January 2019 - Shutting Down...

Feb 22, 2019
Captain's Log Starship 1XE, Day 26 in the month January, Earth Calendar year 2019.
Starship 1XE is back in the desert, flying over creek bottoms and dry river beds, striated with dark ribs of water from recent rains; troughs of runoff that seep into the seemingly endless dunes and island mountain terrain of the Mojave and western reaches of the Sonoran Deserts. With all the recent water a 'super bloom' is probably on the horizon, and already the desert is taking on a verdant shade.
Amboy Crater, Mojave Trails National Monument
After insightful and successful flights with press, superintendents, supervisors and other elected officials, I land at Twenty Nine Palms and begin my shutdown checklist: Throttle 1000rpm, lights off, avionics master switch off, I-pad stowed, condition lever cutoff, master off, mags off. Simple, effective, gets the job done.
The Government's shutdown checklist: Bargain for something you want, veto any legislation to end the shutdown, try to divide and conquer, and if the worker bee gets squashed...so be it. Not so simple, incredibly ineffective, and 800,000 some odd workers gravely affected.
My passengers on these flights over Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve (managed by National Park Service) and the relatively new Mojave Trails National Monument (managed by BLM) were some of the very same employees who just a while ago were working in these great desert national parks. Talking to me on 1XE radio were unpaid air traffic controllers, who were thinking about researching new careers, but nonetheless bound by duty and responsibility to keep us all safe, all of them taking the higher road, with the steadfast belief that safety is not a partisan issue.
Bruce and EcoFlight passenger Breanne Dusastre of Visit 29 Palms joining in the demonstration in Joshua Tree
National Park employees, both past and present, staged a demonstration in Joshua Tree National Park to highlight the vandalism and other destruction happening during the shutdown. National parks remained open, even though unstaffed. Iconic Joshua trees were damaged and tracks were created by offroad vehicles. Trash was piling up. The desert was becoming a human bathroom. There was an evident lack of care by the government of our most spectacular wild parks and of the stewards of these landscapes, who clearly do care.
The National Park Service protects unique natural resources and works to prevent the havoc that occurred in these parks during the shutdown - the destruction of ancient Joshua trees and ATV created roads. The desert is a fragile landscape, it cannot easily rebound. This is just one of the fall-outs from an irresponsible and thoughtless government shutdown.
Bruce Gordon