A LONG TELEPHOTO SHOT OF A MAN SOON TO BE IN NEED OF HELP
Friday afternoon’s strong winds continued into the night but we woke up to quiet air & slightly overcast skies Saturday morning. Temperatures had cooled off & it was a nice walking morning as we headed up another path on Coyote Mountain right beside us. Compared to the surrounding mountains it’s hard to call this a mountain. The Hidden Hills next us in the Kofa Refuge in Arizona were twice the height of Coyote Mountain but were only called hills. Nevertheless there are some steep rock scrambles & lots of paths. Max, Checkers, & little Cora (Motormouse) stuck right with us as we climbed a narrow path through a tiny canyon. Thanks to the folks at Peg Leg for marking these trails with rock markers or we would have easily lost the path. Max was getting tired so Kelly headed back down with the guys while I continued up to the top for a look around. What a great area this is & most of the hiking is easy to moderate.
THIS MORNINGS HIKE ON COYOTE MOUNTAIN
I didn’t have our satellite situated quite right so the wind easily moved the dish off station last night. Repositioned the dish in a sheltered area beside the coach this morning & had us back on line again. In the meantime Kelly headed into Borrego Springs for the farmer’s market on Christmas Circle. They have that every Saturday morning & it’s where we bought our dog beds last year. Turns out it was a good thing I stayed at the rig working on the satellite dish relocation.
KELLY IS IN 2 OF THE LAST 4 PHOTOS…..AN NO, WE DID NOT BUILD THE INUKSHUK IN THE TOP PHOTO, BUT I BET A CANADIAN FROM PEG LEG DID:)) (click pics to enlarge)
I heard a small engine start up so knew one of the ultra lite glider fellows was planning on a flight. They run the engine up for a minute or two while checking things over. A pre-flight inspection. Set up my binoculars on one tripod & my 700mm telescope/camera lens on the other one for maybe a few more glider photos. The fellow readying his kite was an older man because I could see through the binoculars that he moved slower as he walked around his machine laying out the big chute behind. I was in the rig at the computer when I heard the engine rev so looked out the window as he lifted into the sky. The chute dipped far to the left & he backed off the engine. The chute swung over to the right as he added power & he was up, up, & away heading off down the canyon on a beautiful quiet Friday morning.
THE COYOTE MOUNTAINS WITH IT’S MANY TRAILS
I was sitting at the computer about 20 minutes later when a huge gust of wind rocked the rig. Winds in the southwest can appear without warning funneling down mountain canyons with sudden furiousity & that is exactly what happened this morning. The winds of the west were upon us & soon the dust was picking up & two lawn chairs blew over. I was just beginning to head outside to take my tripod setups down when I heard the faint drone of a small engine. I looked to the north & there coming up the valley was the ultra lite glider pilot laboring against the wind. I knew right away he was probably in big trouble.
THE GLIDER PILOT TAKES OFF INTO QUIET SKIES THIS MORNING
Stepped up to my camera & peered at him through the long lens as he struggled through the wind gusts making a right banking turn to get himself on the ground near his rig as quick as possible. He was about a quarter of a mile away from me. I could here him throttling the engine, first with power up, & then with power down, as the buffeting winds hung him in the air. He couldn’t get the machine on the ground as the wind in his large overhead chute fought against the machines engine & large 3 bladed propeller. The flyer wisely abandoned his landing & veered with the wind in a sweeping turn to the north over top his rig. He was carried in the wind gusts about a hundred feet off the desert floor for about half a mile before he swung his machine to the right in a wide turn bringing his nose back into the wind again for a second landing approach.
ABOVE IS THE FLYERS FIRST ATTEMPED LANDING
I didn’t think he was going to make it & I think he knew for sure he wasn’t going to make it back to his rig. The wind gusts were not letting up when I saw him rapidly loosing altitude. It was probably at this point he made his second wise decision. Get on the ground…..fast!! And that’s just what he did as he came down onto the desert floor about a thousand yards northeast of his rig. The chute hung in the air for about 5 seconds before finally spilling it’s air & dropping to the ground. It was at this point I noticed his wife had come out of the motorhome & was watching this whole drama unfold. I was still taking pictures at this point.
AN ANXIOUS & WORRIED WIFE LOOKS ON HELPLESSLY
I watched through the camera lens as everything appeared under control. The man remained seated in his machine for well over a minute & I figured he was probably pretty shaken up & just thanking his lucky stars he was still alive. His movements were slow as he climbed out of the kite. Saw him wave to his wife in the distance & then he set about getting himself organized. It wasn’t until I looked at my pictures later in the day that I realized what had actually happened next.
SECOND ATTEMPTED LANDING & HE GET’S IT ON THE GROUND
I could see him at the right side of the machine for a few minutes & then suddenly I noticed one corner of the dormant chute flip up as a bit of wind caught it. The pictures later told me he was trying to gather up & pack away the large chute at this point. As he pulled the lines in, another gust of wind billowed up part of the chute which in turn caught more air. Things happened very quickly then as more air grabbed & lifted more of the chute & before I knew it the chute lifted the whole machine up turning it over & knocking the man to the ground.
CHUTE IS FLAT ON THE GROUND AS THE PILOT TAKES A MINUTE BEFORE CLIMBING OUT OF HIS KITE
The photo I took about a second before that happened was the last photo I took as I started on a dead run across the desert to help this man. I ran fast for a 65 year old guy but it was nothing like a speeding bullet. More like a runaway bowl of wiggly jello blubbering across the desert landscape. Must be quite a sight I thought as I stumbled along. I saw the man pull the kite back over on it’s wheels but the wind caught the chute again knocking the pilot to the ground for a second time. Far off to my left I saw the man’s wife hopelessly watching. She was too far away. I was puffing like a race horse & wanted to stop but the man was still struggling with the wind filled chute so I just kept running. The thought occurred to me that I had not run this fast or this far for probably over 40 years.
WINDS ARE STILL GUSTING AS HE CONTEMPLATES HIS NEXT MOVE
I was about two thirds of the way there when I saw a man coming fast from the left on a bicycle & a car approaching from the right across the desert scrub. I slowed down because I could see these people would be there before me. I was sooooooo glad to see those two people coming to help. The man jumped off the bike & pounced on one end of the chute as the lady who arrived in the car grappled with the other end. I was there about 30 seconds later & flopped my 200 pounds plus right onto the middle section of the chute.
THIS IS THE PHOTO THAT GAVE ME A CLUE AS TO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
The wind fought all 4 of us for control of that large expanse of nylon. Three of us on the chute itself with the pilot struggling with the lines. There was about 30 seconds there where it looked like the wind was going to have it’s way with all of us but then someone shouted “move to the left.” That seemed to cut down on the wind’s angle a bit & the tide was turned. The pilot man managed to get his lines organized & secured as my hat blew off for the first time. The lady to my right grabbed it. The fellow to my left began rolling the chute in towards me & we bunched it together & both moved slowly towards the woman. My hat blew off again & this time the pilot himself retrieved it as he was securing the second set of two lines.
THE WIND IS TAKING HOLD OF THE CHUTE
With 3 of us holding the now bunched up chute on the ground & my hat threatening to knock the stuffings out of the wind if it came back again the pilot was able to get a large black bag in place & we all began stuffing the troublesome parachute in the bag. It knew it was beat & never even put up a struggle. The wind was actually strong enough to start pushing the cart but we were able to help the fellow get it turned around & pointed in the direction of his rig. At last, things were under control.
I THINK AT THIS POINT HE REALIZES HIS DAY IS NOT OVER JUST YET!!!!
The bicycle man & the lady car driver departed in their respected vehicles & I helped the older pilot man push his kite across the desert floor to where his anxious wife was waiting. We aligned the kite with the ramp leading into his trailer & with a final push we had it safely & securely inside it’s trailer.
THE CHUTE FILLS WITH AIR & BEGINS TO RISE
With a firm handshake, a big smile, a sincere ‘thank you’ & a hearty ‘high ho Silver I was off across the desert floor on my trek back to the rig where I could hear anxious dogs parking. Max was pretty upset by the time I got there because he had never seen his Dad run before & was confused about what was happening. All the time we were dealing with the chute in the wind & could here Max a quarter mile back barking & barking & barking.
THIS WAS THE LAST PHOTO I TOOK AS THE WIND IN THE CHUTE OVERTURNED THE CART KNOCKING THE MAN TO THE GROUND….. SECONDS LATER I WAS HEADING ACROSS THE DESERT AT FULL GALLUP
The rest of the day was very quiet as we abandoned our plans for another hike up Coyote mountain. Just way to windy & besides I was needing myself a real good snooze in my chair. About mid afternoon I glanced out the door & saw that the kite pilot’s motorhome was gone. They may just have had enough for one day & were maybe heading home. The thought also occurred to me that he may have sustained some injuries when the wind blown machine knocked him to the ground. He hadn’t spoke at all when we pushed the machine back so he may have been pretty shaken up too. Never thought to ask the man his name or look at his license plate to see where he was from. But, I did remember to do one thing though……………..I gave him a ‘Bayfield Bunch’ card:)))))))
LAST NIGHT’S QUARTER MOON LAST NIGHT’S BATMAN MOON
GROANER’S CORNER:(( Some people's noses and feet are built backwards: Their feet smell and their noses run.
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The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...... AL