Life, Near Death, and Other "Feats of Strength"
| dnd at Crawfordslist read the post below, and told me about his adventures setting transmission lines and towers on a helicopter crew. He spoke of loading injured people on an Alouette III. |
[dnd I have a picture of an Alouette III somewhere, I'll post it here if I can find it.]
His story jogged my memory, I loaded some hurt people myself while the pilot did some amazing flying, and I saw some amazing flying even when nobody was hurt.
[Image taken in the Fishlake National Forest Utah. We have just finished loading the drills on on two semi "floats" ie: flatbeds. I am thrilled I wasn't crushed. This was the most dangerous part of a very dangerous job]
I took a lot of Squirrels to the field, I can only remember the names of a few, but one I will always remember. His name was Harlin King, and I only spent about 4 hours with him one morning in the Flat Tops of western Colorado. O.B. Oberlander, and I were having some dispute. We were both drunks and room mates so I'm sure the reason was pretty important whatever it was. But Harlin King picked up the tab for it that morning. The H.P. II Helidrill was an amazing piece of machinery, we could set them in some truly mind blowing spots, but there still many places they couldn't be placed.
It was the field co-ordinator's job to run the line and pick the set-ups as we moved a long, leap frogging from the back of the line to the front. My first move that morning O.B. set me up on a 35 degree rock slide made up of rocks the size of your head, a real chicken shit stunt. The only good thing about that morning was "Charlie Blaze" was flying the Lama. As we arrived at this location, Charlie brought us the fuel barrel, so we could get the last of the gas out, and he could take it to the L.Z. to be refilled. This thing was 150 gallon Eaton drum with a manual pump screwed into the side, and some bullshit little angles welded on the bottom for "Feet". The pump was the Old Timey kind where you pump the handle up and down. These drums were touchy, everything that has a round shape is touchy on a mountain, their long axis had to be pointed down the fall line of the mountain, or they would want roll off the thing.
We landed the fuel drum and I was busy chewing out O.B. on the radio about his stunt, as Harlin set about pumping our gas into our jeep cans.
To keep the geologists happy in Denver, we could off set these shot holes at right angles to the line, so I set off up the mountain to see if what looked like a "flat spot" could be had. I told Harlin that Charlie would be coming for the empty barrel soon, and when he set his hook down he wanted the drum. Pretty soon, I was on an out crop above our location so that I was just about even with the Helicopter. Sure enough, here comes Charlie to get the drum, and as I watched him hover nothing seem a miss. But as he pulled off, and away to where I could hear, over the radio came : "Robert how bad did your helper get hurt?"
I was on my way back down the mountain before he was finished keying his mic. As I came out of some trees, there was Harlin standing by the support basket. I was greatly relieved to see him on his feet, but as I got closer he looked just like some character in a Warner Brothers Cartoon, you know, they get hit in the head and Saturn and Jupiter are rotating their head with tweety birds. That is what Harlin had going on, and he kept saying "I'm O.K., I'm O.K.". His hair was hanging down across his forehead, and I could see a small drop of blood on his eye brow. I said, "Sure your are just let me have a look", as I raised his hair. There on his forehead, was cut in the shape of that pump handle's side bracket. The barrel had shifted when Charlie picked-up on it and it spun and smacked Harlin right in the noggin. By this time I could hear Charlie coming back, and he told me to take Harlin up to the spot where I had been when this whole sorry deal happened.
When we finally got up to the out crop, Charlie came in and set the tip of his left skid on a rock and I loaded Harlin in the front seat. On three sides of this rock it was 100 ft. straight down to more rocks. Charlie flew him into Meeker, and I never saw Harlin King again.
O.B. lost his coordinator's job for setting us in that rock side.
A Bell 204 or 205 landing in the Fishlake to pick-up some Squirrels. Note the pinhead on the left standing up. He's betting that the helicopter won't sink in the snow when the pilot cuts the power, and the full weight of the ship rests on the snow. He won that bet, but if he had lost this picture would be called "Pink Mist".
Here's another drilling story if you're interested, scroll down it's the second part.
I spent My Whole Life in the 20th Century