my three day visit with my son.
It's a beautiful day and I'm up early to enjoy it.
Things could be worse!

Mid-East Unrest-

He Lied To Us! He Played On Our Fears!

And then they gave Al Gore a Nobel Prize for being such a great liar.
Why do we have to depend on the U.K. media for this information? Why isn't our media ALL OVER THIS?

28 December 2008

Aunt Violette's Peanut Butter Cookies

I love peanut butter cookies. This "Dunlop's disease" you see overhanging my beltline? That's them! Sara Jean can bake up a batch of peanut butter cookies, pour me an ice-cold glass of milk, and I need nothin' else... just go away a while and leave me alone to concentrate on doin' some damage to that pile of cookies.

I've decided I now know you well enough to share one of life's wonderful simplicities. Even if you don't like PB cookies yourself I know that you know someone who does and you'd secretly like them to be your cookie slave, wouldn't you? Here's your ticket to owning a Peanut Butter cookie lover...

My Aunt Violette's PB Cookie recipe.

Before we start, lemme tell ya... YOU GOTTA TRUST OL' GREYBEARD.
Have I ever done ya wrong? No! So when you see how simple this recipe is you're not gonna believe it, and you'll be tempted to tinker. DON'T!

Aunt Violette's Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Peanut Butter
1 Egg

Mix ingredients, flatten 'em like ya do with PB cookies, bake 'em at 350 degrees until they're done.
That's it.

Sara Jean has learned to add just a touch of vanilla for flavoring and I like that, but it's not really necessary for excellent cookies.
Your peanut butter must be oily. We use Kroger's store brand and Sara Jean mixes half crunchy and half creamy Peanut Butter. I've tried Peter Pan PB and the cookies don't maintain their integrity coming out of the oven.

Some of my peeps reading this blog have actually masticated these wonderful morsels. Maybe a few of them can vouch for what I have written here.
How 'bout it Peeps?

26 December 2008

Trip 19 Postscript

Random thoughts on the ferry trip:
-Everyone smiles at the goofy guy wearing the Santa hat.

-Virtually everyone you meet while traveling is nice.

-No matter how comfortable the bed, sleeping in a strange room in a strange bed with another dude in the bed next to ya DOES NOT lead to restful sleep.

-Some people pass gas loud enough while sleeping to wake you.
(See above. I wasn't sleeping that deeply, but I thought Gabriel was sounding his trumpet!)

-While flying on Christmas Eve, you have airways and airports pretty much to yourself.

-Climbing to 9500 feet indicated with a sinus blockage is damned uncomfortable.

-Descending from 9500 feet with a sinus blockage is more uncomfortable.

-Tailwinds truly are a gift from God. Strong tailwinds are a near-miracle.

-A backup pair of sunglasses is only a luxury if you don't lose your first pair.

-There are too few good restaurants at, or within walking distance of small airports.

-Airport courtesy cars, although clean and serviceable, never seem to have fewer than 150,000 miles.

-Those airports I know have courtesy cars have first priority on my list of places to stay overnight.

-GPS may be the most dramatic change in aviation... or maybe even life, in my experience.

-There is a whole lotta country out there where you can go a long way without running into another soul.

-Anything living in the desert has a hard time making a living.

-I'm ready to do it again. Let's go!

25 December 2008

Trip 19 Wrap-up

Get into your car and drive to the grocery. Sometimes you can do that and, arriving at the grocery, not even remember passing through certain intersections or stopping at a certain traffic light.
Flying locally can be a little like that. Dealing with familiar things... airport, landmarks, flying an aircraft you are accustomed to... you can relax and enjoy the sensory part of flying. There is almost no planning involved, and little worry about flying into "restricted" or "prohibited" airspace... you know where that is and know exactly how to avoid it.

Flying cross-country, particularly in a brand-new aircraft, is a little like renting a car in a big, unfamiliar city and trying to efficiently make it across town in a short amount of time. It comes with all sorts of stresses:
-You're flying a brand new aircraft.

Moving parts sometimes take a while to realize they all need to work as a team in order for the machine to do its job. Knowing this, you know you have to keep an eye (or ear) out for trouble.

-There truly is airspace out there you have to avoid or you'll be in big trouble. As an example, Disneyland is now a "no-fly" area. Accidentally overfly Disneyland and a commercial pilot may find himself without a certificate to earn a living.

-In your local area you know the signs dangerous weather is approaching. You know what to watch for and you know which indicators need immediate action and which can be put on a "watch" list. Flying far from home takes you out of this comfort zone. Unfamiliar terrain and unfamiliar weather patterns rightfully cause a little stress in a transient pilot. Smart cross-country pilots will seek the advice of a local pilot the moment she/he begins to feel uncomfortable with anything out of the ordinary.

-Ferrying an aircraft normally means you're on some sort of schedule. Someone wants the machine in a certain place at a certain time, and $$$$ are being spent to insure that happens. Just keeping everyone informed of your progress and happy with the situation can also be stressful.

We had some of all of that this trip. As I've indicated, the R44 gave us NO trouble at all... it ran like a sewing machine both days. We did however encounter some threatening weather, and anxiously watched the weather channel and took a look at weather radar whenever it was available at our fuel stops. We truly thought our last day would be delayed or postponed due to ice... we simply cannot fly in freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or a mix of snow/sleet/anything with "freezing" preceding the type of precipitation. Thankfully the forecast 24 hours prior to our flight Wednesday was wrong, wrong, wrong! We flew a little over 8 hours Wednesday without a cloud in the sky.

Little airports are like little towns... they roll up the sidewalk and shut down the lights at dusk. I don't like flying a new machine at night, but made an exception this time because we had several hours under our belts in this helicopter and it seemed to be working just fine, and we wanted to be home with family for Christmas. Still, we stayed VERY CLOSE to Interstate highways after dark, just in case something went "bump" in the night. Thank God, nothing went bump.
But flying after dark requires special planning for fuel and services. Little airports normally have signs in the terminal window saying "After hours call ....." with a telephone number for someone supposedly on call to come ASAP and fuel you if you need it, and they charge a call-out fee that makes this painful. If they're doing something they don't want to leave, like sleeping at 4 A.M., they sometimes won't answer the phone or will tell you "I'll be there in 3 hours." NOT GOOD.
So it's better to plan your stops around bigger airports with airline or commuter service after dark... there is almost always someone already there to pump your fuel.
And that's what we did last night. Fuel at bigger airports is normally more expensive, but it's not as expensive as fuel+ call out fee.

I love ferrying helicopters home from California. We get to see about 2/3rds of the country up close and very personal, and we're traveling at a speed that is fast enough not to be boring. We can fly low enough to see flora and fauna... we saw deer and wild pigs on this trip. Just North of Tucson we could see a fenced-in area full of critters we knew were different, and upon checking found several hundred ostriches slightly uncomfortable with our low pass. We're low enough that my (still pretty great) eyes can read the road signs and tell how far it is to EL Paso, for instance.

This particular trip went normally. For that I am grateful.
I don't recommend doing it with the remnants of a cold.
I do think most of you would enjoy the experience though.
Buy a helicopter and I'll give you an experience you'll remember the rest of your life!

And again, thanks to all for following along, and thanks especially for those with advice and comments.

Christmas With The Original Snoop Dog

I hope Christ's Birthday is filled with love and laughter for all!

24 December 2008

Home Safely

So tired I'm buggy, but all is well. We had a 30 knot tailwind almost the entire trip... the fastest trip I have ever made from L.A.. The R44 performed perfectly.
Wrapup tomorrow as time permits. Thanks everyone again for sharing thoughts and comments!

"The Boss"

Like the Dixie Twits, here's another talented idiot that I enjoy but will have to steal from because I don't want to reward him for his stupid political opinion.

Dateline: Marriott Business Center

Too cheap to pay the $10 per day fee for wifi in the room, I'm sending my luv from the business center, next to the free coffee in the lobby. Can't stay on the computer longer than half an hour... others are waiting, looking at their watches to check my usage here.

Weather looks good for getting outta here. We may catch up with this frontal movement on our way home and have to sit and wait for it to move in front of us, but if we can make it home for Christmas we'll be there!

Tim, Frank had the Angus Cheeseburger and fries at Marana. I had the Turkey with lettuce and tomato and onion rings. It wasn't the Ritz, but we were hungry and both sandwiches went down quite quickly. I'll take your suggestion at CHD at some point in the future though, and your lunch is on me.

Normally our first stop out of ELP is at Carlsbad, N.M.. It's a long leg, depending on wind... a little over two hours in the R44. If winds keep blowin' up our ass we might even make Hobbs, N.M., and that's what we'll try for... longer legs with fewer stops today because we have a little more faith in the reliability of this new machine. So far it has performed perfectly... burning less oil (but a little more fuel) than normal. All that may settle down as the day progresses.

Frank brought an MP3 player and has the ability to plug it into the intercom system. We've been listening to Beach Boys, Doobies, Eagles, Elvis, Herman's Hermits (!), and Cher. I've been thankful for the extra room the R44 provides... you can actually do a little boogying in that seat without changing the CG a great deal.

I can see home just over the horizon folks, and it feels great.
C'mon weather... give us a break!

More later.

What Christmas Is All About

My best to you and yours. God Bless us, every one!

23 December 2008

Tuesday Evening, Dateline: EL Paso

We're safely in ELP.
Out of Torrance this morning just after 9 A.M... gorgeous weather and wind out of the West.
First stop at Blythe California at 11 or so. Second stop at Marana, AZ, just north of Tucson. It had just finished raining at Marana and there were clouds noticeably building South of Tucson. We shot the gap between Davis-Monthan and Tucson International in a light rain, watching anxiously as low scud and rain showers grew South of us. But Interstate 10 makes a turn to the East just South of Tucson, and that turn kept us clear of the really ugly stuff. Visibilities went to about 10 miles in rain with moderate turbulence at Lordsburg, but headlights on the highway were comforting. And that was the worst of it... by the time we got to Deming the visibility improved dramatically. We landed ELP just after sundown, so the lights of Juarez were fantastic. It's 64 degrees here and the only thing keeping it from being perfect is a wind of about 10 knots... I'm glad to have a jacket.

We've had a tailwind all the way. I didn't realize until we started that Frank had brought his own Garmin 295, and his gps was indicating a ground speed of 147 knots most of the trip today. Keith's R44 is smooth and a joy to fly. We're having a ball, except we're watching sleet/snow/rain/mix along our route tomorrow. I plan to take an Easterly route out of ELP tomorrow to try to stay South of the freeze line, then tack Northbound after the front has passed our destination.
Keep your fingers crossed for us.

We're in good spirits. The extra day in L.A. was just what the Doc ordered for my coughing and snotting. I'm MUCH improved today, and Frank is thankful for that, although he's not without a cough or sneeze now and then himself.
Early start tomorrow. Home by nightfall?
Hope so. Christmas at home would be wonderful.

Tuesday Morn. First Post

Woke at 5.
Stepped out of the room to see stars!
Looks like we'll be outta here this A.M..
Updates coming as circumstances allow.
Thanks for reading, and caring.
Merry Christmas to all!

22 December 2008

Albert Hammond Has It Right!

We're done for the day. All the paperwork is done. Preflight is done. Stuff we need for the flight is already on board the R44. The delivery guys have been advised to push the aircraft onto the flight line first thing in the morning.
Front Desk Clerk Marlene is aware we'll be needing our room at the Ramada one more night. The forecast for tomorrow is better, but that forecast indicates we'll be fighting a rain/sleet/snow mix all the way home from the Texas panhandle. Not fun. I hope the forecast is wrong.

Big Bubba is home from Arizona. Sara Jean is on the way to pick him up as I post this. It's nice Sara Jean won't be alone tonight, but I sure wish I was there with them both to share this holiday time.
(You guys think of me while watching
"The Snowman", and be prepared to watch it again when I'm home!)

Still more, later.

Keith Did It!

I'm thinking that will be the new mantra for this ferry trip:
More on that in a sec.

It's raining. It's foggy.
I first brought a helicopter home from Torrance in 1988. Eighteen trips later and I awake to find, for the very first time, rain and poor visibilities. Traffic copters are zipping over the highways, but those folks know where every wire and tower is in the local area. Remember, Ol' Greybeard falls into the category of "Old Pilot" because he most generally avoided being a "Bold Pilot". Takeoff is gonna be delayed today, and may be postponed until much later... forecast winds in the foothills when this stuff blows Eastward are 50 knots. Ouch.

Keith is the new owner of this machine. When we made the arrangement for me to provide ferry services for him he said, "I'll have Mary Ann make your flight reservations, you take care of everything else."
What a deal.
He booked us on Southwest airlines, which brought a smile to my face. But we first flew to Jacksonville, Florida, then to Seattle Washington, then on to L.A..
Incredible, huh?
That's because I just lied to ya. It's not quite that bad. Here's the true story:
We flew to Dallas Love, then to Albuquerque, and then to LAX. We were on airplanes or in airports more than 8 hours yesterday. THANK YOU KEITH! See if I allow Mary Ann to make my flight reservations again in this lifetime! NOT!

Booked into the Ramada, we went and ate Chinese. WARNING: When they say HOT and SPICY in Southern Cal. and you order "General Tso's Chicken", be sure you are in a restaurant where they provide unlimited beverage refills... you're gonna need 'em. I'm ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE I'll be reminded tomorrow of the wonderful meal we had last night!

Back in the motel room we got out charts and started initial planning for today's trip. Keith loaned us his new Garmin 496... nice gesture, huh? We had a 296 set out to bring along with us, but Keith's offer of the 496 was too good to refuse. I bought new batteries for it and Frank got the 496 out of his bag to install them. The Garmin looked like a Christmas tree with no star on top...
NO ANTENNA! New batteries or old, it's worthless to us! KEITH DID IT!

So now we wait and watch. There is a break in the weather forecast this afternoon and I'd like to get started Eastbound, even if we can only make it a short distance.
Please don't worry. I promise decisions will be made with safety utmost on the agenda.

Thanks for the generous offer. I'll keep your phone number at hand, and at minimum would like to buy lunch at some point. Keep your ears open for my ring.

More coming.

21 December 2008

First Step West

Did I pack everything I need?
Can't sleep. Woke at 5 A.M. and turned on the Weather Channel to see what the next few days have in store for us. Old man Winter blew in pretty forcefully here last night...
Temps down near single digits and the wind is invading the house wherever it can. Desi the Dachshund is still here visiting with us from Arizona and I think he's in total shock that it's not 70 degrees outside. Both dogs sleep with us, under the covers, and now I need to know... what's normal body temp for a dog? Whatever it is, thank GOD for it! They're better than any hot water bottle.

Within the half hour I'll be out the door with single carry-on in hand. Charts, hand-held radio, toiletries and clothing for three days. I have to be back at work in the BK bright and early Christmas morning, so there's little room for any surprises on this trip. Weather or maintenance glitches? I'll be forced into a rental car and we'll have to formulate a "plan B".

A side note for Tim and others:
There is a line of folks champing at the bit to make this trip home with me. I feel somewhat like Rod Blagojevich... what's my highest bid for this seat? Former student Frank is coming along with me this time. Making the trip will qualify him to make the next one by himself, and it'll be nice having another pilot capable to fly a machine Eastbound if I cannot do it myself.

The Weather Channel says L.A. will be 64 today, so it's a great day to vacate the Midwest. Viet Nam crew chief Warlord 840 cannot meet me this time so I'll be taxiing down the Pacific Coast Highway to Torrance and will have to find my own way to a good Mexican dinner. Yeah, next time Slick!

Wifi available, I'll post updates as possible. And this time I'm gonna try to take bunch of pictures to share, rather than put more mileage on a camera that gets left in its case.

Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts.
More later.

19 December 2008

Trip #19

Please, please, please, I want to get well.
Once again I'm headed to Los Angeles Sunday to spend the night at the Ramada Inn in Torrance. Bright and early Monday morning I'll sign my name to take possession of a machine much like the one pictured, then start Eastbound with it. This will be trip number 19 with a Robinson helicopter. I'm more concerned about weather this time than in past journeys... it's rained a lot in the Phoenix area this week. Maybe all that will be clear by the time we need to pass through. But the forecast is for a real "Alberta Clipper" to clobber the Midwest this weekend, and I'm a little fearful of what that might bring for my leg from EL Paso back into America's heartland.
Oh well, serenity prayer time, right?

We're still short a pilot at our base. I have to be back at my full-time job Christmas night. I need your kind thoughts and prayers.
Updates will be forthcoming.

17 December 2008

Work Blogging

Ya gotta be careful. If you start blogging about work, you can quickly find yourself in trouble. Cross a certain line, and you can find yourself unemployed.
So I gotta walk a balance beam here. At some point I hope to be able to share the problem with you but for now I'll just say, indirectly it has something to do with this post.

We're short a pilot at our base. We're short a pilot at several of our bases. Not long ago, if I called in sick, some greedy guy would jump on the chance to fill my slot at time-and-a-half.
No more.

I've worked 21 of the past 23 shifts. On New Year's day I will have worked 25 of December's 31 days. Big paychecks just before Christmas are wonderful, but two nights ago Sara Jean asked, "Are we okay?" It's been too long since we've had "together" time. We're both feeling the strain.

I've got a mild bug. I'm hackin', blowin' my nose, continually clearing my throat. So far, I've been controlling it with over the counter meds. But bein' short a pilot makes truly taking care of yourself difficult... there's no "down time".

Another of our pilots called in sick this morning. There's no one to take his place. Our BK sat idle in the hangar all day. My lead pilot just called and asked if I could come in an hour or two early to get the aircraft and crew back in service. I blew my nose, coughed, and said I'd be there.

Mucous. I'm intimately familiar with it right now and trying to figure an interesting way to blog about it.
You've been warned.

A "Three Dog Night" With One Dog

I'll bring your attention once again to this post and my caution to dress appropriately during these cold Winter days.
An alternative? Keep a good dog, or two, or three with you, and they might save your life!

Why Not Studebaker?

The idea came to me in that half-asleep state you sometimes experience as you first wake...
We're intent on saving the American auto industry and the jobs they provide, right? No matter the efficiency of these efforts or the economic sense of pouring money down a rat-hole... Jobs are to be preserved!
So... Why not "save" Studebaker?
Studebaker shuttered their auto making business in 1966, idling a big plant in the heart of the nation and leaving thousands of production workers, dealers, salespersons, parts suppliers, mechanics, and other associated workers out of jobs.
But all Studebaker's problems could be overcome with an infusion of, say, 15 Billion dollars, and the economy of South Bend Indiana would be revitalized by the plant's reopening.

The 1964 Studebaker Avanti shown above still looks like a car from the future. With a rust-free fiberglass body, an integral roll bar, and the first use of disc brakes by a major (?) U.S. automaker, it was YEARS ahead of its time. Take a look at the 1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe and I think you'll agree, Studebaker built beautiful, innovative cars. If we're gonna save this industry, why not reward folks that were making interesting, cutting-edge automobiles?

President Bush.... If you're gonna throw tons of money at a problem, logic be damned, throw a few Billions toward South Bend, Indiana!

16 December 2008

It's Christmas Time!

"Status Quo"... never heard of 'em.
Apparently the tune is new... hadn't heard it either.
Catchy. See if ya like it:

I saw it over at Theo's.

15 December 2008

White Christmas

It's time. Tonight we had our base Christmas party, so I got out my "Santa's helper" hat and will be wearing it until Christmas night. Yeah, I look like a goober in it but it often brings a smile to faces, and looking like a goober is no big deal... I've certainly been called worse! But there is no denying... it's finally Christmas season.

Retail outlets have been playing Christmas music since Halloween. Right now I'm listening to Jose Feliciano sing "Feliz Navidad" on the Sirius music channel on DishTV. Sara Jean and I try to watch all the old classic Christmas movies this time of year- "The Bishop's Wife", "It's A Wonderful Life", and "Miracle On 34th Street" to name a few.
I have to watch "The Christmas Story" solo... she either doesn't understand or refuses to try to understand the humor there...
(At ten years my junior, maybe there's a generational disconnect?)

I can't say why I had never watched "White Christmas"... maybe it was because it was a musical, but Sara Jean and I had been together several years when we just happened to have it on the TV while we were doing other things, not really paying attention. Close to the end of the movie there is a dance scene, and I can only say when I glanced at the screen I was dumbstruck... stopped dead in my tracks watching the dancer's performance. At some point I noticed the dancer was having the same effect on my wife. When the scene was over we both noticeably exhaled and said "Wow, that gal has got some legs!" At that point I mistakenly thought it was
Mitzi Gaynor.
But this dancer/actress's name is Vera-Ellen. Look at the pictures and see if you agree the two actresses resemble one another.
Here's the video clip that had me and my wife thunderstruck:

Like the Glenn Miller post below, Vera's life doesn't have a "storybook ending". In the clip you can see she is wearing a high neck... that's to disguise the fact that she was anorexic and her neck looked older than her years. In 1963 her infant daughter died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and she apparently never fully recovered from that blow. She died of Cancer at the age of 60.

It's bittersweet to watch this scene from the movie and take such pleasure in it, knowing she had so many troubles in her personal life. She danced with the best-
Astaire, Kelly, and in this movie, Danny Kaye.
Before she died I hope she was aware of how many of us love to watch her do what she did best.
Watching this clip, I'm still in awe.

14 December 2008

Glenn Miller

(Cute touch... watch the violins at about 2:15.)

We lost him 64 years ago today. His Wikipedia entry is here, where you can read that trying to volunteer for service in WWII at age 38, initially none of the services were interested in him. Read the "Disappearance" section there... then read this link and come to your own conclusion about the mystery of his death.
Patriot and hero... his music still makes ya "pat your foot".

11 December 2008

Do You Like Rod.... What'shisname?

Hoosiers, Get Serious!

Folks in my home State can no longer smile for their driver's license picture, because it foils "face recognition" technology.
I have a suggestion for my male friends back in Indiana...
Grow a full beard and long, bushy moustache.... long enough to cover your lips.
Smile surreptitiously.
Shave the whole works off when you get home from the DMV.

Who do these damn people think they work for?

08 December 2008

3 A.M., Sixteen Degrees, Wind Chill -4F.

The phone rings anytime after midnight- you can be pretty sure it's not a personal call.
"Weather check for Limetown, please."
"We can do that."
"Then your scene flight is a go. It's an MVA with extrication still in progress. We'll have more information to relay when you're airborne."

I was napping. I don jacket, stocking cap, and gloves and step outside toward the helicopter. My breath is taken away...
The temperature has dropped and the wind has picked up... 16 degrees F. with 12 knots of wind from the Northwest.

I start both engines, take off, and quickly turn on the bleed-air heater.
"Your coordinates are ********************.

Your patient is a 23 year old male victim of a two-car head-on collision. They are still extricating him. You are the second aircraft to respond to this scene. (Our competitor) has an aircraft on the ground at the scene now. Your point of contact is Unit 7201 on Fire-Mutual Aid."
I punch in the coordinates and announce "Our ETA is 12 minutes."
"Roger that".

I change the frequency on my secondary radio to Fire-Mutual Aid and contact Unit 7201. He gives us LZ information and an update on our now extricated patient. Our patient is the unrestrained driver of one of the cars and somehow found himself trapped halfway outside the car when the machinery came to a stop and the dust settled.
In addition to having two broken legs, he's bruised and contused all over.

With 50 miles visibility, we see the flashing lights at the scene, 20 miles distant . The air-to-air frequency crackles...

"****** 4 this is ######### 8, over." It's our competitor.
I can see his anti-collision light as he lifts from the scene. He fills in details about the LZ and tells us his destination. I appreciate his professionalism.

We circle and recon the accident scene. There are wires to the East and South of our landing area and the wind is strongly out of the Northwest, so I'll have to cross over the wires to land. We're landing in a newly harvested soybean field, but we've had enough rain lately that dust and debris shouldn't be much of a problem. The ground guys have 4 red strobes marking the LZ for us. West of the scene we see 4 flashlights, well dispersed, searching for something. South of the scene we see 3 more searchers, also well dispersed.

"Base, *******4 is landing scene".
"Roger ******4."

After turning on my fixed landing lights and adjusting my two moveable searchlights I say to my crew:
"As usual gang, this will be steep and slow. Shout if you see anything."

Safely on the ground my crew unloads the stretcher and heads to the ambulance. I log my landing time and exact coordinates, then dismount to keep innocents from walking into the tail rotor. The scene commander approaches and shakes my hand. I ask about the searchers....
"One of the victims thinks one of the passengers walked off, dazed and confused."

To myself I wonder if we'll be coming back here later for a hypothermia patient.

From a knoll behind our BK117 I can see the scene-
Two small cars collided head-on, and both cars have extensive left-front damage. The roof of one car has been cut at the "A" pillars and folded back over the trunk and the driver's door is bent open...
Our victim's car?

Ten minutes pass and my crew approaches with the assistance of two ground personnel... a guy at each corner of the stretcher trying to smooth the way across the rutted soybean field. I stand guard to insure no one strays too far toward the rear of the aircraft. Patient loaded, I direct our helpers away from the aircraft, then close the clamshell doors as my crew boards the aircraft. I do a final walk around to insure all doors are secure and nothing is hanging outside the aircraft, board, plug in, buckle up, and bring the engines to operating RPM. Searchlights/landing lights back on, I sweep the moveable searchlight left to right in several sweeps as we takeoff and climb out. I turn the heater on full-blast to help warm our patient. The flight to and landing at the Trauma Center are routine.

Now, please consider-
How do you dress when driving on these Winter days?
I'm not sure what time this accident happened, but the scene was in a very rural area, so from the time of the accident let's assume it took EMS personnel 20 minutes to arrive. After their arrival it took another 20 minutes to free our patient who was trapped by the mangled driver's door.
In shirtsleeves, he was exposed to 16 degree temperatures and 12 knot winds for at least 40 minutes. Had he and other people involved in this accident not been near homes that heard and quickly reported the collision, those times would have been much longer.

The force of any collision could break (all?) windows and will certainly send loose articles in the car flying. So if you are trapped you'd better be wearing warm clothing...
If you're immobilized you won't be able to search for and put them on, post-collision.
When driving, do you dress to prepare to be exposed to such conditions?
You (we) should!

04 December 2008

Distaff Handgun Self-Defense

Had enough talk about handguns?
Jinksto adds his two cents and his comments are directed at you ladies.
Good stuff.

03 December 2008

Failure X 2

Structural failure of the tail boom, then watch as rescuers try to kill their patient.

02 December 2008

Concealed Carry

If you have not already done so, read the post below this one.
Then, if you are interested in such things, read

01 December 2008

Packin' Heat

"You were WHAT?!!"

I had never talked about it, so my son was surprised.
He was making a movie... a requirement toward his college degree. One of the characters in his movie was a cop doing a drug investigation, and my son had bought a cheesy looking plated pot-metal badge for the cop to flash in his movie.

"I was a Deputy Sheriff and I have a real badge and case you can use instead of that ugly thing."
"Man Dad! What else don't I know about you?"
Lots son.
Lots and lots.
I dug out my old badge case and he put it to good use in his film...
He got an "A" on that project, too!

My primary duty in what was, at the time, the fastest growing County in the Midwest, was to fly the helicopter to support the ground cops. Watching them doing their jobs convinced me I never wanted to actually do "Police work".
Even Barney Fife is at risk every day he puts on the uniform.

Wearing a regular holster in a helicopter is problematic. Those of you that have been reading "Pitchpull" since 2005 may remember I carried a .38 Special in a regular holster in Viet Nam and used it as genital body armor in order to keep it out of the way of the flight controls.

As a Deputy I carried a piece almost exactly like this one, and at the suggestion of another Deputy, carried it in a shoulder holster.
ON OR OFF DUTY, I carried one of these concealed in an ankle holster. During my three years as a Deputy I never had to pull either weapon from its holster, but it was always comforting knowing at least I had the .380 with me, "just in case".
(Along with some other nice, [bigger] hardware, I still have both guns.)

The latest Muslim savagery in Mumbai has badly shaken and angered me. I think, as a country, we are in BIG trouble because much of our population is still acting like the ostrich with its head buried... some of us refuse to admit we are at war with fundamentalist Muslims. It's my fear the fact we are at war will be obvious to all, and soon. Let me explain:

Watching my sitemeter, I've noticed an odd thing...
I'm now into my fourth year blogging, and in that time I've published 830 posts. One of those posts continues to draw a great deal of attention... This one.
Read the comments there, and realize I reject those that are profane or indecipherable. In light of the horrors we've just seen in Mumbai, I'm now wishing I could legally strap on that shoulder and ankle holster.
Police in Mumbai couldn't respond instantly to citizen's needs, and that's true of most communities...
The "joke" I often hear is "Minutes away when seconds count." Some of the Mumbai Police refused to do their jobs and defend the citizenry. What effect might an armed and trained populace have had on those events?

I fear for my family and I'm tired of being afraid. I'm also tired of feeling naked.
I refuse to be a helpless victim. It's time to get comfortable making tight groups in silhouettes again.