Michael's Dispatches

Pixie Dust


Thursday night, 06 August 2009

I made this photo last night in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  This Landing Zone is very dangerous.  A few weeks ago, another helicopter was coming into this LZ and was shot down at the last minute, killing all passengers and crew.  Two children on the ground also were killed.  The sparks coming off the rotors occur when the helicopters land in hot, dusty conditions.  The landing itself occurs in a dangerous "brownout."  Brownout danger is compounded by the sparks which light up the dust and can confuse pilots who are wearing extremely sensitive nightvision goggles.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    a&n · 12 years ago
    You're the best Mike...Intriguing photo. Can't wait til Monday. A sincere thanks. Please take care. Our military is the best. Oh that they had a leader worthy of them. You are all in our thoughts and actions.
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    Tim Perren · 12 years ago
    Great photo. No words can begin to describe the feelings one has when landing in a hot LZ. My heart sinks everytime I think about our men and women that are being killed daily in that dump. I am so glad that we have a reporter like Michael over there, doing great work, taking pictures for us all to see. Everyone, pray for your people that are over there going through hell everyday so that we may live here in peace.
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    Maura · 12 years ago
    What an interesting concept and Photo.
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    petedcurtis · 12 years ago
    You mentioned the Brits are really glad to see and use the US Medvac heli and US medical facilities. Do they have a good long term follow up on their active service health issues in the UK, i.e. like the US troops have with the VA? I read they do have a National Health Care system. Does this health system work well for them and their families or do they need private health insurance as well?

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    Dr. Michael S. Brown · 12 years ago
    Great image Michael! I was hoping you would try to capture that nightime dust effect. Best still photo I've ever seen of it. I read your posts many months ago about your trusty Canon and that influenced me to buy more Canon gear. It would be great to hear more about your photographic techniques. Perhaps you could offer a link to Canon retailers on your site to generate some income.
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    RDShipley · 12 years ago
    Thank you again for all you do for our troops and those of our allies. Have you heard yet of any overarching strategy for success in Afghanistan? As GEN Petraeus said, "How does this end?" I am surprised that this war still has support of the American people remembering how opposed they were to the war in Iraq. I hate seeing our brave men and women being killed and wounded without a clear exit strategy in sight. BTW, I flew Chinooks in Vietnam and know how versitile and useful they are to troops on the ground. Keep up the great work, Michael.
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    Wilson · 12 years ago
    Mike - the photo is awesome. I believe the pilots are even more awesome. I can't imagine how hard that must be, to deal with brownout and night and nightvision goggles and pixie dust. Never mind that someone is shooting at you. If you ever get a chance to talk to one of those guys, ask them if they played a lot of video games as kids. They were probably champs.

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    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    Awesome shot! I would loved to been there to capture that on my HandyCam Pro:-)
    BTW Really enjoyed listening to you on Dennis Miller. Your SITREP is clear, concise, and honest. Something totally lacking in the MGMSM!
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    Greg · 12 years ago
    Fantastic picture mate! You lead a very exciting life style. Be safe!
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    JMK · 12 years ago
    Are people in support: seems to me that the media is not blowing this up in the news like they did Iraq. Do we hear about every single death with numbers every day? They are barely covering Afghanistan and with instead people are focusing on the economy and health care and Sotomeyer. It is ridiculous and sad.
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    Claudia Means · 12 years ago
    Great photo Michael! Wow our military is like no other any where in the world, god bless all our men and women serving. God speed to you all.
    Looking forward to the dispatch thanks so very much.
    here is a really awesome tribute to one of our own Sgt. First Class John C. Beale sooooooooooooo worth seeing, much tears will be shed though, beautiful!

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    cari · 12 years ago
    Hi Michael, thanks for this amazing photo, and all your posts that keep us so riveted and in touch, at least a little bit with what is happening there. Please extend our most gracious thanks to all the warriors you encounter for joining us in this fight for such a beleaguered place and people. May they all have some sense of the eternal significance of the battle.
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    Colin Perry · 12 years ago
    Brilliant moment captured. Kudos!
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    War News Updates · 12 years ago
    Another excellent photo. Look forward to your report on Monday.
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    Mike Lacey · 12 years ago
    Given Mr. Yon is with British Forces right now I suspect the Chinook is British.
    Stay safe, Michael, nd keep up the good work.
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    AZ Angel · 12 years ago
    Awesome photo!!
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    Den B · 12 years ago
    As a 14 year veteran of the South African / Angola bush war during the 70's and 80's I really appreciate the calm and rational dispatches from Mr. Yon. A very real experience so well conveyed.
    All the best and be safe.
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    Hinch · 12 years ago
    Mike, this pic is now on my desktop. Thanks so much for your efforts--but we depend on you to tell us what the shooters are doing, since they can't do it themselves. So stay safe. The DOD may not realize it yet, but you're a critical resource.
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    Sandy · 12 years ago
    This is an amazing photo of a fascination effect. I'm so glad you are there to be giving us accurate reports of the battles in Afghanistan.

    Thank you so much!

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    Paul Thailand · 12 years ago
    Mike, stay safe brother. Thanks for being on the front lines for us.
    Saw that three paratroops were killed in a Jackal there in Helmand Province.
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    Robert · 12 years ago
    Michael, iam on a fixed income but I will definitely give wat i can. I arrpeciate ur work, the risks, etc, we need more choppers there, and the UK/US had better get moving. How can you get from A to B the safest, fastest way? HELICOPTERS. MORE. PLEASE!!
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    GDH · 12 years ago
    Please make the Pixie Dust photo available for sale in your on-line store. It is a stunning photo.
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    Matt · 12 years ago
    I read every column you put in my inbox. I don't have a lot of extra money, but I figured I could buy you a couple rolls of film or maybe a meal in some airport. God bless you.
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    Matt · 12 years ago
    I think I forgot to mention that I don't know why it took so long for me to send some money. I certainly didn't mean "I don't know why I read every column." I know exactly why -- you do excellent work.
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    Geoff · 12 years ago
    I'm a helicopter pilot who recently returned from the middle east. The greatest relief for me was not finally returning home after so many months, but the fact that I wouldn't have to do any more of those night sand landings! Best wishes to the brothers and sisters still over there.
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    Michael Conniff · 12 years ago
    Very good shot. In my time of crew duties I have tried to capture that shot several times. Looks different from the ground though. Congratulations on your picture it looks even more beautiful while on NvGs.

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