My First Helicopter Ride! :-D

Sometime last century, I had got a hold of a helicopter game I thought was titled “Apache: Attack Chopper”, but when I google that title I get no game results. I thought I still had the game, but I cannot find it. Instead, I found “Comanche 2”, and Team Apache. While they are from the very same time period I am remembering, neither one validates the most important part of my memory about the game.

I have a very distinct memory of a helicopter game that came with a printable instruction manual. A very large manual. It took up something like 200 pages, printed on both sides, making it roughly 400 pages (sides) total. The first half was real flight instructions for piloting the particular helicopter (which I thought all these years was called an Apache Attach Chopper). Out of both game disks that I still have, only one has a printable manual, Comanche 2, but it is certainly not 200 pages. The second half was how to play the game.

Well, anyway, I loved that game, and, in particular, the first half of the manual, which, after I read, I honestly felt I could pilot the real thing. I have always loved helicopter flight simulators, but because of that manual, I have always wanted to learn how to fly one, or at least ride in a helicopter.

So, I discovered that there were rides available this year in conjunction with the Oneida County Fair, here in Malad City, Idaho. The rides cost $15 and as I watched, it seemed to circle the valley. So I grabbed my digital camera and walked on down to the launching area.

It was kinda worth it, but mostly it was a rip-off. I was told, by the pilots wife, that the ride was around the valley, but instead it was only around the block. And to make matters worse, all day yesterday the helicopter was flying around the city. It must have been a different pilot, but whatever the reason, I did get comparatively shafted.

And now I have discovered a shortcoming of Qumana, I cannot insert the iframe html code to have the video on my blog. So, if I haven’t fixed this entry by the time you read this (using blogger’s web editor) click the following link to view the video:

My Latest Toy

Back in June I bought a Canon Rebel T2. Don’t ask me why, I cannot say, as I do not know. I have never been into photos or photography. Cinematography on the other hand, now that is where my interest always lied.

I guess I was a little perturbed at the current quality of digital cameras. Even video cameras cannot even begin to compare with the quality of film, not by a long shot. So, I jumped onto the good ole world wide web for a bit of quasi research and came up with this fantastic idea to buy a 35mm film camera and CanoScan 9000F, which is a combination that would blow the latest digital cameras out of the waters of digital quality.

And, when I considered that 35mm photography has always been fed by the movie industry, which is fading fast away from film. It just made additional sense to buy now; Who knows if there will be 35mm film available in 10-15 years.

Well, as you may or may not imagine, the above mentioned setup requires home processing capabilities. No problem, it’s still cost effective anyway I look at it, so now I have chemicals for both C41, which I need for testing and learning, and E6, which is what I’ll need when I start getting serious about my photos. My preferred ISO has always been 100, but I plan to start shooting slide rather than negative film. This is the 21st century, so I won’t even consider black and white.

Now, It is important to realize, that I have no training or formal education concerning photography. As I mentioned, I never had any serious interest in photography. I still don’t. But, I decided it was also necessary to learn something, so I have purchased "The Basic Book of Photography" (5th edition) by Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm, which has proved far beyond any fairy tales, I love the book, it’s exactly what I needed. Another book I bought is "Beyond Basic Photography" by Henry Horenstein, which is a great book for the exact reason I bought it sight unseen, which is to learn darkroom technicalities. Only problem with that one is it focuses mainly on the horrid black and white, but it’s still of use and does include color.

So, my prep covered, it was time to choose a camera. Based on the [quasi] research I did, I discovered that Canon has this ingenious technique of a standardize lens attachment on all their Electro-Optical System (EOS) cameras. No other camera manufacturer does that. With all other makes, you are limited to specific lenses constructed for the specific model. Duh, talk about a no-brainer! And, to top that category off, Canon is the leader in consumer photo printing and scanning. For consumer video, I always buy Sony, but for digital photography, the clear choice is Canon, hands-down.

I picked the Rebel T2 because it was the last latest and greatest 35mm camera canon ever manufactured, and all reviews I found for it just raved, often giving 5 of 5 stars. I found one complete with lens, instructions, and a strap on eBay, and snatched it up for the average price this combo sales for on eBay, roughly $55.

It became clear within a day that my shooting styles for video and good cinematography simply does not translate well to photographing. With cinematography, I am in control and I can set up any shot to capture perfect video. In short, I have to shoot photos exactly opposite as I would shoot a scene of motion. The standard 28-90mm lens is insufficient.

Back at the Canon website, I narrowed my selection down by affordability to the 75-300mm lens. On eBay that lens sales at an average of $80 for the DC motor and $130 for the ultrasonic motor (USM) (purchased new at a good camera store, they sale for $150 and $180 respectively). I was lucky to find a seller who had posted an auction for the USM model, but was using the picture of a DC model. I messaged him and he sent images of the actual lens, and I got a deal when I won it for $111. Good thing I was the only bidder who knew it was actually the USM model. 😉

So, that’s my latest toy (the EF 75-300mm f:4-5.6 III USM), and I love it. At least, so far I love how it looks, feels and acts. I haven’t seen the pictures yet, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

My next intended toy? A new tripod. I’m aiming for the Manfrotto 055XPROB with a Velbon PH-368 2-way panhead. Two of them (each), one for the Rebel and one for the [Sony] video camera. 😀


Me sitting in front of my new sawhorses holding my drill.

It’s taken me a few years (and counting) to build my trailer. One of the toughest obstacles has been obtaining the tools necessary. I have purchased a router, dozens of C clamps, a table saw, a circular saw, two drills, levels, tape measures, squares, hammers, knee pads and a couple ladders. I have spent over a thousand dollars on tools I will never use again.

All the while, I was cutting my lumber on the ground, off the back of the pickup truck, or between the ladders. With the recent setback in weather that ruined, and forced me to redo, the majority of work I completed last year, I have resolved to doing this a bit differently.

I spent the day (well, it’s yesterday now time-wise, though I have not been to sleep) building four sawhorses. I think I could have gotten by with two, but I decided, what the hell, if I’m going to do it right, I’m going to do it really right.


So, now I have four sawhorses I will never use again, but at least they stack for convenient stowing…