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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Survival Lessons Part 2 (Part 1 was 4/23/10 Titled: Let Somebody Know EXACTLY Where you are) ?)

First, its been a while since my last post. Among other things happening in my life were a crown coming off and discovering that I will have to have a bridge or something put in (Still looking at the options) and thee accidental erasure of my primary hard drive will all my photos on it. Fortunately I had a back up and only lost a few days of shooting. Unfortunately, one of my projects of shooting the Raleigh skyline against a sunset were lost and I will have to wait about six months f the skyline and the sunset to line up again and then I have to align my work schedule and the sunset colors and weather. FREQUENT BACKUPS!

On to today's post, There never was intended to be a part 2 or a series (although it looks like that is a strong possibility). This is a follow-on to the post April 23, 2010 (just a little over a year ago, must be something about spring) where I discussed always letting somebody know exactly where you are so if you need help, they can find you.

BTW - Bottom Line and Lessons Learned at at the bottom of this post.

This one focuses on always being prepared to survive unexpected conditions and being able to get out. Nobody gets up in the morning thinking, today I will wade through thick briers in the woods and will get lost. Getting lost happens unexpectedly. So what happened?

A plane went down outside Red Oak NC June 23, 2011. My wife ( a valuable source of seeing good shots and recommending I go out even when family is coming in for dinner (she actually did this!)) suggested I go out and get some shots. I couldn't at that moment (about noon) but I did get out later about 4M. I drove out to Red Oak and located to emergency responders and television news personnel near the scene. (~ 4:15?) The State Trooper said I could go in and get some photos, just go down the dirt road to where everybody had beaten a path through the woods to get to the plane. I walked down the road and he honked his horn and motioned to me that I had walked past the path. DID I THINK, "Gee this path is hard to see, do I REALLY want to do this?" Nope. I walked back and saw the path and followed it down to the crash site.

I got there and got my photos. No other media got back in there. The Raleigh television WRAL had helicopter shots from overhead. I had chatted with their truck crew before entering the woods. I was about to find out why. OH, Did I mention I was wearing jean, a SHORT SLEEVE SHIRT, and no insect repellent? I had envisioned that the plane went down in a corn field or a tobacco field. No it went down in the deep woods. (see following photos.) 

 You can see the woods are pretty think. I was amazed the trees behind the plane had very little damage but it turned out the 81 year old pilot (very experienced) did what authorities said was the correct thing to do when he lost power the second time shortly after take-off. He lifted the nose to kill forward air speed and pancaked in (hope that is the correct term).

The pilot suffered a broken wrist, broken ribs and a punctured lung. Not great for a 81 year old but all things considered, it could have been a lot worse.
So I went in and got my photos as you see here.

 Somebody from the Civil Air Patrol came in and we talked a minute. As they left, I said, Wait a minute, I 'm almost through and I'll go with you." He didn't hear me. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "almost".

So I leave trying to remember how I got in. It didn't take long to realize that I was no longer on the responder's path but on the squirrel and chipmunk path! No problem, the path is right over there ... I think.

Ok, I will head back to the plane and start over. Hhmm, easier said than done. I can't find my way back to the plane. Well That's ok, I was driving west when I got there and turned right (north) down the dirt road and then right again (east) to get to the plane crash site.
Aaalllll I have to do is go west and south and I will come to either of the two roads i knew were out there. All I needed to do was face the setting sun (Key Word: Setting)  and go straight and/or left and I would be ok. ... So I thought.  Memories of the television crew out three that would get footage of me coming out of the woods after getting lost didn't appeal to me so I forged on.

After 15 minutes or so, I knew I was getting deeper in the woods and in trouble. I remembered the State Trooper out there at the dirt road so I called 911 and asked to be patched through to the trooper so he could turn on his siren and I would find my way out. -- Hhmmm, trooper has left the scene. I tell them that's ok, I will be ok, I;ll find my way out ok and I forge ahead through the thorns and briers. After another 30 minutes, the skies are clouding up and with the think trees I am having difficulty determining which way is west. I really don't want to be lost after the sun sets and I know I have gone around in a circle a couple of times as some tres looked familiar.

I swallowed my pride and called 911.  They got the State Trooper back out there (or one of them) and he sounded his siren. I could hear it but couldn't tell for sure which direction. The sun was becoming covered by a light layer of clouds and 5 couldn't tell which way was west. I told them not to come in as the brush was too think and no need for them to get scratched up also. Several phone calls back and forth. They said at one point they heard me but couldn't tell where I was. Finally the 911 person locked onto my cell phone's signal and they determined I was headed the correct way. (after circling around several times). As I headed out I walked past a deer hunter's tree stand I had passed earlier.

When I finally got out, I was tired cut up and sore. I had only lost my glasses three times (found them each time) and lost one of my shoes twice (found it both times). Once I got out the rescue squad checked me out   (I insisted I didn't need them but they stayed anyway. At one point blood pressure had been 190 over something. Then it was 117 over 65. GREAT! hadn't been that good since the Air Force. What's wrong? Seems it shouldn't be that low that quick or something. Keep sitting and cooling down. Finally I was released and booked straight to the Rocky Mount Telegram and showed them my photos. They were surprised as they hadn't gotten any (I can guess why with all those thorns etc). One photo ran on the front page with my name and four more on the digital version of the paper. Here is the link to the paper's photos. http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/engine-malfunction-blamed-plane-crash-550273

BTW, the newspapers pay for photos and the television stations solicitude them for free. My personal gripe when an event like a big storm occurs and the television stations ask people to send them their photos. Another way to keep form paying professional photographers for professional work. If you wold like to see a good discussion of professionals for their work and the trend to solicit work for free. watch Harlan Ellison's You Tube clip on "Pay the Writer". The language could be cleaner but he is spot on target concerning the subject.

Bottom line: Got the photos. got a few scratches (see photo). Newspaper ran some of the photos and I got paid. They liked my work and invited me to do some more.

Lessons Learned: As my wife lovingly suggested, from now on, I will take a fully charged phone (battery was almost gone that day), and I will take my Garmin so I can get back out(left it in the car, didn't dream I would need it). Also will always take at least a long sleeve shirt and/or a jacket even if it is 90+. And yes I am putting a can of Off repellant in my camera kit also.

Oh yeah, the rescue squad said to check for ticks. Lost count but neighbor saw me walking in the door saw four on my t shirt. I picked off about 20  or so. Wife picked off at least 6 the next day. and then found a few more later. Figure the count got to about 30 ticks total. Debate rages as to whether my name should be Tickman (like the old Cartoon character) or Brier Baby.

My sincere thanks to the NC State Patrol and the Nash County Rescue folks, especially for bringing that ice cold water. Great folks all of them.

1 comment:

  1. My goodness Lee. I love this post! You sure went through a lot. Great photos though. Just shows how dangerous it is to get those important shots. Loved the humor in your writing too. Tell Kathy hi:-)


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