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Showing posts from August, 2018

Visiting the Mendocino Complex fire - a trip to an old research site.

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The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest fire ever to have occurred in California, consisting of two fires, the River Fire and the Ranch Fire. As I write this, the River Fire covers 48,920 acres, and is 100% contained. The larger Ranch Fire covers 366,086 acres, and containment is listed as 67%. It is already listed as the largest recorded fire complex in California history.




I spent the years 1986-1991 working at the Hopland Field Station, a University of California research station (and now called the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center).  We lived and worked on the station for 4 years, then moved about 8 miles north.  The River Fire actually started across the Russian River near Russian River Estates, a stone's throw from where we used to live.  








On our way to Mendocino County, we drove through Yosemite National Park.  Yosemite Valley was still closed because of fires, but it reopened soon after we passed through.



At the Hopland Field Station, we wanted to see the 3000 …

When you think a wheel has fallen off your aircraft...

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Eons ago, I took enough private pilot lessons to solo.  Today, there was a note in our local newspaper regarding a student pilot (flying one of USU's fleet of Diamond Star 40 aircraft) reporting an "Alert 2" issue (indicating that an aircraft is having major difficulties, and a difficult or crash landing may be expected).


Wesley went through his private pilot training with this program and this aircraft. I'm glad students are trained to react accordingly when there is a potential emergency.




The Alert 2 article reminded me of my own experience with an "indicates that an aircraft is having major difficulties" event.  And I have no memory of thinking or even knowing about this alert system.  I was just going to broadcast a "Has my wheel fallen off?" message to anyone who had a radio and a pair of binoculars.
Let me explain.
I had always been interested in learning to fly, but the process took too long, was too expensive, and I didn't have the time.  …