Monday, September 7, 2009

Los Angeles Fire, Helicopters, September 4, 2009

Helicopters at the reservoir loading up on water and fire retardant.

In the afternoon we went to the reservoir to watch the helicopters. There were two types of helicopters, red ones and orange ones. Our understanding was that there was a total of four but we didn't know how to tell them apart except for the color. The entire time we were watching, they never stopped or took a break. It must have been both exhilarating and exciting for the pilots and as exhausting as well.

What was really amazing was how they maneuvered these huge contraptions so gracefully. It was like watching ballet. I am not sure exactly why, but this process was completely mesmerizing. Pilot skills are really commendable. They would get their hoses into the red rings without missing each time. One of the red rings supplied water, and the other had fire retardant mixed in and was red.

Apparently, once the helicopter is full of water, the blades get a steeper angle because the load is heavier. Once this phenomena was pointed out you could see the difference but it was subtle.

Our vantage point proved popular. And we were quickly joined by other residents including this little girl, her mom and grandmother. She told me to be cautious of the deer flies if I went out hiking and that the deer flies like your elbows. The grandmother theorized it was because deer had bony legs, they liked similar bony parts on humans.

When the helicopters departed, you could see a little spray drop out of the hoses. This was very "cool" and interesting to me each time it happened. If it wasn't so impossibly hot and humid, I could have watched all day. The orange helicopter on top had just loaded up with fire retardant. You can see the faint red over spray if you look closely. Sadly, I had a really cool video but lost if accidentally when I transferred everything online. Next time, bringing the Flip.

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