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blizzard warnings - 13:52 , 03 October 2013

heelerless - 21:32 , 18 August 2013

Red Coat Inn in Fort McLeod - 11:38 , 23 June 2013

rushing into the waters - 09:53 , 21 June 2013

choosing a spot - 17:43 , 27 April 2013

2001-05-17 - 5:41 p.m.

flight preparations

I have a book by Robert Fulghum titled "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." It was a gift, and I don't think I read it all, just picked through the pages.

But for most of the past two days, that title describes my job. I have been cutting paper, taping pieces of paper together, and marking on the paper with different colored pens. It's tough work, but somebody has to do it.

I'm getting ready to fly some tri-annual antelope counts (and no, Badsnake, we don't use helicopters. Too expensive. We do fly in helicopters for winter mule deer and elk surveys, but we keep the doors on. It's frickin' cold out there when we fly! Even without the windchill.. Only flew without doors once, when trying to tranquilize deer. It was fun leaning out the door with a gun like Special Forces).

So I need maps to record the counts on. And naturally, both of the herds due for counts this year each fall on four separate maps. So i have been neatly cutting, trimming and taping maps together to make one map for each area. And taking a pen and marking the boundaries, fences (miles and miles of fences), strutting grounds, anything that will help locate where the antelope are. (Yes, we have GPS in the plane, but that tells you where you are, not the antelope. Hence the maps.) Highly paid for kindergarten work.

And a little after sunrise tomorrow, we should start putting numbers on the maps. Assuming no cancelations due to weather (need clear, sunny skies to see these things from 300') or lack of pilot. We were scheduled to fly this am, but that got canceled because the second pilot quit. Just because one of the engines on the twin-engine he was flying Monday blew a camshaft on takeoff and rather violently put him into an emergency landing.

Hey, at least he had a second engine. The planes we use don't.

Just some morbid thoughts while I'm here. During my undergraduate years, my advisor went to his tenth class reunion for his college and came back rather shaken. Over half his graduating class of wildlifers were already dead. Two-thirds of those lost had died in small engine aircraft accidents.

A friend of mine got her Master's research project because the gal before her died in a crash on one of her aerial surveys. She said it was weird listening to and transcribing her predecessor's field tapes.

Flight safety and aircraft maintenance has come a long way since then.

But tomorrow I will have to be selective in what I wear. It has to be all cotton, no synthetics. Just because the synthetics are so flammable upon impact.


And I have to get my emergency survival pack ready tonight.

Nothing is going to happen tomorrow, except I may get airsick. But, as you can tell, the preparations make you think.

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