Sunday, April 17, 2016

I'll meet you in the desert

I gaze at the reason I traveled all the way to New Mexico, enduring multi-hour travel delays and cancelled flights.  We will only have two hours together, and I'm uncertain.  So far, though, I like what I see.  Dark, sleek, and obviously capable, the object of my attention waits patiently in the desert sun.  In a few months we will spend hours together.


Our new helicopter has just come on contract and I'm here to see it.  It will work here until July and then fly off to us.  We are unsure: we have had the same type of aircraft for many years, and this one is different.  We are used to where we put our stuff, where we all sit.  We have had the same pilot for about nine years.  But ready or not, it's time for a change.

The New Mexico crew, wearing fire clothes, optimistically swarms the helicopter with their gear, although rain is forecast.  The company representatives hand out business cards.  I gaze at the helicopter again before I leave to go back to the mountains.

It's a strange relationship we have.  We have to trust each other, the crew, the pilot, and the machine, although we have never met.  Soon we will know each other well.  There will be early mornings and late nights, the smell of smoke and the sight of flames in the trees.  Soon we will feel like we have always known each other.


6 comments:

  1. The start of a new relationship is exciting but a bit scary, especially with the comfort level of nine years past. With all you know and all you have done, your beginning with the new ship and pilot will work out well, I'm sure. Tell us about your desert time....so different than NW Montana....did you have time to explore?

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    1. Oh, I know it will be fine. I've worked with so many pilots and helicopters. The crewmembers are apprehensive though. I did get to go for a trail run at 6500 feet.

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  2. Just remember change is scary but can lead to amazing things! :-)

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    1. That's true MF! You're proof of it.

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  3. Hehe, when I was on my detail down there I overheard some of the conversations between the HOS and the helitack crew when the award was made... not happy campers for sure. Before I left there was talk of the vendor substituting in a different 407, one with the Eagle upgrade (which sounds pretty amazing in terms of performance)... do you know if that happened? I worked with a 407 for a few years in Idaho, and while I prefer the AS350 models, the 407 does have some nice features, and performance isn't too shabby if you get one with the new charts.

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    1. They substituted one but I'm pretty sure it has the same performance. It will be ok, we will just need to have the districts download their gear some. I had a 407 on contract for a few years. The main thing I'll miss is the quicker cooldown.

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