Yesterday, a helicopter carrying two biologists and a pilot crashed in a small town where I spent one summer interning. Ok, I wasn't in that town, but I spent a lot of time there, calling where I was stationed a town is stretching reality a bit too much. Sadly, it had been my honor to work with both of these biologists. I hadn't really kept in touch since I left the agency, but I still counted them as friends and cherished having them as officemates (we shared an office for a few years), and for one of them as a classmate and teammate while we attended college together.
As tragic as this event is, I can still picture the banter in the office over this past week. You know there were the smiles and the "lucky dog" remarks as this date crept closer and closer on the calendar. Going up in the air and flying as low as possible over a hillside or a river to count something is one of the big perks of the best jobs. Everyone knows the risks, but it's still one of the highlights. Why is it that the most thrilling, the things we look forward to the most, are the ones that have the greatest potential for extremely bad consequences should something go wrong?
When I was at the agency, I often hoped that someone wouldn't make a flight date and I'd get to go as the other recorder. I mean, it's just one of the coolest things you can do, and like so many I love flying. Not commercial flying, that's a pain in the arse, but getting up in the air - it's the best, getting a private pilot's license is still on my to-do list. I don't think of myself as an adrenaline junkie though. I mean I suppose it's possible, I love roller coasters (as long as the restraints don't cause pain). I used to really like driving fast (don't so much any more, but mostly because it's a conflict of interests). I've broken a ton of bones for a variety of reasons which largely boil down to simply having too much fun (and resulted in an ADD diagnosis - and possibly glowing in the dark, but the jury is still out on that).
As a mom I'm all for my kids getting the little bonks and scrapes of childhood. Skinned knees are an accomplishment! It means you are succeeding in growing as a child. Yet, at the same time, I'm always insisting on appropriate safety gear, the best car seats, taking appropriate precautions. Where is the line?
I will miss my friends who met this unfortunate fate. Yet, there is a part of me ready to volunteer to go complete the count they weren't able to do. That desire to go may be the scariest part of this whole event.