Helicopter Bridge Inspection
Apr 21, 2007 I-355 & Pool from the Ellie Foo Foo
The paramotor has made me think about engine failures a lot more even
while flying other craft. During the competition last month I was surprised by
the very sudden demise of my Top 80. So now, flying the helicopter, I'm
constantly looking for
"outs." Knowing the wind direction is even more important since
I'll have only about 20 seconds to ponder my naveal. You pretty much have to have a plan
in mind already. There are times, admittedly, when I'm
thinking "ok, don't quit me right now." These thoughts aren't consuming, just a
This evening's trip had two basic
purposes. Two friends and myself wanted to check out and photograph the
Interstate 355 extension, DuPage County's money dump—its "Meandering
Project", and the pool where I'll be testing the Agama Water Rescue
System. Of course it's all for fun, this helicopter is, after all, my
charitable donation to the economy. I help support Oliver's Helicopters
who keeps it running smoothly (well, as smoothly as a helicopter can
For good pictures, the doors must go. Paramotor pilot Tim
Kaiser was the photographer and doorless flight should be no big deal. But
passenger, who'd only been airborne once before, might be another story.
We put Edgar in the middle. As it turned out, he did just fine and,
after refueling he rode by the door and liked it.
Departure and arrival were to the south. Since I'm at the south end
of my subdivision we hover taxi'd north to get a good run. Even though
you can go nearly vertical, it's much easier to handle an engine failure
from an angling climb. The south departure is one where it would be most
beneficial for Mr. Lycoming (the engine) to remain happy.
You know your county has too much money when...
have this perfectly pretty little stream that runs through the forest
preserve. It was lined with trees and added nicely to the scene from
above and aground. It's been minding it's own little business for
centuries. A hundred years ago or so, when farmers made the land useful,
they redirected the water to allow easier tilling.
So now, at huge expense to DuPage taxpayers (of which I'm one), we
are going to make the stream meander again. Yes, they're moving many
tons of earth and chopping down hundreds of trees to ostensibly make it
the way it "was." I was hoping for an ice age project, with freezer
lines and compressors maintaining a quarter-mile thick layer of ice.
That would put it the way it was when glaciers carved things up a
millennia ago. Alas, we must work within our limited billion-dollar
budget. Sacrifices must be made.
Talk about high maintenance?
think that pools would be pretty easy—water, chemicals, filter and
forget. You underestimate the tenacity of water in it's pursuit of
freedom. When Mike discovered a leak in his recently installed pool, the
water had to be emptied, the leak fixed and $800 worth of water put back
int. Yes, $800. No, apparently you can't just run the hose into it. All
told it was a $3000. Then it still leaked. No wonder he wanted to make
sure I don't drown—I could sink to the bottom and tear a hole in the
lining. Another leak.
I'll be very, very careful running into it with my paramotor. Boat
owners have whined that a boat is a hole in the water into which money
is poured. The same seems to apply for a hole in the ground into which
water is poured.
and I have reconnoitered this project on another helicopter trip and
it's fascinating to watch its progress. That river crossing section is
one long expanse of steel. This seems to be a decent use of tax dollars
as it will relieve congestion in the growing burbs. I know there is
controversy about these expansion projects and valid arguments on both
sides but think about whatever road it is that you take to work.
Aren't you glad it's there? I'll bet there was controversy when it was
Being Sunday there was essentially nobody working on it so I was able
to fly right down to the ground. Legally I don't have to mind the FAR 91
rule about 500 feet but practically I cannot do this if there were
people around. Vacant as it was I had lots of engine-out options.
Aviation's golden rule applies for me, too: "Don't piss anybody off!"
It will be fun to track progress of this roadway since I'll
eventually get to use it for transporting my paramotoring self to
destinations southward. That'll be fun.
In a hundred years it would be
interesting to see what it looked like during construction.