Friday, February 19, 2010

TODAY I HAD TO RUN VERY FAST & VERY FAR…..TO HELP SOMEONE

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:)))))))

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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.

BLOGGER WEBSITE http://thebayfieldbunch.com/

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The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...... AL

17 comments:

  1. I am impressed at your running ability, and glad you came through it ok. You must have a really good heart, in the physical sense.

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  2. Well that was exciting!! I love excitement! Having over 300 Skydives and being a private pilot, I understand how the "surface" winds can come up while your aloft and surprise you.

    Why didn't you carry your camera with you while you were running over to help,,,heck the guys on "Cops" do it all the time!!!
    Good story Al!

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  3. Good Job Al, that fellow was really lucky you and those other folks were in the area when he had his mishap,I wonder if they were camping nearby.But anyway you guys saved the day. I am like you porbably,retired and out of shape, and I would have needed a snooze too. Sometimes God just puts us in the right place at the right time to help our nfellow man. Be safe and have fun. Sam&Donna.

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  4. Wow, Al, you're the man! And most of it is recorded for history. You had us on the edges of our seats with this story. If we ever need help, we hope you are close by!

    One question, though. If I read your opening statement correctly, all this happened Saturday. I know California and Arizona are in different time zones, but that usually means one hour. Is there a one-day tiome zone also? It's only 6:15 am on Saturday in Arizona right now.

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  5. Al, I'm a little confused. It is now Saturday morning when I am reading this. Did this happen last week, or have you lost track of what day of the week it is? ;)

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  6. Wow, what a gripping story! Well done, Al, and well written! Our hero Mr. Crankypants (that would look good on a cape).

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  7. Great blog Al! I just love the way you put together the words to describe your rescue of the man and his ultra lite glider. Your description of your running to his aid just tore me up.

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  8. Whooowheeeeee what an ordeal! I think I was huffing and puffing right along side of you while reading that! Sooo glad you were able to help that guy out and safely stow that chute away. WOW!

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  9. As I was reading this great story Al, I thought for sure that car racing across the desert would be there to pick you up and rush you to the hospital for oxygen and a few other treatments! Guys our age shouldn't be running full tilt, you know. Glad to see everything ended well. Sure would have liked to hear what the wife had to say to this guy after you left, though!!

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  10. As said in "Snoopy" You are a good man, Charlie Brown.

    Rojo

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  11. Boy..that man is lucky to have survived that incident. My profession was fighting wildland fires in California and we had to deal with these winds known as sundowners. As in this case these winds arrive instantly and the result was never good.

    Good job Al and when someone needs help its time to throw vanity out the window.

    John Rosasco

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  12. OK people, let up on Al. (lol) It's just a blessing he could run. After that run he probably thought it was Saturday or maybe it would be Saturday before he could move again.

    Al is a hero. Just think of the times there have been pictures of something happening but the photographer didn't help...just kept taking pictures while someone was seriously injured or worse. News photographers! Baa. Amateur photographers...GOOD!!

    I bet you end up with another follower after that, Al.

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  13. Great photos and story. I bet today you might be wishing you had stayed in the exercise and yoga classes :)

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  14. I enjoyed your story and photos in Quartzite area. My wife RV part time and are spending the winter in Florida workamping.
    I retired from City Bus Driving for 28 years and also did the project mobility vans.
    If you run into a guy on a motorized bike with Red Hair in or around Quartzite he is my brother tell him I said Hello.. Thanks

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  15. That was a great story, wow what an adventure! Some action in the desert!
    This pilot was so lucky to have you guys watching him.
    700mm lens - that is impressive!

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  16. Hey Al,

    I saw the beginning of that episode.

    I saw him take off and he waved as he flew by us, but he turned around before getting to the lake bed which was about 1/4 mile north of us.

    I saw his missed approach but I couldn't see what happened on the landing because he went behind a rise. You guys were a little over a mile south-west of us.

    Good work!

    Pat

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  17. Love your posts Al. Keep 'em coming (and don't forget to take off the superman cape before you go to bed)!
    Missy, the wanna-bee

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