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August 24, 2006

Every Day in a Helicopter is a Good Day

So said my friend Chris. And, I figure it’s mostly true, for most of us.

Thursday and Friday, Kevan and I did helicopter work. After we’d finished the last site on Friday, I said shoot, I need to pretend like I’m still working so you can get a picture of me. Aw, there’ll be other sites, he said. But not helicopter sites, I said. You can put your flight suit on at another site for a photo, he said. Mmmm, not. So I don’t have any shots of me in the flight suit.

Here’s Kevan, though:

[Finishing up the site.]

[Calling Asta on the satellite phone to confirm that she can "see" the site via her computer.]

[Our ride.]

One of the sites was a relocation of an older site that got overrun by lava. (The equipment had been pulled out before getting toasted.)

[Old antenna mast.]

[Newer site overview.]

[New life.]

The helicopter picked us up and dropped us off at a site (just a clearing) on the Escape Road, a limited access road in the park. The site happens to be amidst "lava trees".

These towers are created when a lava flow is thick in a region of trees, which burn where the lava contacts them. The flow then drains out, lowering the crust of the flow and leaving the lava which had cooled around the trees as towers.

And, I almost forgot. The absolute coolest thing about doing the helicopter sites was the fly-over of Pu’u O’o, the active eruptive vent. Thanks, pilot David, for doing it, and thanks Kevan for asking for it.

[Pu’u O’o from the ground, view from one of the GPS sites.]

[Flying over.]

[That lava was *splashing* in the vent.]

This is up there with one of the coolest things I've seen.

Posted by beth at August 24, 2006 8:41 PM

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