Backward Rain

  October 18, 2004


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Monday October 18, 2004


The helicopter finally came on Saturday and carried our water tank to its final resting spot. This was a project that had been a year in the making and finally came off, with a few hitches.

The copter showed up at 8 AM and seven of our neighbors walked up our hill to assist with the effort. The company (Blackhawk Helicopter) provided the pilot, a spotter and a crew member to attach the harness to our tank. We were given a half hour lecture on safety procedures and a short rehearsal. It’s not something that you do everyday and the crew wanted us to know what to expect. We were required to wear hard hats, goggles, face masks, ear plugs and gloves. We were warned that standing under a helicopter is scary and you experience 80 MPH winds, lots of dust and too much noise to hear. I guess he wanted to give us an opportunity to decline when he commented about all the macho guys who can’t handle being under one of these things. (His way of saying, “Don’t be embarrassed if you panic and run away.)

The first job, and first problem, was getting the gravel dumped. It weighed over a thousand pounds and was lifted in a sack that developed a tear in the bottom after it was picked up. We had to stand under the thing while, from a high altitude, ¾” gravel rained on our heads. The gravel pelted us with enough force to take chips out of our hard hats.

When the copter finally got the bag close, the prop-wash started it swinging and it ripped out the steel ring that was supposed to contain the gravel. A thousand pound piñata gone wild. The pilot finally gave up and set the bag down outside the ring and we had to shovel the gravel in by hand. We had just enough time to level the gravel while the copter went back to pick up the tank.

The tank drop went similarly. The wind from the prop started the tank swinging and it took over ten minutes to get it centered over the gravel. During that time the tank was swinging every which way, bashing into boulders and trees. When the pilot would finally get it close to the ring, five people on the ground would try to align it, only to have it catch in the wind and swing out of reach.

Eventually the job got done though the tank suffered dents and scratches. Hopefully nothing too serious though we won’t know for sure till I run a pipe up the hill and fill it with water.

For now, we owe a huge debt to our neighbors. The job turned out to be more dangerous than anyone expected and we’re lucky that no one was hurt.

Cath & Don Dardy celebrating their survival

Thanks to Ann Bottari for taking these photos while I was pre-occupied

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