Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Great Nevada Deserts

Not sure how many of you have noticed, but my posting has gone down of late.
Just where have I been? Nevada. Well actually I'm still right here in Central Illinois, but I've been spending all my free time virtually gliding over the deserts of Nevada in search of lost aviator Steve Fossett.

If anyone had asked me about my thoughts on the desert areas in the western United States I wouldn't have really had anything to say until now.

Using Google Earth for days on end to glide over the desert has been a real lesson in frustration.

I've chosen several different altitudes to glide at. I like 3000 feet for a fast glide to pick a general location, and then come down to around 1500 feet to snoop for any possible downed aircraft. I'll then go down lower to around 300 feet or lower inspecting a suspected area from every angle.

My MTurk hit count is laughably low, as I have spent far more time using Google Earth.

I find MTurk too confining. The hunter in me likes Google Earth much better. I've placemarked several suspected objects which might be downed aircraft.

One thing that gliding at 1500 feet, or even four times that altitude will give you is an incredible sense of scale. The deserts of Nevada are vast. They are also quite diverse, and beautiful. There are whole ranges of desert where sand, and ground are colored pinkish. There are vast areas of salty flats where ancient lakes dried up. There are long sloping barren rock hills.

There are desert roads which are little more than long streaks across the desert.

And then there's the vast uninhabited areas where there are no living things except plants. Where there are no roads, no human beings of any kind. The scale of these areas is incredible. Huge barren lands with nothing but sand, and hills, and desert brush with no signs of human beings except a rarely used desert road.

These places are not touched by rain. Marks in the sands are there for decades untouched by time.

Steve Fossett should have known better to fly into the desert without a flight plan. He of all people should have known of all those who have simply vanished into the wide vast barren deadly space which is Nevada.

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