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.


# Dona Griffin 2010-12-14 04:50
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.
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# Angry Young Man 2010-12-14 05:35
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?
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# lourdes 2010-12-14 06:14
I just love this picture, thanks for your service
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# TheOldMan 2010-12-14 06:28
Angry Young Man: If the blades are perpendicular to the ground, then I think the chopper has more serious problems.
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# Big Bob E-8 USAF Ret 2010-12-14 07:10
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.
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# Bob-O 2010-12-14 07:22
K-E --- I think is is talking about the angle of the blade edge, not of the entire rotor
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# Dave Carlton 2010-12-14 07:33
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
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# JBD 2010-12-14 17:01
aurora sikorskiensis
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# Peter O. 2010-12-14 18:38
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.
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# MT 2010-12-15 00:30
Amazing photo. Our son is in Afghanistan at a COP. We enjoy and appreciate the photos and stories that you share. Thank you!
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# Karen 2010-12-15 08:37
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.
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# Linda, Joes Stryker Mom 2010-12-16 02:51
Thank you, I recall remember your original post regarding this post and I will honor its' name sakes.
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# Sharon J. 2010-12-16 16:07
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!
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# Tad Curry 2010-12-18 14:56

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.
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# Tad Curry 2010-12-18 15:02
I went back and reread the original post. The pilot's explanation seems pretty scientific!
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# Diane 2010-12-28 12:23
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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