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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wicked Witch 2 overflies Historic Steam Locomotive

Fellow storm chaser and train enthusiast Dan Barker clued me in that a unique opportunity would exist this weekend to fly the Wicked Witch 2 over the historic Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 844.

This morning I got out to HW85 just south of Brighton where I stopped and asked a couple and a nice lady if they were waiting for the train and if it left Denver on time. "this is the Union Pacific, not Amtrak" she replied, ha ha ha! As I was shutting off my car and starting to get the WW2 out she wistled over that it was on it's way. And boy was it ever. I rushed across the tracks to the far dirt road and began turning on the equipment when the train sped past us behind me while I was still on the ground.

I asked the group if there was a chance of catching the train and raced north where I finally caught site of it as it slowed at La Salle, CO. The locomotive sped up again and quickly passed the 20 or so cars and motorcycles that where now obviously pacing it. At every crossing there were 3-4 carloads of people waiting for the train to speed by. Very much like storm chasing, here I was chasing a large object, moving fast without needing to slow for stop lights or traffic and making a Bee-line north-east. Train chaser convergence was everywhere!

North of Greeley people had started to slow and pull over and I noticed that instead of closing their camera view finders they were getting them out. I knew I had finally pulled ahead.

Just north of Lucerne, CO still on HW85 I pulled over and across the road next to a wide open wheat field with no powerlines or trees, this was my chance. I powered on the WW2 and launched her into the air and began making a sweep of circles over the tracks where I knew the old UP844 would pass.

Not knowing how the slip stream and turbulence of a train moving at 65mph would impact a small plane I kept it at a reasonable altitude of 100 feet or so. Enjoy the video, it was a fun little practice flight in a time-critical situation and a good off-season practice for when storm flying returns in the fall!

UP 844 speeds under the WW2 along HW85 on it's way the Cheyenne Frontier Days

Steam Locomotive 844 quickly heads up the tracks at 65mph!

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