Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thinking about helicopters.

The White-lined Sphinx, photos of which I've already posted last week, on first approach looks like a hummingbird and is thus often called a Hummingbird Moth.  They, and the bees, wasps, and hover flies also can conjure up images of helicopters.  So, today I'm thinking about helicopters for several reasons besides the moth image.  For one, my youngest son works at a machine shop at the airport servicing and rebuilding vintage rotary aircraft engines.  He and I see helicopters taking off and landing at the airport daily.  Some are doing fire protection work and others are on medical missions.  I have seen no signs that suggest any of them are being used recreationally.
Meanwhile, a decision by our county planning department has come to my attention.  The decision seems to me absurd.  First it amounts to denying the fact that a "heliport" is a class of "airport."  I have found no definition of "airport" that indicates heliports are not included.  Second, the claim of certain wealthy parties in Genessee Valley, separated from Quincy by a mountain range, are trying to get permitted to establish a base for helicopters for agricultural use.  The Genessee Valley has been loved by residents and visitors alike for many many years specifically because of its beauty and quietude.  The people applying for helicopter use in this valley obviously have no respect for the wishes or explanations of the residents.  The permission has been granted, but I hope the fight is not over.  Among other things, the relationship of this issue to my usual musings in natural history has to do with the practice of naming things.  What's in a name?  How broad is the definition of "agricultural use"?  Is it important that a distinction is made between "heliport" and "airport" and by extension the rules governing each?  In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, did it matter whether one was a Montague or a Capulet?  Has my life in the USA been different due to inheriting my father's last name, Willis, rather than my mother's, which was Scalabroni?  Does it matter when a certain plant is called Bindweed rather than Orchard Morning Glory?  Does it matter whether various raptors are called by their specific AOU names as types of hawks, eagles, and owls, or called buzzards - along with the vultures?  Genessee Valley, R. I. P.

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