Monday, May 4, 2009

Extreme Wrestling

If you are a follower and faithful reader of my blog, you know my husband Michael is a pilot. You may not know, however, what he does as a pilot. I'm so incredibly proud of him for his long record of safety, his sterling reputation in our state as a pilot and guide, and his awesome skills in the air! I wanted to tell you a bit about the variety of things he does in this line of work.
Well, he does some flight seeing for tourists, he takes photographers who have hired him to their desired sites of interest, he flies hunting clients to their lodgings, he scouts and locates wreckages, he does drop off hunts for residents, he flies along the Iditarod trail, he takes fly in fishermen, he hauls supplies for builders, he flies journalists and other media people to story sites, he takes people whale and bear watching, and he also works for our Alaska State Fish and Game.

His work with Fish and Game takes him to all corners of our huge state, and always promises him a challenge and an adventure. He absolutely loves it, and has so much respect for the hard-working biologists he partners with. He does surveys, where he flies in grids and counts the various wildlife, while a biologist flies with him and enters data on their laptops. They count moose, bear, caribou, wolves, wolverine, sheep, and even grouse. He does capture work, where he finds animals for the biologists by flying low over the terrain where they were last seen, then radios in the helicopters so the animals can be shot with darts to sedate them, and then worked with. The biologists may put GPS collars on them, or do blood tests, or do ultrasounds to test for pregnancy, or any number of routine checks.

Or, as you will see in the pictures below, he may do capture work in a different way. For sheep, its a whole new ballgame. You see, sheep move so fast, and are so high up in the mountains, they can only be caught using old-fashioned muscle and the miracle of flight...combined

Michael flies through a mountain pass, and low over the ridges of high peaks...scouting for sheep. When he finds them, the waiting helicopters are called in. Men are waiting in the helicopters..and crouch at the ready as the big bird swoops in, lower and lower. At the exact right moment (and believe me, it IS a critical timing event!) they leap out of the helicopter and onto the back of the sheep, quickly wrestling it down into the snow and immediately shooting a spray of sedation up its nose. The sedation is so strong, if a man were to accidently inhale it (or be shot, in the case of the darts) they will die within minutes without an antedote to reverse the effect. For this reason, each man who does this work carries a vile of reversal-medication velcroed to the shoulder of their jackets. I know this sounds like a science-fiction movie, what I am describing, but it IS indeed how capture work is done, and its pretty cool.

Michael went on one of these jobs this week, and he shared these photos with me. These are not really seen anywhere in the world, so I wanted to share these rare photos here.

Here the chopper closes in on some sheep:

You can see the rotors of the helicopter here, just rising over the ridge as the sheep dashes away.

See the guys in the doorway, ready to jump out on the sheep? Michael calls these young, tough guys the "rock stars" or the "cowboys" depending on how the day went.
He leaps on the sheep and wrestles him into the snow, as the other sheep flee. Now that's what I call EXTREME WRESTLING!
Now they can work on the sheep at will, while Michael flies over to make sure all has been accomplished. That's him in the Super Cub in the background.

All in a days' work, right Honey?


Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

This are hot hot hot photos!!!!!

Man.. Congrats to your husband on his awesome pilot skills.. and safety record.. and cool job!!!!

Dahl sheep bull dogging... Who woulda figured?????

Carole said...

Wow! How absolutely amazing and fascinating! It's so awesome to hear about what goes on outside my own little world, thanks for sharing, that is so cool!

Leah said...

VERY cool pictures! I know that I really don't like flying, but each time I've gone up with Mike has been a treat. I always feel safe and am able to enjoy the miracle of flight.

Thanks for sharing these photos. They're amazing!

Mere said...

That's soo cool!!! I applaud your husband...that's impressive!! Those pics are just awesome!!

Love, Mere

The Empty Envelope said...

Wow, very very cool!!! Thanks for sharing these!! Pass the thanks on to your hubby too!

Kim said...

My adjective has already been used, I see . . . VERY COOL!

Denise K. said...

My should call the local paper or news channel, they would love to see these and would surely do a story!!! What an exciting line of work your husband is in...full of adrenaline, variety, and beauty of your gorgeous state! I think he has a dream job! THANK YOU for sharing your life with us never cease to amaze me! :-)

FlipFlop Mom said...

Oh.. WOW!!!!! amazing photos!!! nothing I think I would have ever seen if it weren't for you!!