We waited seven years for our permit on the Colorado River. Six months before our launch we started planning: 16 good friends schemed to enjoy the Grand Canyon for 14 days. We each went on this trip for a different reason. Some were there to experience the beauty of the Southwest, some to be teachers, some to learn and some to get pregnant. Some of us were on our first river trip. One of us had floated the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon 35 times - he plans to do his 75th trip through the Grand Canyon on his 75th birthday. One of our group (a geologist) was there to see and comment on the Great Unconformity.
But most every day airplanes and helicopters droned and whirred overhead, sometimes for hours.
We heard birds - 60 different species; we heard the wind slip through National Canyon; we heard the miniature waterfall at Elves Chasm tumble over the 570-million-year-old Tapeats Sandstone; we heard a late spring thunderstorm one night after a dinner; we all heard a snake's rattle in camp after dark; we heard Lava Falls before, during and after running the rapid; we heard the sand whisper across the beach at Bass Camp; we listened to the Grand Canyon wake up at daybreak. And most every day we were forced to listen to airplanes and helicopters.
There are many ways to experience Grand Canyon National Park: By foot, mule, tour bus, with a presidential entourage (overflights stopped for the president), motorboat, family station wagon, on your way from San Diego to Chicago at 30,000 feet, a VW camper or a red hot single seat sports car, by horseback, or simply by slipping through the lower canyons in a raft; but not from a helicopter less than 2,000 feet above those of us that have planned and dreamed about our river trip for eight or more years. It's time to stop all overflights of the Grand Canyon.
Robert H. Whitson
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