Monday, August 17

We’re flyin’ high

Karla and I got up at 5AM so she could get to Fresno early. She’s picking up Hilary and her youngest, Elliot, and taking them to a doctor’s appointment for the young’n at 8:15. So what’s up? Why can’t Hilary drive to Fresno from Florence Lake and get to the appointment on her own?

Well, she’s a busy executive now, and time is very valuable to people like her. So she’s flying out of Blayney Meadow on a helicopter. Not only that, the same flying machine is taking our horse shoer and his wife from the ranch to Florence Lake, then returning for Hilary and Elliot. But wait—there’s more!

On the way from Fresno to the ranch, Estelle, our manager at the Florence Lake Store, is taking her first helicopter ride, something she’s dreamed about from her youngest days as she grew up in South Africa. She drove to Fresno Sunday and stayed overnight in a room at the University Inn, a place the Ranch uses for all our Fresno-bound people. (An aside; the Inn was built by Paul Fansler, who was one of the stockholders in Scope Productions, an educational film producer in Fresno, of which I was vice president and chief cinematographer way back in the 1960s.)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The helicopter's pilot/owner, Richard, once worked for Harry Rogers, a local legend whose dozens of helicopters dominated the flying market in the Fresno area for decades. Richard keeps his flying machine in such perfect condition you’d think he had just taken delivery of a new one.

It's a Bell JetRanger and it reminds me of the one Harry Rogers used to fly me and my best man, Stan Bitters, to my wedding in Blayney. As he landed at Stan's Harry told me, “I was going to use an older machine, but this new one was delivered to me only yesterday and it'll get you to the meadow much faster.” No way, I told him. We have to arrive at 10 on the dot. "Not a problem," Harry said. “We’ll just do a little sightseeing while I break this thing in.”

Richard has been our go-to helicopter guy for a long time. The last two times Karla’s mom, Adeline, went to the ranch she was taken by him from our foothill place.

I expect to see lots of pictures of today’s flight. Hilary is getting her first helicopter flight, too. She and Estelle will have beaucoup wonderful memories of this day!

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