The Kopp-Etchells Effect


A CH-47 helicopter whirls in with a “sling load” of resupplies from Camp Bastion to FOB Jackson in Sangin.

The pilot comes in fast, to the dark landing zone, lighted only by “Cyalumes,” which Americans call “Chemlights.” The sensitive camera and finely engineered glass make the dark landing zone appear far lighter.  The apparent brightness of the small Cyalumes provides reference.

A show begins as the helicopter descends under its halo.

The charged helicopter descends into its own dust storm.

Gently releasing the sling load.

The pilot hovers away from the load, pivots and begins to land.

The dust storm ripples and flaps over the medical tents.

Heat causes the engines to glow orange.

Dust begins to clear even before landing.  The helicopter, under its own halo, casts a moon shadow.

Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
People in conversation:
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chase Kenyon · 12 years ago
    "Sgt Bill Cahir, USMC

    I was struck by your dispatch; the very first name that appears on your list, Sgt Bill Cahir, fell last week in Afghanistan. He was a member of 4th CAG and a 40 year old Marine Sgt. His brother was a classmate of mine at State College High School and Bill and I are alumni of Penn State University. Bill is the third soldier of the sea from PSU to die in combat since 9/11; the first two were Lt. Michael Murphy USN/SEAL and Captain Todd Seibert, USMC.

    Bill left journalism after 9/11 to enlist in the Marine Corps at 4. He deployed to Iraq, fought in Fallujah and ran unsucessfully in the most recent PA Democrat primary in Pennsylvania. He was on his rd combat tour and left behind a wife pregnant with twins. He will be laid to rest at Arlington sometime next week.

    Thanks for everything that you do.

    Semper Fidelis.

    Thank you for pointing out that when it comes to the dirty work for country, for NATO , where ever we are sent Often Marines and Navy are the closest of brothers. I owe my life to a couple of marines and a couple of them owe me but we neveer look at it that way. We just find a way no matter what to bring our own home. I can't carry two Boston phone books very far anymore but I can still swim deep and far.

    Thanks for the rememberance of our unity.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    JBD · 12 years ago
    Aurora sikorskialis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave Anderson · 12 years ago
    "Kopp-Etchells Halo" could be an enduring extension of the Triboelectric effect which is noted in the embrionic Wikipedia listing for Kopp-Etchells Effect. Does it occur with single rotor choppers also or is it only apparent with twin rotor craft ? Your prose is a powerful tribute to the warriors and an inspiration for each of us -- thank you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    casstx · 12 years ago
    Thank you for your reports. These pictures are beautiful and this tribute is terribly touching. Excellent work, both photography and writing. I know you're headed for the Marines, and I hope you get a chance to head out sometime in the northeast with some SOF units. My man is there and your reports keep me closer to him. Thank you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Daniel · 12 years ago
    Thank you for the great photos- but more importantly, thank you for the heartfelt story, thank you for your service, and thank you for your tribute to the fallen.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Huddy04 · 12 years ago
    I have had nephews fight in Irag, and another three have completed tours in Afghanistan. I found out tonight after reading your article that a fourth is there now in harm's way. I regret that many people might see a cable headline or very small article about "4 soldiers killed in Helmand Province" and not realize these are real men and women. They are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, each one leaves a gapping hole in the hearts of dozens of people. The same thing occurs as we too often give a fleeting curiosity to a local story about a tragic automobile accident. We forget that these are real people. You have a gift for helping the rest of us to understand that they are our neighbors, our family, and friends that are out there protecting not just those of us at home, but helping the innocent souls who live these war torn countires. When I read your posts such as this one, I come away with a better understanding of what "honor" truly means. Thank you for your work.

    I will be starting a new job soon, my first since being unemployed for the past 2 months. I promise you a cut from my first paycheck. Thank you again.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rob Castellano · 12 years ago
    Amazing pictures and If this effect already has a name like some say I would say change it to honor these brave soldiers. Keep up the good work and stay safe. Thanks!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gordoun Flint · 12 years ago
    My step son is serving in the "embeded team" you write about in "no young soldiers". We worry constantly about him, but your conversations with him, reported by name and deed by you, were enlightening. We can only hope he comes home safe, but we know he works to keep you and his comrads safe at all times. You do an important and dangerous job, thank you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Will Nichols · 12 years ago
    As I sat here and read this article its really amazing to think of this effect that many have called St. Elmo's Fire for years being named something different based on what you have seen and experienced with the MEN that you are surrounded by each day. It is great to see a journalist/reporter talking about the human side of these soldiers. I thank each one of them not for me but for the willingness that each of them has to defend their friends in battle and their families as well. If not for this generation of heroes our children would have no one to look up to like I did with my grandfather and father from WW2 and Viet Nam.

    Stay safe Mr. Yon and keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Brownlee · 12 years ago
    I am so humbled and grateful for the sacrifices made by true British and American heros. Thank you Michael for your continued patriotic efforts to provide the truth to us who crave it. Stay safe, and keep your wits about you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe Marquez · 12 years ago
    Michael, I was forwarded this e-mail by a friend. I was touched by the poignant way in which you spoke of our warriors. Some of us maintain a brotherhood which transcends national boundaries. It is a solemn duty to go into battle with the objective of taking another man's life. Yet at times it must be done in order to stop the wanton destruction of those whose only crime perhaps, is being in the way. Evil is not contained by words alone. Men of action and determination have to stand against the monstrous attempts of men without conscience who use terror deliberately in order to achieve their ends. Early on in human history God gave men the responsibility to restrain, by force if necessary, the actions of the few that threaten the safety of the many. In every conflict against oppression, the contest becomes this. Will force used for evil intent prevail, or will it be overcome by force used for good. Having been a warrior, I understand what happens in deadly clashes between armed men on the battlefield. Bloodshed is ugly. I have keenly felt the anguish at the loss of friends, and a brother in Vietnam. My son, the Marine, follows in my steps, three tours in Iraq, now soon to Afghanistan. Will I mourn him as we now mourn those who gave their lives so far in this present conflict? I do not know. But I will not weaken his resolve by selfish attempts to deter him from doing his duty to his country, to humanity and yes, to his God. Those who desire peace at any price are naive at best and cowardly at worst. I honor those brave souls who refuse to sit on the sidelines with those who pretend that all's well with the world as long as it doesn't touch them. I raised my son, with his siblings on the mission field of Paraguay, in order to let him see the crying needs of a weary world. And to inspire him not only to see it but to do something about it. I am proud of him, and of those like him. Thank you for your efforts to give balance to the one sided reporting. Thank you for your willingness to stand in harm's way to give us a much needed perspective. May He who loves the brave watch over you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 12 years ago
    Thanks for putting the list of names up Michael. I am glad to see Captain Freeman's name there (Aug 7, 2009). He was a Marine. I went to his funeral, in Georgia, despite two airliners breaking down on my family and myself on our way there.
    Stay safe Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rick · 12 years ago
    Caught up in my own struggles it is easy to forget the sacrafices these young men make. It spite of the negative press we are very blessed to have dedicated warriors looking out for us, taking the fight to the enemy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peggy Miller · 12 years ago
    I pray for the troops every day. Thank you for the awesome pictures and story.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kathie Green · 12 years ago
    Michael, I paused to read your story on the fight in Afghanistan. Found the pics of our soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and then later the list of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice through their lives for our Country. My cousin, Alex J. Miller, is listed as he gave his life on July 1, 2009. God bless what you are doing in keeping us informed. May the Lord protect you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas Abella · 12 years ago
    Michael - thank you for all your work and sacrifice. Might I respectfully ask if anyone has thought to have some sort of tarp placed on the ground before a helo comes in; this would reduce the dust considerably. In fact, in one of your photos a tarp is draped over other supplies. One of these could removed and placed in the landing zone to reduce dust-ups. Again, thanks very much for your continued bravery and thanks to the bravery of our fighting forces in Afghanistan.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    in_awe · 12 years ago
    They are remembered by more than you might think.

    I live in Irvine, California where a grass roots group of citizens spontaneously crafted handmade memorial crosses in 200 to honor the fallen Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. For six years the number of crosses each bearing photographs, names, ranks, age, hometown and cause of death of the fallen heroes has increased. Each year my family and I attended the Memorial Day service to pay our respects; this year we decided to participate in the daily services from Memorial Day through July 5th.

    Each night a different group of people stopped by and helped replace and light 150 candles, one for each memorial. We had local citizens, but others came from several states and a handful of countries to pay their respects. It was common to see a veteran of the war on terror stop and quietly sit in front of a memorial and then leave. I can honestly say that it was among the most moving experiences of my life, to see the faces of all the fallen and hear their stories and honor them with the pledge of allegiance, a prayer and taps.

    The group of citizens is now working to create a permanent memorial on the same site that will have all the names etched in granite panels displayed in a beautiful setting. We hope to have it completed by next May. To read more about this effort go to and view the video about how it all started.

    If you wish to honor the fallen in your town, just do it. It doesn't require the government's permission or money, just gather a group of like minded neighbors and do it. Trust me you'll meet new friends and feel better for the effort. The testimonies of gratitude from the local Gold Star Families for remembering their children/siblings/parents will move you to tears.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jason · 12 years ago
    Michael, I have family members that have fought in almost every major conflict, war, excursion, or whatever you want to call it, from Vietnam on back to the Revolution. I confess that even with such a family tree, I find myself on again and off again following the war, and remembering our service members. Even typing the word "war" it has a tiresome feel to it, and this concerns me. God be praised for brave young lads such as these, and their sacrifices, too numerous to record, all on our behalf. We homebound citizens must be fierce to remember them, and fierce to honor them when we see them at home. God help us.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Tinsley · 12 years ago
    A friend and shipmate send me this article, my son John is listed on the 12th of August. He died doing what he knew to be the right for our country and family. I received the honor of reading his commisioning paperwork in 2002, and of him reading me my retirement orders in 2006, the first was in person, the last via speaker phone from Baghdad during his 2nd tour in support of the war on terror. To the survivors of all the father's,mothers, husbands, wifes, son's, daughters, brother's and sisters, I feel your loss, and do not believe it to be in vain.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Georgia Barbin · 12 years ago
    A friend whose son is an Army Ranger (he has served several tours in Afghanistan and elsewhere) sent me the funeral notice of Sgt. Alejandro Granado of Tatum, Texas. I think she tries to make sure that, while she knows she can't keep up with them all, the fallen heroes from our great state do not go unnoticed and their families and friends are not left feeling no one else mourns with them. We both signed his online memorial book; we both prayed for his family, as we do ALL our troops (joined by many others here in Galveston) and those of our allies. God protect and preserve you all; many blessings for your courage and dedication to duty. To you, Michael, thanks for keeping it immediate and real for us so that WE do not slack in our daily prayers. We help one another with reminders by email and such, but your reports bring home the urgency and necessity of undergirding our military men and women with the knowledge that they are constantly in the thoughts of many, and that they ARE appreciated. I linked to your blog from that of J.R. Rawles (, a former soldier who also keeps many aware of what is going on underneath the distractions of politics and the economy. Best wishes and prayers are coming your way, too.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bear · 12 years ago
    Only the best we have to offer serve to remove the tyrants. I appreciate all our young freedom fighting soldiers more than words alone can describe. The Kopp-Etchelles halo is a fitting name as these two and your story helped me to get back up and start fighting again. Apathy is not allowed ! We need our Veterans to return home safely and run for the House and Senate to displace the morons. You all are the real leaders so please return safely home to us . We will help you continue the fight asking people to vote for the men and women that understand. God Bless you all!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard John Purvis · 12 years ago
    This is one Canadian who is neither ungrateful nor ignorant. I honour the men and women from all Western nations who have taken up arms to defend civilization from Islam.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    capt bill · 12 years ago
    for Thomas Abella: I flew helos in Viet Nam for the Marine Corps. The idea of putting a tarp on the ground would never work. The downdraft under a landing Chinook is hurricane force winds. What you would get would be a disasterous crash as the tarp blows off the ground into the rotors. Better the halo effect and eroded rotor blades, which can be replaced.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Karlsruher · 12 years ago
    This takes me back to my time in Viet Nam as a Huey Crew Chief. Thanks for the dispatch Michael. God Bless our fighting forces who make the workd a better and safer place.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SFC K · 12 years ago
    Thanks for telling the story and adding honor to those that fought.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cathi L. · 12 years ago
    My brother teaches physics at a science & technology high school in the Washington, DC, area, and has received numerous awards for his work on science journals and teaching physics. I wrote to him about the Kopp-Etchells Effect and he agreed I could post his response: "Sure, you can quote me. One cannot know for sure without further testing and verification, but what I wrote would be my hypothesis (educated guess). I will ask my students this year if anyone wants to take this on as a research investigation."

    Here is his hypothesis:

    Hi Cathi,
    While it's useful to add additional nomenclature for a specific effect (e.g., Kopp-Etchells Effect for rotating helicopter blades in dust), it doesn't lead us to a complete explanation. These are amazing pictures, but I thought about a different effect given the nature of the sand crystals in the dust.

    Airplanes often accumulate electrostatic charge due to friction (triboelectric effect) as they move through the air or even due to static charge separated and accumulated by the air itself from rapid movement of wind (consider the spark that set off the fire in the Hindenburg disaster). This charge is usually dissipated at the sharpest points of the object where the electric fields are naturally highest (this is one reason we use lightning rods - sharp points to spray excess charge into the air). Most aircraft have such electrostatic charge dissipators built into their designs. If there were a buildup of charge beyond what the charge dissipation devices could handle then we would see sparks occurring from the tips of wings (or helicopter blades) as a coronal discharge or even a complete spark. It would look like miniature lightning or electrostatic glowing at the sharpest tips, but on the helicopter blade edges and tips.

    But these pictures seem to show a different effect. If you look closely, the glowing is not coming from the metal blades but from the dust itself. It exists in the dust AFTER the blade has passed. This would seem to suggest more of a piezo-electric effect. The piezo-electric effect occurs because crystals such as quartz (e.g., as found in sand and sand dust) are compressed from some kind of rapid impact (like being hit by a rapidly rotating helicopter blade) and cause excess electrostatic fields on the surface of each crystal, often thousands of volts, that can discharge right on the crystal. Piezo-electric crystals are today used in charcoal grill lighters and on most gas stove lighters. When you use a charcoal grill lighter you pull a trigger that slams an internal hammer against a crystal at the end of the lighter where a spark is generated to light the fumes coming from charcoal lighter fluid.

    From a blog in 200 :
    "Those aircraft are hovering, and those flashes of light are the sand particles emitting bright glows as they are disturbed. It is the piezoelectric effect, where a crystal makes a big energy shift when its crystal lattice is mechanically disturbed. This is the way a diamond record needle drives the sound into the amplifier. The goggles amplify about 40,000 times, so these very dim glows look like sparks. As an experiment, get fully dark adapted, then smash a sugar cube with a hammer. The glow is a shocking green!" (NickLappos, 27th April 200 , 05:25)

    The blog continued with one person suggesting that the effect may be caused by burning bits of metal being emitted by the helicopter blades like grinding metal from a high speed sander. But I think that those bits of metal would be thrown off the wings outward. These glowing particles seem to stay in place as the blade passes.


    If you are interested, I'll let you know if a student does take him up on this and what the results are.

    Thank you for all you do, Michael!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    R.E Smith · 12 years ago
    Outstanding photos without question & something none of us have seen in life.

    Mind you the loss of lives of Western World people seems to sensless considiering it will go back to Talibin, War Lords to Tribes.

    Regarding the CH-46 to CH-47 in Canada we call them Schnook choppers & have been the best ever. Fact is we have a lot more Ch-47 with some modifications on order here in Canada.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ian Wendt · 12 years ago
    Mr. Yon,

    I've read your blogs on and off for several years now. Your reporting has without a doubt been some of the most interesting and worthwhile coming out of the middle east. Thank you for the work you do. It's amazing and I'm sure, quite thankless.
    I just enlisted with the US Army as an 11X. I'll be shipping to BCT at the end of october. Ideally, my name will never show on the list of deceased, but if it does, I'd want you to report it. Nobody else comes even close to doing justice to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paula · 12 years ago
    A thousand times over I thank you for your dispatches and all that you do to bring the news on the front to us. Would be even better if your dispatches were picked up by any national/world network for a weekly brief. Hmm, wonder how I could get Refdesk to include your dispatches.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Troedson · 12 years ago
    Benjamin was from right here in Minnesota, I believe Rosemount, south of St. Paul. His funeral was huge. He had it at the same funeral home my wife had hers at, about 2 weeks later. I had no idea about the transplant though, it was not mentioned in the papers. My own son has volunteered to donate his organs upon death. It sort of shocked me. Heroes!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark Sales · 12 years ago
    I had your article forwarded to me and am very glad I took the time to read it. I flew UH-60's for years in the U.S. Army and have experienced the halo effect many times when doing night operations. It is particularly vivid when using a night vision device but can also be seen with the naked eye. I would often gaze at it with wonder when a number of aircraft were in line in front of me and there were numerous glowing rings. It is quite a sight. To answer an earlier post, yes, it also happens with single rotor helicopters.

    I remember hearing it called St. Elmo's Fire and also the piezoelectric effect but am fully behind the fitting name change proposed by you. To suggest a respectful and memorializing name to a building, a park, or in this case a common yet largely unknown effect is honorable. Thank you. And to all those who are spending many days of their lives fighting, and sometimes dying for the freedoms, dignity and lives of others, THANK YOU.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Adolf Hitler · 12 years ago
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Radical · 12 years ago
    They sacrefice their lifes... By in the name of what... Freedom? Or maybe money and corrupted politics? I'm really sorry for all those soldires who died in those stupid wars, but hey what do you expect when you assult someones country?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Rivenburg · 12 years ago
    After waiting for the tears to stop, I wanted to add a bit.
    The effect seen is very probably from little bits of quartz crystals in the dust getting hit by the rotor blades. When piezoelectric crystals deform they release very high voltage jolts of electricity. Piezoelectric quartz is very common.

    Michael yon is an incredible human being. I wish I had the nads to go where he goes. Keep the picture sharp on our boys & girls Michael, we are buoyed up by your reports, even as we grieve for the losses.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Debbie Alexander · 12 years ago
    Thank you for bringing the heroes into out homes via the internet. This certainly is information that major networks don't or won't report. Keep up the great work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Julie Davies, Jennie · 12 years ago
    We just want to thank you for this wonderful halo effect that has been created and named after Joey, we miss him so much, when we are on a low we look at this page and it puts a smile on our face.
    Joey will be missed everyday forever.
    Thank you
    Julie (Joey Fiance) and Jennie (Joey Sister) xxx
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Stafford · 12 years ago
    Michael Yon is a retro-reporter. What I mean by that is that he is a patriotic reporter/photographer the likes of which we have not seen since the Korean war. 'Modern' reporters seem to think it is a pre-requisite of the job to find fault with Americans, Brits, Canadians, et al. This is the first dispatch of Michael's that I have seen. I will subscribe, to be sure.

    Perhaps some business owners who read his posts would sponsor his efforts for a Public TV type plug i.e. "This post made possible by support from: Acme Widget & Gadgets, Smalltown, Anystate. Any takers? We need more Michael Yons and fewer NY Times reporters.

    Kudos to you, Michael, and to the patriots you write about and photograph.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard and Elizabet · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael. You are indeed a true patriot when there are so few in this global struggle. My wife and I are both American veterans of the 91 Persian Gulf War, and I returned from western Iraq just a couple of years ago. The Brits were hard and heavy in both wars and we will always remember their bravery and professionalism. Those fine traits are common among all the Coalition Forces in all fronts of the Global War on Terror. We won't be going to Afghanistan but we support our troops, and yours, and we support their efforts. God bless you in your efforts to bring home the truth when the media in both our countries bang their drums in support of their own agenda. God bless our warriors and grant them victory.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    kiwi · 12 years ago
    Piezoelectric effect for sure.Check for quatrz in the dust - or ask helo mechs how the turbine blades are wearing.
    Keep safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Russell-Blackb · 12 years ago
    Our yougest son has been told he is to go the the Afghan theatre within the next few months, he is the apple of his mothers eye, and a hero to his sisters, we are all petrified,. not just for him, but for all the fine and brave soldiers who are out fighting what we are told is the most major fight by the so called civillised West against terrorism, we that is the NATO led countrys have lost men in a pointless conflict to help get a vote for an already confirmed corrupt regime.

    Whenever I see a TV report of returning Soldiers who are carried with great ceremony through the village of Wotton Bassett, I am reduced to tears at the thought of the trauma the families of those Soldiers are being put through

    1000000 votes are not worth the life of one Soldier, from whatever Country, thank you Michael for your accurate and unbiased reports and stories and pictures regarding ALL the brave young Soldiers from all countries out there in the Afghan conflict.
    Peter Russell-Blackburn
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Viktor · 12 years ago
    I'm reading this , and can't help my self but I have to ask for what reason do you send your children to these God forsaken lands to fight and lose lives ? You can't establish democracy there , and they are no threat to your homes . I understand situation with Iraq ( i don't agree ) , but Afganistan ? They don't have oil, gold or something like that , only product from there is heroin , and production of that evil doesn't stop with coalition forces placed there .

    Anyway , I wish that your sons and daughters return home safe , and to have good lives. That they don't have to shot to anybody , and that nobody have to shot them . War is Hell on Earth , I know that much.

    Viktor , Croatia
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Roger Ek · 12 years ago
    It is St. Elmo's fire as the engineer stated above. I have seen it a few times. It occurs when there is very low humidity and there are particles in the air such as smoke or dust. The light is caused by static electricity discharges. I was a military helicopter pilot.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    WWW · 12 years ago
    This is a nice story to honor a fallen brother. The pictures are unique, thank you. Most important God Bless the Troops!!!!! The sacrifices that they make on a daily bases are not forgotten, and will always be in our hearts and prayers. I can't say anything else, that hasn't been already said. Ecept Thank You to all the Men and Women, protecting my rights as an American.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tom · 12 years ago
    Hi. Would you consider posting your Kopp-Etchells photos on the PPRuNe Rotorheads helicopter photo thread? They would be a great addition to the biggest collection of helicopters at work photos on the net.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ben Trapnell / Prior · 12 years ago
    Not to diminish the intent of the story, I believe the "effect" in question is actually known as "St. Elmo's Fire. The name was coined by early sailors.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff James · 12 years ago
    The effect can't be completely piezoelectric because it dissipates when the helo's ramp is dropped. The ramp acts as a giant grounding (earthing for you in the UK) rod.

    Regardless, from today on, it's the Kopp-Etchells effect. As an aside, you haven't lived until you've seen a baby Second Lieutenant decide things aren't moving fast enough during a sling load operation and grab the hook with a bare hand. A secondary presentation of the Kopp-Etchells effect can be seen when the young officer's eyes go wide, his hair stands up and he makes a sound something like, "SHEEIIIGGGGGUUUBBBBBBUUUUBBBBUUUUUUBBBBB!" It keeps happening and it's never going to get old.

    New year is coming up and I'm going to launch a few rockets for Etch and Koop. They and the others on the list have gone into my memorial and get a shot lifted when ever I get a chance.

    Thank you, Michael
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Serge Simard · 12 years ago
    What's wrong with Fire Blades?

    Keep it simple. Works for me.

    Simplistic? Who cares?

    Michael, you have my respect, sir. I'm a civilian, not tested under fire and you hold the job I'd dream of having.

    I'm just not worthy.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry R Brooks · 12 years ago
    Beautiful pictures but I'm so very sorry they were taken in a place that is not worth a the death of one US (or our allies) service person. I agree with a previous writer that the halo's are most probbaly Saint Elmo's Fire. I have seen it on helicopter blades at night while flying in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil industry. Temperature and humidity affect the display's effects. Sometimes the "fire" will appear to "drip" or jump from around from place to place.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    PavePilot · 12 years ago
    As a current pilot of one of the Pedros from your "Voter" article, the descriptions from PhilMB and CathiL sound most accurate. They are also correct that this is not St. Elmo's Fire. Although I have not yet been to the desert (departing in the spring), stories of the blade-erosion and resulting "show of sparks" caused by the rocky dust/dirt are well documented in our community. Believe it or not, it can be bright enough to degrade the performance of NVGs under certain conditions. Regardless, I have never heard a specific name for it and I will begin to use the Kopp-Etchells Effect in hopes that it will spread, at least among Air Force helo guys. Best of luck!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lloyd Wilson · 12 years ago
    Thank you for your service and spread that thanks. It is sad that every generation has to loose so many of it's strongest and best. And the ignorant and ungrateful live on and reproduce here at home.

    There are a lot of us who ARE grateful to you ALL.

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Many methods are available to keep the work rolling. Click the image for a more info.



Quick Link to Paypal

Recurring Donation

QR Code

QR Code


To support using Venmo, send to:


My BitCoin QR Code

Use the QR code for BitCoin apps:


Or click the link below to help support the next dispatch with bitcoins: