Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gulf Road Trip Day 5-flyover of wellsite

One the final day of our trip, we got to do a flyover of the Deepwater Horizon well site in a Coast Guard plane. Right before our trip, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and two parish presidents had gone up with Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft (federal on-scene coordinator for the spill) and NOAA Science Support Coordinator Steve Lehmann to survey the site post-Tropical Storm Bonnie.
After they landed, they gave a brief press conference. I knew the mayor of NOLA was on board but I didn't know which one he was, and so everyone milled about in the airport (it is a very small airport, and no one was there but us), and he introduced himself to me, but I didn't even realize who it was until the press conference... I suppose I shouldn't admit that, but I got called at the last minute for this Coast Guard flyover, and I wasn't there to interview the politicians. :) He's the one in the center.
Zukunft, Paul Rhynard - Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer, and Lehmann.
In the air, Zukunft and Lehmann look at a map of the spill's recent trajectory.
I hate this photo of me but... it's the only one I have. To my left is Matt Gutman, a reporter for ABC News, who has been covering the spill a lot.
Melissa on the plane. The shot is out of focus but it's the only one I have that turned out.
In the back of the plane, there were two Coast Guard people (Coasties) in jumps seats. Halfway through the trip, once we got to the well site, they opened the back of the plane so we could see and shoot photos but unfortunately my photos of the site didn't turn out because of the lighting. To the left is Jeff Adelson, who reports for the Times Picayune.
Steve talking to NY Times reporter Campbell Robertson (based in the New Orleans office).
Adm Zukunft looking out the window.
Zukunft and Gutman looking at the map.

On the way back in, we passed over Louisiana's coastline, which is mostly coastal marsh and estuaries.
The Louisiana coastline.
Another shot of the marsh This cameraman, I can't remember his name, shot for Jeff Corwin on NBC. After the Coast Guard flyover ended, we hauled butt straight back for Houston. It was a long day, and a long drive, and it was nice to get home! And right when we drove past the Texas border, we saw this double rainbow! You probably can't see the other larger, less vibrant rainbow in the photo but it was there, welcoming me back home.

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