Guest blog: Helicopter pilot Megan Klopper
"Can we try get closer? Maybe a little higher..."
"Can we go around again?"
This was a normal day in the office with "M&M". Meg and I would be hugging the cliffs flying slowly as we scanned them for any nests, white markings or parents flying along with us. It was exhausting! If there were a degree for multitasking, I would have my masters. I would constantly be monitoring the machine, airspeed, height, planning escape routes, watching the wind and responding to Meg's many flying directions while she hung out the side of the helicopter, GPS and map in hand, like a spider-monkey. It had to have been some of my best and most intense flying yet!
I got my Private license last year and have been trying to build up hours for my Commercial license, this was the most exciting hour building I had done so far! Having flown for the project in 2012, I was so excited that we had the opportunity to help again this year. Flying in the Cederberg between beautiful untouched mountains with deep valleys, sheer cliffs and breath taking waterfalls was such a treat. Flying with a purpose and a goal for Meg's Black Eagle survey was incredible. With the helicopters we managed to spot over 30 nests in matter of days.
It was a once in a lifetime experience that only a handful of pilots got to enjoy thanks to Meg and my instructor Stefan. Thank you and good luck with the rest of your research, we hope to see you soon! :)
|Megan M and Megan K prepare for take off|
|Signs of the eagles|
|Some nests are more tucked away than others|
|An example of a Black Eagle nest seen from the helicopter|