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2012 December 24, Monday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

UPDATE ON THE SINK HOLE IN BAYOU CORNE!

19 weeks after our first flyover August 13 (see those photos and videos here), and we are seeing quite a different situation!
The trees that were just starting to be impacted by a small pool of liquid are no longer visible at all, and the hole itself looks at least twice as large in diameter as it was back in August. But everywhere the water levels seem higher, so it's hard for us to tell whether the dramatic sight change is because the sinkhole has really grown so much larger or everything is covered more by water than it was last August. In any case, it's not a pretty sight, and homes in the vicinity do not look like they'll be homes again anytime soon.

Check out these paired photos -- the ones on the left were taken last August 13, 2012; the ones on the right were taken today, December 24, 2012, a bit longer than four months later.


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See the rest of the article and photos and video here!

2012 December 23
Kernville, California USA

Sheba (aka "Cosette" when we first rescued her) was no ordinary dog, no ordinary rescue. When we pulled her from the San Pedro shelter in June 2011, she was by all rescuers' accounts a dog with the least potential for recovery to a normal, happy, functioning life. The staff at the shelter begged us to rescue other more adoptable dogs and let them just put this one out of her misery. We promised to send other rescuers to them for the others. We saw a deep longing in this severely lame, autistic, malnourished older female yellow shepherd covered with scars and ticks, and we could not turn our backs on her. She had been found chained on concrete in a back yard of a poor section of the city. She had clearly been the object of considerable abuse, including sodomy. She wanted no one anywhere near her back side, and one of her rear legs stuck straight out to the side and seemed to be almost useless to her. (Photos and that part of her story are in our original article about "Cosette.")

Once she knew I meant her no harm, she let me touch her hindquarters. And she smiled when I carried her out into the sunshine and grass that first day. That did it for me. Underneath that scruffy, dirty coat and bony body, she had the face of an angel and eyes that were ancient. Her silence and reserve were not offensive or disappointing. They spoke of dignity and a will to survive and move beyond the past, a gentleness that made her wary but still able to trust and forgive, with no inclination to punish or be aggressive. When I lifted her beside me into the right front seat of my car, her face glowed with joy and expectation. I had no idea what we would do with her, but I knew we needed to try to give her a life.

We carried her to our home, which involved negotiating a very steep walking path. She loved her new diet of raw food (mostly chicken with some raw milk, eggs, and the flax-based supplement Missing link). She was able to walk pretty well within just a few days. But to find a good permanent home for her was going to be a huge challenge.  One of On Wings Of Care's stalwart volunteers and directors, Dave, came to visit her. Dave was dad to a wonderful long-haired rescue shepherd named "Bear" and two rescue cats, but we didn't seriously consider that he could adopt Cosette, as she seemed too much for him to take on. But Cosette felt differently. When he lay down next to her and began massaging her, her body and eyes and heart just melted for him. I assured him that he needn't consider adopting her, we totally understood why she would be just too much for him, and we left it at that. But as he was leaving, he said "Well, maybe she could just hang out with Bear and me for a while to recover, you know, until we find a good adopter?" My heart jumped. YES! You bet she could! I loaded him up with fresh frozen ground chicken and other good food for her, and he and Bear took her up to their home in the southern Sierra foothills.

See all the photos and read the full story here!

2012 December 14, Friday
Angeles National Forest, California

Rescuing, repairing, and raising orphaned wildlife is a very great privilege, undertaken by a rare breed of humans. We've joked before with our fellow dog- and cat-rescuers and admitted that dog rescuers are "wimps" compared to cat rescuers, because cat rescuers tolerate delayed gratification and unrequited love, whereas dog rescuers get immediate thanks and a fan club.  (:--)) But wildlife rehabbers -- now these humans are the deepest and most selfless of all. Why? Well, take someone who rescues and raises orphan raccoons.

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See all the photos, videos, and read the full story here!  

 

2012 December 08, Saturday
Porterville, CA to Hillsboro, OR

The folks in Porterville, CA -- like many other crowded animal shelters in central California -- find themselves over-run with orphaned, abandoned, and injured dogs every day of the year. They never stop doing everything they can to find them homes or fosters before their allowed time in the shelter runs out. But finding homes and fosters is only one challenge. Getting all the dogs there is another.

Happily, people in the colder northern states love the small dogs that abound in California! Maybe it’s because these small dogs don’t require long walks in the sub-freezing weather, or because they love nothing better than to hang out indoors with their humans? Who knows, but thankfully, there are many people in the northwest who are delighted to adopt the many small dogs who find themselves lost and homeless in California. So we at On Wings Of Care do all we can to help get them there!

During our rescue transport flight back to California from Texas on December 6, we received a frantic phone call from our friends at Porterville. They said that their previous plans to fly 71 of their dogs to Oregon, Washington, and northern California were falling through, and that if the dogs didn’t go by that weekend, their time would be up. (Think “euthanasia.”) Among these were 40-45 smaller dogs and about 25 medium-sized dogs. “Whew!” we said, “That’s a lot of dogs and crates!” They had expected at least four large planes to do the transport, but chronic bad weather and various other problems had interfered.  Now the only option being offered was that if Porterville would drive at most 28 dogs in individual carriers to San Jose, each dog freshly bathed and clean, the dogs could hitch a ride in the cargo bay of a jet that was returning to its home base in Hillsboro, OR. We acknowledged with sympathy the near-impossible challenge of immediately bathing 28 shelter dogs and finding vans and drivers to take them to San Jose, but asked -- “What about the other 43 dogs??”  Well, that’s why they were calling us, they said.  But FORTY-THREE dogs?

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See the video, rest of the photos, and read the whole story here!  

2012 December 06, Thursday
Georgetown, TX to southern California

Little Squee was supposed to be a big healthy ball of fur kept warm and happy by her mom and fellow New Foundland pups. But it didn’t work out that way for her. She found herself alone, hungry, and eventually so malnourished that her fur started to fall out and her skin hurt terribly.  You’ll know what poor little Squee felt like If you’ve ever had a painful rash like poison oak, where your skin felt dry and stiff and sensitive, and then imagine feeling that over your entire body and being all alone in the world, too.

Some rescuers in Texas found her back in October and knew just what she needed, and they didn’t waste a moment giving it to her. The treatment for mange is not fun, not for the dog and not for the people giving the treatment. But these wonderful folks knew what they were doing, and even though Squee didn’t look cuddly or cute, she soon learned how good it feels like to be held and cuddled and loved, and the healing began. By the end of November, Squee’s own beautiful black fur had started to grow again, thick and luxuriant.  Her little body was growing plump, her eyes were starting to sparkle, and she was indeed looking like the big dog her paws promised she would be.

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See the other photos and read the full story here!  

2012 December 05 Wednesday
Southern California to Dallas and then Georgetown, TX

This flight home for Blackie has been in the making for several months. Since his best friend and human partner Tammy suffered a very serious injury from a passing truck in California last August, he had not seen or heard her or anyone else he had known and loved in his first five years of life, and life seemed to have turned a corner to bleakness. There was one bit of light and warmth, however, which came from some kind and perceptive animal handlers at the shelter in Kern County, CA, outside of Bakersfield. Despite Blackie being a well-muscled and strong, intact young male pitbull with some evidence of scars on his face, they saw right off that he was also a gentle, stable, sound soul who meant no harm to anyone. So while Tammy spent months in hospital critical care, Blackie spent months in the Kern County shelter.

He became a shelter favorite, in fact. When we went to visit him in November, he was out in the grassy play area chasing tennis balls and rolling on the grass -- with children! We even brought one of our dogs, an aussie-terrier male, to see how Blackie would be with other dogs -- looking ahead to flying him with some other canine passengers in order to take him back home to Texas when it was time. We need not have worried!  Blackie could be a poster dog for pitbulls!  He had no pent-up negative emotions or behaviors whatsoever.  He was clearly a dog who had known much love, probably only love, and now that he had suddenly been separated from his human, he wanted only to be a courteous guest and to try to be happy until his human could find him again.

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Read the rest of the story and see all the photos and joyful reunion videos here!   

2012 December 02, Sunday
Macondo area, Gulf of Mexico

Since our November 9th flyover of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead and our publishing of the large surface oil slick there, BP has announced plans to begin further investigation of the wreckage and seafloor in that area, beginning tomorrow, December 3. Since the weather was perfect today and seas calm, we made a quick flight to see how things look out there, now three weeks since our Nov 9th flyover.  We were surprised to find a new drilling platform sitting almost right over the wellhead, and a large drillship also in the vicinity. We were dismayed to find many large surface slicks in the area, as well as some new ones along the eastern coast of Louisiana south of Black Bay. And of course it's unfortunately no surprise anymore to see the large, chronic Taylor Energy oil slick that has plagued the southern tip of Louisiana since 2004.

The new platform that has appeared over the Deepwater Horizon wellhead bears the name "ENSCO 8502." There was a fairly large slick about 2 miles northeast of it (photo on the left below), about 2 nm long and about 100 m wide.  But an even larger slick extended northwest almost directly from the new platform -- this one almost 2 sq nm (4 sq km) in size. In the maps below, the point marked "04221" is almost directly over the wellhead. The ENSCO platform was at the point marked "04381."  (As always, high-resolution photos are available upon request. Here, photos in the galleries below will show up in a larger view when they are selected individually.)

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In the first video below, you'll see the smaller of the above two slicks for the first 45 seconds, after which we pan to the ENSCO 8502 platform and the larger slick adjacent to it. There is another slick about 1 nm to the east, which is about the same size as the smaller one to the north (see photo on right below). Finally, there was yet another slick south of here, which was about 1 nm long (north-south) and about 50 m wide (no photo of that one is shown here).

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About 10 nm south of the ENSCO 8502 platform and the wellhead, we found a large mobile drillship named "ENSCO DS-3" with two supply boats -- the C Legacy and the Jack Edwards.  A small oil slick was adjacent to this drillship running westward about 500 m, about 10 m in width.  Another 2 nm farther south was a working BP platform "MC474A", which was flaring and which also had a small slick extending westward from it, about the same size, roughly 500 m in length and about 10 m wide.  A video showing this platform is included below.

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See all the photos and videos and read the full article here!

2012 November 14 Wednesday
Barrier Islands, Gulf of Mexico

We have long wanted to help some local photographers and artists give us all some current aerial views of the Gulf Coast's extraordinary and unique Barrier Islands. As time passed, holidays approached, and travel plans grew more complicated, a few of us decided we should make a "recon" flight as soon as possible. Last night, it looked like today might be nearly perfect for it. We had good weather with fairly calm seas, a chance to put one of our favorite local artists (John Anderson) in the front seat, and two avid local photographers from Mississippi -- Terese Collins and Don Abrams -- who were eager to come along. Despite a late start and non-ideal light conditions, we captured some stunning sights. But Terese and Don also managed to achieve another end, which historically might prove as precious as their beautiful photographs: their photos show an almost shocking contrast between the natural and breathtakingly beautiful islands south of Mississippi -- Cat, Ship, Horn, and the Chandeleurs -- and the highly developed Dauphin Island surrounded by oil and gas platforms, barges, and dredging vessels.

All of the photos you'll see here are available to the public in high-resolution form for a small donation that will be shared by the photographers and On Wings Of Care to help cover our costs. Contact us with the filenames of the photos you want, and we'll arrange for the electronic or other transfer of them.  If you'd like an aerial tour for yourselves, we can help arrange for that, too, at a very reasonable cost.

Here is a map of our flight, and a few photos (courtesy of Don) of John and Bonny in the front seat and of Terese working through one of the back photo-windows.  These are followed by some of our favorite photos, separated into the following areas:  Horn Island, Ship Island (east and west), Cat Island, the Chandleurs, Petit Bois and Dauphin Island, and the Gulf Coast (including Deer Island and the coastline east of Gulfport).  Following these favorites are galleries of more photos for each of these areas.  Finally, we have some videos shot through our "belly viewer" -- a true bird's eye view looking nearly straight down, of the Chandeleurs and Ship Island.  ENJOY!

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See the photos, videos, and read the rest of the information here!  


2012 November 17, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico - Black Elk Platform

The report came in before 10 am CST Friday Nov 16 -- another explosion at an oil platform in the Gulf, only about 20 nm offshore from Grand Isle, Louisiana. A total of 11 people were flown by helicopter to area hospitals, several of whom were in critical condition. An oil sheen about 200m by 0.5 nm in size was said to be present on Friday, but on today’s flight we did not see significant surface oil in the vicinity.

On Wings Of Care was contacted immediately on Friday and asked to do a flyover. Here are photos and videos taken this morning of the area and the platform on which the explosion occurred, including an unidentified platform discharging smoke a few miles east of the Black Elk platform. The GPS coordinates of the Black Elk platform and a nearby unidentified platform are given at the bottom of this article, and our detailed GPS flight tracks can be downloaded here.

According to the NRC report, the fire and resulting explosion resulted from contractors performing maintenance.  In the course of replacing a skimmer, they used a torch to cut into a 3-inch diameter, 75-foot line coming from a wet oil tank, a line designed to hold about 28 gallons of oil. Apparently the line had not been purged completely before they cut it.

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Read the article and see the photos and videos here!



2012 November 08, Thursday
East of Dallas, TX

The “Keystone XL” pipeline would connect the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to oil refineries along the U.S. Gulf coast, stretching about 1700 miles through six states. This proposed project has received enormous opposition from citizens concerned about climate change. Regardless of the causes of global climate change, it is a well established fact that continued unsustainable release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane will aggravate and accelerate so-called “global warming” and its attendant deleterious and widespread changes such as increased droughts, wildfires, violent storms, and floods.

Greenhouse gases are released in many ways, some of them involving natural processes out of our control, such as volcanoes, and some entirely within our control, such as the burning of “fossil fuels” like coal and oil. Fossil fuels are ancient carbon that has been sequestered in the earth for millennia -- in soils, oceans, lakes, forests, and so on.  Burning fossil fuels removes this sequestered carbon and releases it to the atmosphere. Tar sands are essentially a very unrefined source of oil. The amount that this pipeline alone could remove from the earth through energy production would add 240 gigatons of carbon to our atmosphere. The physics of our atmosphere is understood well enough that scientists have predicted with certainty that if we release more than about 565 more gigatons into our atmosphere, our planet will no longer be livable for known existing oxygen-breathing species.

This pipeline and the use of tar sands encourages our continued dependence on oil and other fossil fuels for energy production. Many people argue that our efforts and finances should go toward developing “greener,” environmentally sustainable  energy sources. It is eminently sensible for us to earnestly pursue sustainable energy sources whose use does not cause dangerous pollution to the atmosphere, to our freshwater sources or oceans, or to our soils.  It need not be necessary in the foreseeable future to cease all use of fossil fuels; but their use, along with any other practices that cause the release of carbon into our atmosphere, must be balanced by practices that sequester carbon. Very fortunately for us, the most efficient ways that humans can sequester organic carbon have attendant beneficial consequences such as sustained health and fertility of agricultural soils, rivers, lakes, oceans, and forests!  Science has proven that time-honored principles such as respect for the earth and all of her lifeforms, cooperation with nature, sustainable agricultural and forestry practices, moderation of our impact, and harmonization with and protection of biodiversity, are salutary for us all in the longterm.

To return to the Keystone XL Pipeline: While returning to the Gulf coast last week from the west coast in our small, fuel-efficient, low-and-slow airplane, we flew southeastward from Dallas, TX toward New Orleans, LA.  We were surprised to discover that a considerable degree of construction of this pipeline has already been completed, despite the project not yet having received government approval! (“Did our taxes pay for this?” we wondered.) We pulled out our small videocamera and recorded what we saw.

Here we share with you our brief “look from above” at  this pipeline -- what it looks like, and the kind of countryside it will permeate.  Even aside from the question of continuing to burn fossil fuels, seeing this beautiful countryside made us ask ourselves, with dread:  are we certain we want to bring these polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which are toxic to oxygen-breathing life, through the midst of our agricultural soils, prairies, forests,  and rivers?

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Read the article and see the photos and videos here!

2012 November 10, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico -- East Bay, Taylor, Macondo to Green Canyon

No two days of flying in the Gulf of Mexico are the same.  Yesterday we reveled in smooth seas and mostly clear skies, with excellent lighting and visibility for seeing surface oil slicks.  Today, winds were picking up, seas were growing choppy, and the sky was mostly overcast, making for very poor lighting and visibility for surface oil slicks.  But today was the day that our scientific colleagues were able to make it from Florida State University for a flight, with all of their sophisticated observing instruments.  And even though we didn’t get photographic footage that would impress the untrained eye, we obtained some valuable scientific information.

For starters, we located the source of a substantial oil leak in East Bay, just off the coast of Louisiana.  Our report to the US Coast Guard resulted in the responsible company promising to repair it immediately.

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Next, we showed our colleagues the infamous chronic Taylor Energy slick. Despite the very poor lighting, the enormous expanse of this oil slick was still obvious, and our belly cameras saw plenty of the telltale rainbow lines and patches of oil.  We have a youtube video below to show you an example of what our belly cameras saw while flying over the Taylor Energy slick.

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We joined our colleagues aboard the R/V Falkor again out at the infamous Deepwater Horizon wellhead in that section of the Gulf known as MC252 (Mississippi Canyon block number). Dr. Ian MacDonald and his colleagues had been working nonstop since yesterday when we had used our aerial vantage point to lead their small sampling boat around the slick yesterday, and they had learned much. Today we left them a small care package with some equipment they needed, and they told us that they had succeeded in tracking the sub-surface plumes to a source that appeared to be in some salt domes a mile or two east-northeast of the wellhead.  They had also explored the wellhead carefully and found it to be free of active leaks. Quotes from Dr. MacDonald can be found in our update to yesterday’s article, here. Our reports of this new and significant slick in MC252 have resulted in the US Coast Guard requesting that BP carry out another more careful investigation to determine the source of this surface oil, which investigation will include a careful survey of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon.  We look forward to learning more from these future careful surveys, and hope that scientists do not find evidence for widespread damage to the seafloor.

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From here, we flew nearly 200 miles southwest to the “Green Canyon” area of the Gulf, where there are other known natural oil seeps of considerable size. Along the way, we revisited “MC709”, a natural seep site that had shown plenty of oil in yesterday’s flight.  Despite today’s poor visibility, it was not difficult for our trained eyes and looking from above to see these natural seeps. As signifcant as they are, notice how subtle they are compared to the human-caused oil slicks:

Read the article and see all the photos and videos here!  

2012 November 09, Friday
Gulf of Mexico, MC252 and vicinity

UPDATED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 11, 2012!  SEE BELOW IN RED!

We weren't supposed to see any more surface oil lingering around the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred over two years ago in 2010 April, were we? Well, today we did.  So did the scientists aboard the research ship Falkor, both underwater with their scientific instruments and on the surface with their small boat and sampling equipment. It was impossible to miss this large slick, located within a mile of the site of the DWH incident. It is quite a bit larger than known natural seeps within 20 miles of this vicinity. We did not see the thick rainbow sheen we saw here last October 05, so we hope that implies some progress in finding and arresting any leakage left from the DWH incident.  But this large slick rivals the largest of natural seeps we've seen and documented in the Gulf, and it is outdone in its horror only by the chronic Taylor Energy pollution monster off the southeast tip of Louisiana.

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See the photos and videos and read the full article (with updates!) here!  

2012 October 06 Saturday
Gulf of Mexico

Today’s was one of our favorite kinds of flights -- looking for whale sharks!  October is usually the end of the season for finding many of them in the Gulf of Mexico.  But scientists don’t really know much about where whale sharks go and when, and people like us have only been finding them from the air for a little over two years, so every flight is a new search, and we stay on alert the entire time.  This time of year is when we especially find them near large active bait balls, where the big tuna are jumping, too.  Today was no exception.

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Read the full article and see all the photos here!  

2012 October 5, Friday
Gulf of Mexico

MORE PHOTOS from Oct 05 ADDED TODAY! (20121016) -- See Below
(and download our GPF flight tracks here!)

Today we flew a long and carefully planned route over Gulf of Mexico waters south of Louisiana, in order to look for surface oil slicks.  We had planned the flight for Sep 17, but weather and travel forced us to delay til today.  The route would cover 22 known sites, all based on our previous sightings and known natural seeps, including three recently reported sights, and of course that area of chronic interest -- MC252 and surroundings, home to BP's infamous well and the Macondo reservoir. We found what we were looking for, and much that we had hoped not to find.

In short -- the natural seeps remain, some of them narrow lines of "pancakes" of oil and some of them wide areas of shimmering surface slicks. Pollution cleanup debacles like the chronic Taylor Energy site less than 15 miles off the coast of Louisiana remain, egregious sites covering miles and miles, and flowing substantially still, as evidenced by the heavy patches of rainbow sheen.  What we did not expect was to see that kind of rainbow sheen and substantial amounts of fresh-looking oil around the Macondo reservoir. But find it we did.

The stuff within a few miles of MC252 looked like this (GPS waypoints 0411, and a slick between waypoints 0415 and 0416 from our flight log below):

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(That's our nose wheel in these still photos taken from the video camera that looks slightly forward from a belly viewer in our plane, which we view and control via a remote monitor.)  A video of what we saw in this area is included below.

Here is a large-scale map of our planned route (pink) and our actual flight path (blue), together with a close-up of the eastern part of our route (near the Macondo).  We went first to the site of the chronic Taylor Energy oil leak south of Breton Sound, then to the vicinity of MC252 and the DWH disaster of 2010, then southwestward nearly 175 nautical miles to check out locations of known natural seeps and of recently documented surface oil slicks, then headed back to Lakefront Airport via Grand Isle, LA.

As you know from our previous articles, our actual flights go where "the stuff" is, so the actual paths are usually circles and spirals and meandering paths that track the oil or the animals or whatever it is that we're tracking.  You can read from these actual paths almost as clearly as you can from our GPS waypoints, just where "the stuff" was.  The actual GPS coordinates are given in our Flight Log appended below.

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Here is a short video of the oil seen near the Macondo.  This rainbow sheen was seen within a few miles of the site of the 2010 BP disaster; the slick was at least one nautical mile (2 km) long and on average about 400-500 meters wide. This video was taken from a small video camera looking through the belly of our plane, at between 800' and 1000' above the water.  The small narrow line of oil you see at the end of the video is the way sites of known natural seeps tend to look (except for some which cover much wider areas of surface).  The rainbow nature of this slick suggests a much more substantial flow of oil than is associated with most of these natural seeps.  (See, e.g., the photo of the natural seep in Green Canyon, about 175 miles southwest of here.)  Many more photos can be found in the galleries below.

Read the full article and see many more photos and videos here!  

 

2012 October 2
Geneseo, IL to Baton Rouge, LA

It's an inspiration when so many people work together to bring about a miracle like this one. The victim was "Miss T'Chen", a young female 40-lb rat terrier who lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with her human father Fred who adores her and two big strapping young canine boys (black lab mixes) who worship her as their matriarch.  She went out the front door of their home after dark just as the heavy rains of Hurricane Isaac hit the front yard in full fury, and in the confusion and flooding, she could not find her way back home.  Most people had evacuated the area, and it was impossible for Fred to search for her during the hurricane.  Some time later the next day, a flood rescue worker in the area found her.  With no power or phone service and many roads closed, there was no place open where the kind man could take her, so he opted to take her home with him in his truck -- all the way to Geneseo, Illinois, some 800 miles north!  There she received the best of tender loving care from the folks at Henry County Animal Shelter, as they searched the web and Facebook and by all other means they could think of to find her home.

Meanwhile, Miss T'Chen's daddy Fred was desperate. How regrettable that he had not had an ID chip implanted in her! He reported her missing to the local animal shelter, and they uploaded her picture and description to a Facebook page of dogs missing from Hurricane Isaac.  The folks at Geneseo spotted this and recognized her, and they made the connection to Fred. That was about two weeks after Isaac.  After the relief of knowing she was alive and well (but 800 miles away), now the challenge was how to get Miss T'Chen home!

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Read the article and see all the photos and videos here!

2012 September 30
Texarkana, AR to Indianapolis, IN

"Skip" is one of the coolest dogs we've ever met. An "English Shepherd" he is  -- we didn't even know there was such a special breed. And there's a special rescue organization for them -- NESR (National English Shepherd Rescue). The care these folks took in finding Skip a new foster when he needed it was amazing. But part of the proof is that they called On Wings Of Care to transport him as safely and comfortably as possible! We were all set to fly him to his great new foster Frank in Indianapolis the weekend of September 29-30, as those were the dates that worked best for his current and future foster and for us. Mother Nature had other plans, as she placed horrendous storms along our flight path that weren't going to let up for days. But Skip's current foster needed to leave, and Skip needed to move. What else could we do? We decided we would bring along our two senior dogs Ford and Tilly (who love a car ride, or plane ride, or any kind of ride!) and we would all enjoy a road trip in our Prius. (That photo on the right is Skip's new foster siblings and dad!)

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Read the article and see all the photos and videos here!

2012 September 24-25, Monday-Tuesday
7 dogs and 51 cats transported to Oregon, Idaho, and California

Cat rescuers are a very special kind of people. While dog rescuers typically work with several dogs at a time, cat rescuers seem to always be working with several tens of cats at a time! Cat House on the Kings of central California and Simply Cats of Boise, Idaho are no exceptions. When Lynea Lattanzio of the Cat House first proposed this transport flight to me, I expected we would be transporting the usual number of cats that we typically fit comfortably into our single-engine plane ‘Bessie”  -- between 25 and 35. But when I told Lynea that Bessie was down for repairs after Hurricane Isaac and that the plane I thought I could rent out in California for a long-distance transport was a twin-engine Cessna, she was pleased no end, because that meant we could take about 50 cats and maybe seven to ten small dogs, too!  And it turned out that she was right.

Seven of the cutest small dogs I’ve ever seen -- whose breeds I could not identify but surely spanned at least 10 varieties -- met us at Reedley airport in central California around 11 am on Monday.  Along with them were 46 cats and kittens, in about 20 crates.  Way too many large crates even for this hefty, emptied-out airplane. Time for Plan B! We picked out the largest and tallest crates, and began deciding where we could place the cats inside them, among the remaining smaller crates.  Then we took all of the crates into the airport office, where we could accomplish these transfer in a closed area. No worries, though, the cats were immensely docile and tolerant of the whole process.  They didn’t even protest at being a good bit more crowded then they had been at the start.  We got the total number of crates down to 16, and filled the airplane cabin to the gills. All fit -- except one dog crate. So “Spam”, an adorable little  golden-colored long-haired something-or-other, would ride with just a leash and could sit between out seats, in front of the crates and behind our chart box.

We planned to head directly for Hillsboro, OR, to drop off the seven dogs first. Then to Boise with the 46 cats. Because we had gotten such a late start, we decided to spend the night in Boise. The next morning, the plan was to bring five unadoptable cats back from Boise to live out their lives in sanctuary at the Cat House.  They also wanted us to bring back some donated cat food. So every leg of this transport would be full and put to  good use.

Within ten minutes of our smooth departure from Reedley, northbound for Oregon, Spam decided the only place for him was on my lap....

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See the rest of the photos and videos and read the article here!  

2012 September 21-23, Friday-Sunday
20 Dogs to Calican Rescue in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Rescuing homeless dogs is a multi-step process. It is not enough to get them off the street or out of abusive situations, nor is it enough to give them food and water and a kennel somewhere.  Some dogs need help to forget troublesome “issues” they’ve developed as a result of abuse, but a vast majority of dogs in need present no issues -- they are healthy, sociable, lovable and eminently adoptable. All they need is a human family who longs to receive their lifelong love and loyalty!  And there are plenty of those.  The challenge is to help the dogs and the families find each other.  On Wings Of Care volunteers and our wide network of fellow animal rescuers help with all of these steps, and we especially love to use our networking and flying capabilities to complete this final step of bringing dogs and humans together.

This past weekend brought to fruition the long-planned transport of 20 small dogs to Alberta, Canada, where eager adopters awaited their new canine family members.  Kari and Rene of Calican Rescue out of Edmonton, Alberta have been uniting Canadian families with wonderful dogs in California whose time in shelters has run out, giving both dogs and families treasures for life.  There is no shortage of highly adoptable small dogs in California, where thousands meet tragic fates of euthanasia every week, only because their pitifully short time available to them in animal shelters has run out.

We’ve made these flights before, but this trip brought some unexpected challenges -- not from the dogs, but from logistics....

Read about this adventure, and see the photos and videos here!  

2012 September 14, Friday
Gulf of Mexico, 50-150 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA

he R/V Endeavor (a UNOLS vessel operated by the University of Rhode Island) has been busy in the Gulf off of Louisiana again, studying natural and not-so-natural oil seeps and the status of the ocean floor.  They contacted us a few days ago to advise us that they found themselves sitting in a surface oil slick, in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) "spill" site of April 2010.  Today was the first day we could arrange to fly out there, and yes, we did indeed find oil slicks in that good old MC252 quadrant.  We hope to learn from their samples whether the surface oil there is from long-existing natural seeps, or whether it is from the reservoir that unleashed its contents just 2.5 years ago.

Here are the maps of today's 3.9-hour flight.  We flew to the DWH site via Breton Sound, to check out some suspiciously slick-looking areas according to MODIS satellite data.  We didn't stop to look around carefully, but we didn't see any obvious surface oil in this area. But what was unusual was how high the water seemed to be. The usual islands were scarcely visible. Fortunately, we had heard that the tides were unusually high today, so we were relieved not to have to think that this situation was some permanent consequence of Hurricane Isaac...

2012 September 09, Sunday
Plaquemines Parish and Lafourche Parish, south and southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana

Hurricane Isaac may have taken our plane, but he didn't take our eyes.  We rented a friend's "Fun Wifty-Two" (Cessna 152), a small two-seat high-wing airplane, and set out to take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in some parts of coastal Louisiana. Since this little plane didn't have enormous fuel capacity (and she's pretty slow, too), we restricted ourselves to northern parts of Plaquemines Parish around the Mississippi River and the new levee boundaries, and then southward through Barataria Bay to Grand Isle and west to Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish.  Then we headed eastward and returned to New Orleans along the eastern coastal bays of Louisiana.

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UPDATED 2012 SEP 09 - WITH VIDEOS OF THE FLOODING!  SEE BELOW.

2012 August 30 Thursday
Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, LA

It was fun to watch Hurricane Isaac arrive.  After all, we had been assured that all drains were open, the maximum expected surge was 5 ft -- and hey, Katrina had been 25 ft, and this hangar and building were as stout as anything ever built here.  Well, this was all true.  Problem is, it was irrelevant.  The drains backed up. I have no idea what the final surge was. The hangar and building did not fall down. But they sure filled up...