Saturday, April 27, 2013

The gods must be crazy

The baboon-ravaged Bell got back into the rotation last week. Mitch took it up to the northwestern part of the Delta. Our other Bell still needs a doo-hickey or two sent from the States so I've remained in the R-44.

I had to fly it into town the other day so it could go to Jo-burg for a fuel bladder retro-fit. The bladders will decrease capacity, usable weight, and post-crash fires. Bad, bad, and good.

On the way into Maun I met one of the mobile safari companies to take three of their guests on a scenic flight. I'd been flying over some of the most productive parts of the Delta for the last few weeks and the last time I did a scenic on the southern end we saw exactly fuckall so I wasn't looking forward to the flight for anything more than logging time.

I greeted the guests and told them to hang tight while I removed the doors and attached the cameras. (On these short flights we insert clips taken of the guests via go-pro cameras into a five minute video that they get as a souvenir. At the end of the day one of us takes the videos to whichever bar attached to a camp site the guests we flew are visiting for the night, plays the video, has a beer, and maybe drums up a flight or two for the next day.) I slid the cockpit camera into its affixed mounting point and stuck the outside camera onto the fuselage with its suction cup.

The flight was great. We saw locals poling mokoros(canoes of sorts) through water and another group cutting reeds(either to re-roof their own homes or to sell). And the animals, geez. Two herds of buff, well over 200 head each, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and maybe 300 elephants. Not bad for a twenty-two minute flight. Plus two of the three were heli virgins.

I thanked them, told them to enjoy the rest of their time in Bots and went to remove the cameras/replace the doors. The camera on the suction-cup thingy wasn't where I'd left it. Fuckohshitohdear. Well one can't spend too much time wondering where that thing detached. A needle in a haystack would be a piece of cake in comparison. Just spread the hay out real thin and look for the shiny thing.

I turned to wave goodbye to the group and saw three Motswanans(yes, people from Bots are called Mots) running toward us. One wore a bright red shirt just like the reed cutter we had seen from the air. He held a go-pro camera in one hand and a suction cup bracket thingy in the other.

Something falls from a helicopter over a swamp, people are there to see it happen, they find the item, it doesn't land in water, they make it roughly two kilometers to return it before the heli flies away. No hopes of one educated in American public schools being able to figure the odds on that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monkey repellent

By the time my grandpa added the second cane, he often told me, "Not to wish your life away." I think I was pretty normal in that regard, shopping for used cars from about age 13 and a half, wishing I was in high school instead of junior high, that sort of thing.

I get it now. Not all that live in the moment new age mystic bullshit(I sat at an outdoor table having a beer with a retired-from-Silicon-Valley-when-I-was-31 blowhard in February. I told him about the idea of always creating new memories cuz that's what life is, the more you have to look back on, the better. "There's no past, no future, only now," he says. Okay, let's say you travel from San Diego for a business convention in Bangkok. Back in San Diego you have a wife and two kids. That's past. But here, now, in Bangkok you bang a hooker. You don't wear a condom cuz you can't get the clap, that's in the future. Then you go back to San Diego and two years later, you're divorced cuz you gave your wife syphilis. The surfer prophet paid his tab and left after that.) but the whole idea of enjoying what you're doing where you're doing it.

People I went to flight school with spent a lot of time talking about how they couldn't wait to get out of the Robinsons and into some 'real' helicopters. As if the little piston-powered machines don't fly or something.

I am stoked to be mostly flying a turbine machine but the R-44 is way more fun to fly than the Bell. One of the other pilots likened it to pulling a trailer, you need to plan way further ahead and mistakes are harder to recover from.

So, while I'm happy to be zipping around in the R-44 again, I really wish the baboons hadn't ripped the windscreen off my helicopter.