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Elephants and Helicopters

December 23, 2016 Elephants and Helicopters Russian M-18 helicopter

Most of you are probably not aware that most elephants are deathly afraid of helicopters for which there is a reasonably proven theory.  On the other hand, many humans go out of their way to grab a helicopter from lower Manhattan out to JFK to catch a flight rather than face traffic on the ground.  Perhaps, we should heed the intuition of elephants.
This thought was prompted by a recent crash of a Russian M-18 helicopter in Siberia shown below where eleven Russian oil personnel perished.
That event brought back memories of a similar personal experience in an M-18 flight in Mongolia from which we were all fortunate to walk away.  Our M-18 went down over twenty years ago in the remote steppes of Mongolia.  The U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia sat across from me and chose to wake me up to tell me we were about to die.  I never forgave him for that. An intact M-18 does not look so bad though you wonder if it will ever get in the air on take-off though they can come down pretty quickly.
Nonetheless, I was relieved that we did not burn which was usually the case, in that long haul M-18 flights carried fuel surrounding the passengers inside the fuselage which added a certain aroma though not one frowned upon by oil men.   However, the practice of fuel tanks surrounding passengers was finally banned when another M-18 went down in Mongolia carrying VIP dignitaries with a similar result to that of the Russians though there was very little wreckage remaining due to the fire.  
However, I must say that after having been stranded in the steppe for a week, we were most relieved to hop back on and return home to base when spare parts arrived and the aircraft was put back together.  One time in Ulaanbaatar, Joey asked which helicopter was ours to board and my response was the one with the fewest number of parts laying in front of it.
Now comes the elephant story of Jenny.  Jenny had a brief cameo appearance on the Today Show's coverage of The King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament in 2008.  The reporter asked Jason Friedman which elephant was the fastest and Jason said "Jenny" whose number was appropriately "F-1."  Jenny was our elephant of choice until she killed her mahout when a propeller driven hang glider flew overhead in the Golden Triangle.
In a subsequent King’s Cup in Hua Hin, Thailand, all of the elephants on the pitch went berserk when a royal dignitary flew in by helicopter. Therefore, the basic premise for the theory that elephants do not like low flying motorized aircraft is because their sounds remind them of bees of which they are deathly afraid because bees fly up their trunks. In fact, bee hives do provide a natural barrier for elephant boundaries in the wild.
In any event, Jenny went through a counselling period of rehabilitation that must have included extensive meditation and returned to The Golden Triangle.  Well, lo and behold, the author believed the rehabilitation had worked and, as shown below, went for speed just like the chopper runs to airports.  We were playing on the Wang Lao soccer pitch in a small Golden Triangle village, an unlikely spot for helicopters or motorized hang gliders.
However, at one point the author looked overhead and saw a helicopter approaching in the distance before Jenny heard it and then all hell broke loose.  To make matters worse the pilot was intrigued that people were actually playing polo on elephants and hovered overhead.  We survived but Jenny was removed from future elephant polo line-ups.
Jenny took an assumed name and moved to Pattaya where she killed another mahout given the appearance of another motorized flying machine.   In any event, she most likely is living further south under another assumed name giving rides to hapless Chinese tourists.
John Roberts of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation just provided us with some new information from Africa that supports the elephant fear case.  As the image below illustrates, drones are being used to herd African elephants away from areas where ivory poachers have been sighted.  
Therefore, the message here is let Jenny be your elephant whisperer. That is not to say the author does not fly in helicopters but only does so if that is the only reliable option. We chose a fixed wing in the Grand Canyon and opted for a helicopter in remote Africa. Unless you have seen helicopter pilots train at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida as the author did at a young age, you would know they are not meant to fly.

Moreover, avoid the M-18’s as they are usually old, poorly maintained and flown by pilots fueled by copious quantities of vodka. If you have no alternative, join the pilots in the vodka consumption to prepare yourself for the flight and perhaps the next life.




Siamese Chinese Porcelain Gambling Token Jewelry

Siamese/Chinese Porcelain Gambling Tokens (ca. 1820 - 1875) also called "Pee" were used in Siam at Chinese-run gambling establishment's also known as Chinese hongs. First they were used as gambling counters, but later, those tokens were widely accepted as small currency exchange within their districts. 
Now, re-purposed, The Elephant Story offers these antique token's in may forms of sterling silver mounted jewelry pieces.



Siamese Chinese Porcelain Gambling Token on Sterling Silver Earring
Siamese Chinese Porcelain Gambling Token & Silver Charm Bracelet
Siamese Chinese Porcelain Gambling Tokens & Silver Cuff Links
Siamese Chinese Porcelain Gambling Token on Sterling Silver Necklace


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