Here’s a post for Earth Day!
I went on an aerial inspection recently for work, and while I do love the view from up there, I can’t say it’s my most favorite pastime.
Helicopter flights lasting longer than one hour give me horrible vertigo and headaches. I’ve tried several tricks to bypass this feeling, and so far my most successful flight – successful indicating that I did not vomit – can be attributed to minty gum and a wayward bolt inside the “bucket” (helmet) that was stabbing into my skull for the duration of the flight. I was too afraid that if I adjusted, something would go wrong. As a result, I had a sore left temple for 3 days…but very little nausea.
About an hour into the flight, we landed at a place nicknamed Pig Island, where you can see herds of wild hogs scatter in every direction when the helicopter approaches. It always reminds me of a scene from a National Geographic assignment. On this particular day, strangely, we saw no hogs as we prepared to land. I removed my harness and got out, walked towards the wood line, and froze.
Staring right at me, about 20 yards away, was a 600-lb hog (my estimates tend to be grossly over-exaggerated when in the face of danger; but she was huge). I had no weapon besides a puny wooden larvae dipper (see photo below) which I think would probably snap in a strong breeze.
There is this image I have in my brain, every time I’m in the wilderness for work: a wild hog charges me, and I frantically find the nearest tree to climb. It is not a totally irrational fear, if you knew how many times I’ve seen a wild hog on foot. However, they are usually just as keen to get away from you as you are from them.
But not this hog. She was either deaf or so hungry that nothing could scare her away, not even a large, noisy aircraft with rotors spinning fast and hot exhaust shooting out its hind end.
She eventually moved (towards the helicopter, to the pilot’s amazement) but her bizarre behavior certainly left me on edge. I didn’t get any photos of the hog because I forgot my phone, but here are some aerial shots from previous missions.
I love you, Nature. Life would be so dull without you.