Bite of the Methow, Winthrop Kiwanis’ major fundraiser, scheduled for March 14 was one of the first — if not the first — valley casualty of the coronavirus mayhem that will forever go down as the historical marker of 2020. Hindsight in this case should be 20/20 for all the inconsistencies, misinformation and disregard for the common good that have hampered gaining an upper hand on the virus and its ensuing disease in this country.
In the early days of the rampage, Italy was seen as one of the world’s worst hot spots. The country has currently managed to largely contain the virus. The key, according to Lorenzo Menicanti, MD, chief cardiac surgeon at Milan’s hard-hit hospital, was the surprisingly high level of compliance with social distancing measures from the Italian people due to the stream of information explaining how dangerous the coronavirus is. Still today, masks must be worn in all places where it’s impossible to keep a safe distance apart.
“In the beginning, all of us were shocked by the rules. To be locked in, not being able to travel or meet people, that’s very strange for us. Italians love crowded places,” Menicanti said. “But the population, incredibly, has followed the rules.” (Quote from “Medpage Today.”)
But, I digress.
Back to Winthrop Kiwanis’ means to raise funds for the many worthwhile projects that they support throughout the year to benefit Methow valley kids. This year without the “Bite,” funds have been limited. With thoughtful consideration, the members decided to move forward with the annual Duck Race on Sept. 7.
Hundreds of numbered plastic ducks will be dumped into the Chewuch River off and vie to be first to float across the finish line at the Methow River bridge. It’s a fun event and in the two years I have watched the finish line, I have been amazed that there is always a clear winner. This year first prize is $400 followed by second prize $200, third prize $100, and fourth and fifth $50 each.
Tickets are available for $3 per duck at NAPA Auto Parts and Ulrich Pharmacy in Twisp, the Tenderfoot in Winthrop, and other locations displaying the Duck Race poster. They can also be purchased from any Kiwanian. Support a worthwhile cause!
Following is a cautionary tale from a Methow Valley News reader and Air Tactical Group Supervisor of the firefighting aircraft fleet out of Omak. Frank Clements read with interest my July 29 column about paragliders, as he had a recent potentially disastrous encounter between air tankers known as Fire Bosses, helicopters used to drop water on fires, and paragliders.
On July 22, the Omak fleet was dispatched to the South Pine Creek Fire west of Tonasket. Clements describes what happened that day as “by far the closest call I’ve ever had flying in a fire response situation. A midair collision with our twin-engine plane and a paraglider would have been catastrophic.”
As the planes and helicopters were being given orders as to where to scoop water and where to drop it, Clements saw three paragliders flying through the fire traffic area where the aircraft were working. He notified all aircraft on the fire of the intrusion and appropriate avoidance measures were taken. Operations continued.
The two Fire Bosses called via radio stating they were inbound to the fire from 2 miles out. After being cleared and making their final approach to the target, Clements looked up to see another paraglider fly up and over the plane within 500 feet. The pilot was preparing to make an evasive turn when two more paragliders came into view, narrowly escaping a midair collision. This time all air operations were alerted to cease immediately. Unable to reach the paragliders by radio, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office finally was able to contact one of the paragliders using a cruiser PA system. The paragliders finally landed, albeit to consequences.
Clements’s takeaway message is “for all general aviation aircraft including paragliders to avoid any fire by a wide margin, staying at least 12 nautical miles away.”
Thank you, Mr. Clements, for sharing your experience, expertise and caution.