By Clara Glendale | Beacon Whirlybird Reporter
When the 15-wheeler truck limped into town on a recent Tuesday night no one expected it to not only need three semi-grade wheels and tires, but there was more no one expected.
Perched atop the semi’s flatbed was a Schweizer 269C-1. On a normal weekday there would have been nothing abnormal about it, But this was no normal weekday. It was a normal weeknight, except for the arrival of the Bass Lake helicopter, which was perched on the flatbed of a 15-wheeler.
The helicopter marks a great, if controversial, leap forward for the Bass Lake community. Approved for purchase in late April by the the Bass Lake Council, or whatever it’s called, the whirlybird will fill a gap in local policing, according to Bass Lake Police Authority Chief Tug McNabb. Chief McNabb said the addition of the chopper to the local “care force” will be an expensive yet valuable addition.
But naysayers naysay the helicopter costs too much and is unnecessary.
“Seriously?” said Bass Lake resident and businessman Larry Karen. “Have you seen our sidewalks? This thing just costs way too much.”
“Who cares what it costs?” McNabb said as the flatbed wobbled into town. “By my calculations I can fire four of my deputies and sell their cars to Goodwill after we get this bird airborne. I may even fire myself. I’m so excited.”
The $240,000 helicopter may take longer to earn its keep than Chief McNabb envisions, according to a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lives in a barrel near the Out-on-the-Highway underpass. The pilot, who flew missions in a recent war he declined to name, said it costs a lot to keep a helicopter in flying condition.
“You didn’t hear it from me,” he said. “On the condition of anonymity.”
But others agree with McNabb’s thinking that the chopper will earn its keep.Mayor Delores Denominator said she thinks the aircraft will “put Bass Lake on the map, right next to the highway near the trees but not too close.
“We’ve done the math,” Denominator said. “Two plus two still equals three plus one. Five.”
An inaugural invasion of privacy is slated for mid-month.
“Everyone better zip up!” McNabb said. “We’ve got our eyes on you.”