Michael's Dispatches

Ripley’s Believe it Or Not


Helicopter Rotors glowing due to Kopp-Etchells Effect

14 December 2010

Ripley’s Believe it or Not has asked to publish one of my photos in their next book.  This photo was made in Sangin, Afghanistan during the last time I was with British forces.  Sangin is the most dangerous place in the country.  The enemy is good and the fighting is serious.  The area freaks out some people.  Sangin is a courage tester and every mission I half expected would be my last.  Over a hundred British soldiers were killed in the area and now our Marines are well on the way to top that.  Sangin brings no-kidding combat.  Helicopters land on small bases at night without lights.  A few minutes walk from where this photo was made, another helicopter was shot out of the sky apparently with an RPG.  Many nights, when the helicopters land, the rotors glow due to the Kopp-Etchells Effect.

The photographs I made of the Kopp-Etchells Effect at Sangin have been seen in many countries around the world, and soon will be published in Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.  You are welcome to download a copy for a single personal use only.  Please click Kopp-Etchells Photo to download.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dona Griffin · 10 years ago
    Congratulations! My husband and I have been following your work since our son, Sgt. Dale R. Griffin, was KIA in Afghanistan 27 Oct 2009 and we found your pictures of the memorial tee pee erected there in honor of the fallen from the 1-17 and posted online. Love your work and hope you continue to be blessed with opportunities to get the "word" out through your photography.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Angry Young Man · 10 years ago
    Very nice.

    I wonder what if the K-E Effect causes a loss of integrity in the blades. Does it occur when the blades are perpendicular to the ground? And is it a security risk, that is, could someone target an otherwise dark helicopter as a result?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    lourdes · 10 years ago
    I just love this picture, thanks for your service
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TheOldMan · 10 years ago
    Angry Young Man: If the blades are perpendicular to the ground, then I think the chopper has more serious problems.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Big Bob E-8 USAF Ret · 10 years ago
    Thank you, Dona and your husband for raising a fine young man like Dale who would voluntarily go into harm's way. God bless you both, and Dale.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob-O · 10 years ago
    K-E --- I think is is talking about the angle of the blade edge, not of the entire rotor
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave Carlton · 10 years ago
    I'm pretty sure the word intended was "parallel" as no configuration imaginable would perpendicular work.

    Dave Carlton USAF Ret
    Spectre GUnner
    B52 Tail Gunner
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JBD · 10 years ago
    aurora sikorskiensis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter O. · 10 years ago
    Have always loved your work Michael... Congratulations of having this picture recognized world-wide!

    Our son-in-law is currently stationed in Kandahar as a Chaplain with the 504 Military Police Battalion. His unit works with Afghan Police in their towns and neighborhoods. They train and coach their Afghan counter-parts in an "On-the-Job" program that is highly hazardous to themselves. Thank you for telling the story of our sons and daughters so very well. We appreciate your bringing them closer to us.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MT · 10 years ago
    Amazing photo. Our son is in Afghanistan at a COP. We enjoy and appreciate the photos and stories that you share. Thank you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Karen · 10 years ago
    This is one of my very favorite of your photos, Michael (just one, though - I have several favorites)! Congratulations on this honor! I'm glad many more people will see your great work. I had never heard of the K-E Effect before. Always good to learn something new.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Linda, Joes Stryker · 10 years ago
    Thank you, I recall remember your original post regarding this post and I will honor its' name sakes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sharon J. · 10 years ago
    Thanks for sharing your photography wonders with us, and for all the information you provide keeping it "real" for us.
    Very Happy Holidays to you, and wishing you success in your endeavors & embed attempts in 2011!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tad Curry · 10 years ago

    Since your original post, have any engineer or scientist types out there offered any explanations for this? Dust igniting in the blades' heat? Specks of stone sparking off the metal? Crazy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tad Curry · 10 years ago
    I went back and reread the original post. The pilot's explanation seems pretty scientific!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Diane · 10 years ago
    perhaps it is something within the makeup of that particular sand that when it makes contact with the blades, causes sparks.

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