The 3rd UNRally will be happening this June in the Alvord desert dry lake bed, ( S. E. corner of Oregon.) I have been to the Alvord desert 2 years ago and it was a interesting place to visit and ride, but have not been to this rally. I am planning on going and it would be cool to ride with some of you guys and TWs. I will put a link below to the page for the UnRally.
Yeah it does sort of sound like burning Man. Except all forms of motorized vehicles are encouraged. When we went by ourselves two years ago I just took a small Honda ct110, so I'm looking forward to riding a bit more on the TW. Plus the night sky out on the dry lake bed can be awesome. DSCF2964-1680.jpg
A guy & his dog sharing the solitude with a billion stars....that is the way I envision the Alvord.
Great Photo Bladesmith!
Interesting but empty country out there. I went down in a Jet Ranger about 30 miles west of there once when my uranium detection gear's radar altimeter shorted out the entire bird. Flame out, autorotation and a sudden appreciation for life safely back on the ground. Many a herd of mustangs and antelope, but definitely no people. Be nice to return, but maybe not with a hundred others.
Now that you got my interest piqued, I need to know the rest of the story? What brought you to be flying around out there and how long ago?
And thanks on the photo.
Sounds like a good story! You have done a few things besides turtle wrangling, I guess. The radar altimeter shorted everything? That's pretty unusual.....kinda like the time my f***d *p radio installation shorted the coil on my motor-glider and reduced my power by 2/3....at 8,000 feet on take-off from Aspen! Thanks to the glide ratio of the PIK 20E I was able to make a 180 and land.....barely.
Yeah, the Alvord is spectacular....as long as it doesn't get windy!
Last edited by RockyTFS; Yesterday at 09:19 PM.
2014 BMW R1200GS LC
I was just a teenage summer intern working for a Pathfinder Mines, a uranium exploration outfit. Low man on the totem pole, I was to manage strip chart recording gear in the back as we "mowed the lawn" flying grids back and forth chasing down reported radiation anomalies from the Bureau of Mines NURE program. Low level, we scarred many a herd of antelope and mustang, whose brood mares or stallions would give us the evil eye before fleeing. Just after the Vietnam War our pilot, a former warrant officer, really enjoyed the nap of the earth flying we were doing...lots more fun than sedate flying of real estate types around at altitude, plus no one was shooting at him. Pilot had to keep as constant an 200 ft elevation above ground as possible so I could more readily do the math later reducing recorded radiation levels a to a common baseline so there was some interesting yanking and banking terrain following flight profiles. To feed a recording altimeter signal to my gear a through a hull opening apparently it, or the instrument stack necessitated the removal of the Emergency Locator Beacon...this would play a factor later on.
I was just an 18 year old kid, didn't do the install, and the assumed cause was related to me well after the fact. But it was explained that when the pilot, who was enjoying letting it hang out a bit shot through just clearing a very small tight gap on a ridge line the bonzer zeroed out too fast sending a spurious signal into my stack causing some sort of cascading electrical failure that discharged, or took off-line, the on board batteries. This was a jury rig of successive adaptations from laboratory to fixed wing aircraft to probe truck to laboratory 110v again and finally back to 24V DC for the helicopter so there was a daisy chain of transformers and inverters and who know what else to feed the various strip charts for possible uranium, thorium, potassium and of course my altitude above ground channel. Pre-digital, this was all thermal paper strip chart recordings.
Anyways we shot through the gap and immediately there are too many attention getting "BONG,BONG,BONGs" as circuit breakers start popping out of the over head. Over the IC I'm told to punch them back in but then things suddenly get very quite, no turbine whine anymore, pilot quickly takes had off collective & stabs at the fuel gauge which is unwinding fast (he has target fixation thinking he has just had a ground strike but I can see all the other steam gauge needles are also heading for zero). Pilot has been shot down before so muscle memory takes over, nose down to keep the flattened rotor disc spinning he chases the slope down and before you can say "Bobs your Uncle" he's pulling pitch at the base and we slide 3 feet to a near perfect autorotation. Adrenalin moment for sure, we un-ass the bird before rotors have fully stopped. Judgement inexplicably goes bad then and pilot gets a piece of sagebrush , opens fuel door and sticks in in as a dipstick and drops it! He somehow thought he had punctured the tank shooting through a narrow gap. I seem to be only one not panicky at his point, geologist from front seat is puking his guts, pilot is starting to come off adrenal high but and can't get his dropped stick. So I put arm into tank and fish around in the Jet A and pull out his sagebrush. ( This is but one of several memories of stressful times explaining why I really don't like kerosene or jet fuels).
Time to assess the situation...helicopter is totally dead electrically, we are relatively remote for being in the lower 48, summer heat is building, our fuel truck is 80 plus miles north, haven't seen another human all morning in many hundreds of square miles, no survival gear, provisions, tools, water, etc. No ELB to call for help but as we were going down I did see what seemed like a truck on a dirt track off in the distance, first made made thing in quite a while. My companions are not confidence inspiring. After puking the geologist drinks a third of the one and only pint of water we had and announces he is walking about 40 miles south to nearest road out of Denio, NV to get help. Realistic help all lies to the north. out of Burns, Oregon. Now I am just a wet behind the ears kid but I just know I have to dissuade him from taking off or he will either be delirious from heat stroke within 20 miles, or take three days to reach the road if he travels smart. Pilot joins me and we convince geologist to wait in shade under the bird while pilot & I hike to dirt track. Turns out it is a shiny brand new BLM Peterbuilt semi with a dump bed towing a low-boy trailer. Just parked, no operator, no recent tracks, no clue as to why it is there in middle of nowhere at all. Friday afternoon so we couldn't expect anyone anytime soon but at least we could survive out of the sun in shade under the truck. Somebody should be by eventually, fuel truck would report us missing so we had likely less than a day to dehydrate
This is where the story borders on the unbelievable. With nothing better to do than try to rub the Jet A off my arm I go investigating the truck. I made a pair of pliers using sagebrush branches and my shoe laces and open the battery box. Yep, four big 6volt batteries. Just maybe these could power the helicopter's radio somehow? Being new somehow all the fasteners yielded to my impromptu pliers. Pilot hiked one battery back to return with geologist any any tools while I continued on. Tool inventory consisted of one fingernail clipper and a pen knife...we were totally unprepared, babes-in-the-woods but the gods decided to take pity upon us that day. Plus I was determined not to just passively wait. Long story short using nail clippers I stole enough wiring to make jumper cables & we packed everything the 3/4 mile or so back to helicopter.
Oddly enough days before that Jet Ranger had had another electrical failure when it landed at our office to give the boss a complementary dog-and-pony show flight. Rank has it's privileges, right? There I had seen where mechanics popped a hatch in the nose to access a power port so I knew where to feed in power to our crippled bird out in the bush. No polarity indications through. After disconnecting my radiation gear as much as possible, and talking with pilot we decided it might be worth the risk to try to fire up turbine and re-power the whole system rather than just try to call for help. Think we all getting seduced by idea of a cold beer before the sun set. So with a 50/50 chance of getting it right I held poor chopped up Peterrbuilt's cables to jury rigged 24v battery array and the helicopter's power port terminals. I must have lived a pure life until then for I had guessed right, starter engaged turbine and bird seemed to pass a system's check while everything spun up and pilot radioed out to any aircraft or CAP looking for us. No joy so we decided to risk flying out. Perhaps I was idealistically responsible but I insisted we could not just fly away and potentially leave the truck's operator stranded out there as we just were. So I convinced pilot to fly batteries and wiring back to the dump truck and once back in civilization to call BLM and leave a cryptic explanatory message. BLM may still be looking for us but statutes of limitations is over, guess I can confess now.
Anyways that was my introduction to helicopters , was only my second day aloft. Geologist didn't want to fly anymore. I was giddy from the experience. Bonded further with pilot over underage beers for me that night. We flew back to Spokane together next day almost entirely in ground effect in barren eastern Oregon, tip of rotor arc only feet above the high desert, lifting occasionally to clear fencelines and the like. Awesomely fast and thrilling so close to the deck, a good 10-15 knots faster than at altitude. Definitely not FAA approved, but f---k it, we were reveling in being alive after having self-rescued ourselves the day before. So exciting, I knew I could get hooked on that nape of the earth flying until likely getting wadded up into a fiery ball someday. Fun? Extremely, but definitely dangerous.
Just a good memory and campfire story now decades later.
Last edited by Fred; Today at 02:08 PM.
WOW, a great story and a good read as I take a needed break in my shop from forging. Thanks for taking the time doling it all out I'm sure I will not be the only ones that will enjoy it.
So it is it time to head back to the scene of the crime and visit the area of such memories?