I would like to thank the many people who added poignant and sometimes funny comments at the end of that blog entry. It’s worth reading. I love you people.
Two years later, all three of us who were on board are doing fine. Graham Harward, the pilot who “brought us home alive,” is still flying as far as I know. John Strayer still has some range of movement issues with his gun hand, seriously injured when it went through the shattered Plexiglas when we hit, but is nonetheless still winning pistol matches. I’ve only got one visible scar from it. We were indeed lucky.
Share in our “celebration of survival.” The song written and sung by our friend Steve Denney, “Porkchopper Blues,” overlays the first three and a half minutes of the video, some of the flight film having been edited for brevity. If you hear hysterical laughter in the background, it’s us survivors and the women in our lives and some good friends: we’re hearing it for the first time on the recording, as you are now.
When the overlaid music stops, it’s your warning that things are about to get serious.
John Strayer, on the port side of the bird, was wearing a Go-Pro camera which recorded the short, fun flight, and the no-fun-at-all crash. Sorry for the engine sound. You won’t hear us talking on board the aircraft; we had radio mics and headphones for that which didn’t pick up our conversation over the engine noise. In the seconds before the crash, you won’t hear me say to Graham, “Those trees are getting’ kinda tall, bro,” nor will you hear him say “I don’t like this—I don’t like this at all.”
Since I have a mechanical IQ of about 50, I didn’t hear the engine sputtering with the muffs on…but John and Graham did, and thanks to the Go-Pro, so will you. Some folks asked why we didn’t just auto-rotate into a hard but safe landing when the engine failed and we lost altitude. It’s kinda hard to auto-rotate when you don’t have rotors, and as you’ll see in the video, the rotors were gone in the first fraction of a second when they hit the treetops. Notice how quickly things proceed from there. “Gravity sucks”…fast.
Click here for video if you can’t see it on your screen.
Among other things, we learned a firearms safety lesson on that short, ill-fated flight in which several guns were on board, one drawn and in hand during the incident, but no shots were fired. If you’ve taken one of my classes between then and now, you’ve heard me discuss it in the opening firearms safety lecture. If you haven’t, it will be the topic of the next blog entry here.
The recent atrocity in Paris reminds us all of the continuing danger from homicidal fanatics. The cowardly murderers ran rampant, unopposed; according to some reports, one or both of the police officers killed in the massacre were unarmed and helpless to fight back.
President Obama is taking a lot of heat for not flying to Paris to join a reported 40 other heads of state in a show of solidarity. This is one thing I won’t criticize the man for. If I were head of Secret Service I would have stood in the Oval Office and screamed at him, “It’s nucking futs! Can you imagine a more irresistible target for Islamic terrorists than forty-one of you, including the head of the Great Satan itself?!?” I’m frankly amazed that there wasn’t an attack on the gathering, though I’m glad there wasn’t…and if the free world’s security services are smart, they won’t tell us if there was such a conspiracy and they were able to successfully abort it behind the scenes.
The prohibitionists and anti-self-defense groups will scoff at the idea that one or more people with handguns among the crop of victims might have thwarted two men who wielded AK47s. They don’t want to hear about Charl van Wyk, who stopped twice that many in a South African attack, armed only with his five-shot snub-nose .38 revolver. You can read about his case and more – and about dozens of helpless victims murdered when there wasn’t “a good guy (or gal) with a gun” to stand up for them – in the current issue of American Handgunner magazine: http://americanhandgunner.com/the-false-hope-of-gun-free-zones/ .
The authorities expect more such attacks throughout the free world and, yes, here. My advice is load, holster, and be ready.
It’s not about the odds…it’s about the stakes.
That’s enough about what I think. I want to hear what YOU think about this.
An attorney friend wrote me this morning to say, “… been following your blog, great stuff. Forgive my crass, sniveling, pond-scum lawyer attitude BUT, you ought to be plugging Deadly Force in the blog to boost sales …”
Which does, frankly, make sense. My new book “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense,” just came out. So far, according to Amazon, it’s doing well, and listed as their best-seller in its category.
I grovel in gratitude to my beautiful and long-suffering editor, Corrina Peterson, who managed to get it out in time for Christmas.
It’s actually my third book this year, all from the same publisher (FW Media, the Gun Digest folks). The earlier two are “Gun Safety in the Home” and “Gun Digest Book of SIG-Sauer,” second edition.
One more class to finish this week and another mid-month, and the old guy here is gonna kick back for Christmas.
And if anyone says, “OMG, you self-promoting SOB,” well, I guess I can honestly reply, “I did it on the advice of a lawyer.”
On this day of giving thanks, I hope you’re all with friends and family and, if you’re caught in the Northeast storm, I hope you get through it OK.
And if you’re in Ferguson, Missouri, well, condolences. I hope you get through that storm, too. If you’re NOT in Ferguson, you have one more thing to be thankful for.
For me, I’m thankful that I only have to watch CNN, currently the “all Ferguson, all the time” network, when I want to. Not until last night did they even mention the murder of the young black man who may have witnessed the Michael Brown shooting and given honest testimony that favored Officer Wilson. However, CNN didn’t make that connection. Conservative Treehouse did, a day or two before. Thanks, Treepers! . Indeed, some of the most incisive commentary on this whole case can be found at the Treepers’ main website This element of the case needs more investigation…
A lesson: mad dogs bite anyone, including their own. Among the casualties are the burned-down African-American church that Michael Brown’s biological dad attended. And the bakery of the nice black lady who, throughout the whole mess, had been providing free food for protesters. The difference between mad dogs and rioters is that no one blames you if you shoot rabid dogs.
Meanwhile, a couple of New York Times reporters have published the new address of Officer Wilson and his new wife. If that home is burned down, I think those reporters and their paper will bear significant responsibility. (Someone on the conservative side has, in turned, put the addresses of the two reporters on the Internet. Please, folks, encourage everyone to leave that alone: don’t let them turn “us” into “them.”) It would seem that some elements of the lynch mob have already put a price on Darren Wilson’s head.
Thanks to all the emergency service personnel who are sacrificing their holiday with their families for the safety of the good citizens of Ferguson and other locales that have caught the sparks of civil disturbance.
“No good ever came of mass emotion. The audience that’s easily moved to tears is as easily moved to sadistic dementia.” — P.J. O’Rourke
We’d have to be hermits not to know what happened in Ferguson, Missouri when the no-bill from the grand jury came in on Officer Darren Wilson on the 24th. It was what many had predicted. And, as also predicted, the embers from that conflagration flew a good distance, and sparked protests elsewhere, though none yet so violent as at Ground Zero.
This week I attended a large law enforcement training function where a police chief said, “It would be hard to imagine how this could have been handled worse in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.” What he was talking about was law enforcement’s failure to make certain things clear to the public about what the preliminary investigation was already revealing.
Back in 1972, when they first pinned a badge on me, I was told that we were the keepers of the secrets of the community. We owed the suspect/defendant and the victim alike their rights to privacy. We learned to say, “No comment” to reporters. “It will all come out in court.”
What I realized early on and have preached to brother and sister cops in the decades since is that this doesn’t work when the cops themselves become the accused. An accusation of wrongdoing that goes unanswered is seen as a silent plea of nolo contendere, which translates roughly from the Latin as “we do not contest the charge against us.” The general public doesn’t see much difference between that and a plea of Guilty…and “pleading nolo” generally results in a penalty remarkably similar to what would accompany an actual Guilty verdict.
On the evening of the 25th, on CNN, I watched Anderson Cooper speak as an impartial voice of reason alongside Mark O’Mara, who has performed much the same function for that network since he became a resident specialist there on legal issues. The clarity with which Missouri prosecutor Robert McCullogh explained the evidence the grand jury reviewed leading to their decision was ignored by those who came to Ferguson to act out – they started running toward their long-planned violent goal before they could have possibly heard it. Their minds were made up, and they didn’t want to be distracted by facts. But the reporters had to listen – cramming sleeplessly on the long transcript of what the grand jury had heard, or at least, what their research assistants gave them in digest form – and could no longer ignore the reality.
A four-way dialogue included O’Mara, Cooper, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Sunny Hostin. Toobin, apparently, had been convinced by the conjunction of the fact evidence and the eyewitness testimony of several African-American eyewitnesses with the account of the officer who pulled the trigger, and who spoke publicly last night for the first time on ABC. Only Sunny Hostin, who had been one of the leaders of the CNN “lynch the defendant” mob in both the Zimmerman trial last year and the Wilson hearing this year, disputed the facts that had come into evidence. The other three seemed incredulous, and she looked almost embarrassed to find herself still defending the now-discredited narrative of helpless child gunned down by racist cop. “He was unarmed,” she all but screamed, and seemed oblivious when O’Mara explained that when Brown was killed, he was lunging for the cop’s gun for the second time.