Captain ZOOM-ZOOM!

My first job flying in the Gulf of Mexico as a helicopter pilot was a place they called “Gulf Tank Battery”. The Tank Battery was located at the mouth of the Mississippi’s Southwest Pass as it emptied out into the Gulf of Mexico. The facility consisted of boat docks, several large holding tank, a controls building, a quarters building, and a helicopter pad. Land was basically non-existent so, everything was elevated 10 feet off the surface. To get to any where on the facility you had to use a series of elevated walkways.

To the workers this presented a problem. Walking from the the quarters to the helicopter, instead of being a direct line of site walk that would have only taken three minutes, the walk was 12 minutes via the elevated walkways. I had from time to time landed the helicopter on the handrails of the walkways to facilitate a faster way to the controls building, but the foreman was not happy with that idea. One day the foreman decided to build a shell landing pad for the helicopter next to the quarters building, thus eliminating the longer walk to the helicopter pad.

In planning the logistics of the shell needed to build the new helicopter pad, one problem came to light. The boat docks were located on the river side of the facility and the quarters were located on the Gulf side. After a few hours of debate, it was decided that they could fashion an attachment for a 55 gallon drum to one end of a stranded cable and then on the other end splice in an old metal O-ring on the other. Then the pilot, me, would move the shell with the helicopter. This operation is called sling loading.

In the military I had done sling loads in different forms. I had done repelling where ropes dangle from the helicopter and then troops would slide down the ropes into a small area. I have also extracted Ranger Recon Patrols at the ends of ropes to remove them from a hostile situation where there was no place to land and pick them up. I did do some cargo moves but not many.

Within a few day the shell was deposited on the river side of the facility. I was able to convince them that a second barrel would keep the process moving. With the two barrels ready at the site of the shells and the form for the helicopter pad constructed, I started moving the shell. There were two guys at the shell deposit and two at the pad to empty the drum and spread the shell evenly in the form. I was moving the shell so fast that they gave up on trying to spread the shell between loads and moved the one guy from the pad to the shell site to help fill the drums faster. Before the operation was over the foreman and the facilities cook were helping to fill the drums.

That day I was nicknamed Capt. ZOOM-ZOOM. They even had a belt made for me with Capt. ZOOM-ZOOM inscribed on it.

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Published by M.Short

As a 19 year old CW2 helicopter combat pilot, M. Short served as an aircraft commander being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and eleven Combat Air Medals while serving the U.S. Army in the Vietnam war. His passion for Science Fiction and his experiences in combat as a pilot gave him his inspiration for the series -A Saga of Dogs of War. A Mercenaries Story. His series starts in 2235 after the Earth starts to heal from a cataclysmic event. The series follows the lives and experiences of one mercenary clan as they reclaim the Earth for their corporate sponsor, XTECH.

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