Monday, March 28, 2016

UAVs in the Superstitions

March 21, 2016 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

A little more than a decade ago unmanned Quad copters were only in an experimental stage and few people were familiar with them. As various electronic models developed and improved so did the possibility of unmanned rotorcraft.

The concept for manned quad copters has been around since 1907. A manned and tethered quad copter actually got off the ground in 1907. However, it was not successful in the sense of actual flight. Again in the 1920s more manned quad copters were designed, but they were difficult to control and not a practical means of vertical take off flight with a pilot.

The Quad copter is controlled by the action of its rotors turning in different directions for forward, backward, vertical and descending motion. Eventually a micro electronic brain was developed to control the quad copter for flight by an operator with a transmitter. This was the introduction of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Private individuals experimented with building their own models for several years before commercial models became available about 2005. At first, the models were expensive, couldn’t carry much of a payload, had an extremely short flying time, and needed a good operator to keep them together.

Some time around 2009 various Search and Rescue units around the Southwest became interested in using these drones, as they are called now, to search for lost hikers, campers, or hunters in rugged terrain. As this need developed, more sophisticated models came on the market with high-resolution cameras and the ability to transmit back to the operater high-resolution photographs. Originally the flying time for these drones was about ten to seventeen minutes. With the development of more advanced Lithium batteries, the flying time of drones, depending on payload, was increased to thirty or thirty-five minutes.

During the past three years quad copter drones of extremely high quality have been introduced to the general public with a very vigorous advertising program. Today a person can purchase a drone with a 4k high-resolution camera capable of flight up to thirty-five minutes depending on the payload it is carrying for between $500 and $3000. However, drones are now creating a problem in the general and commercial aviation field.

Many drones have been spotted around airports, near descending airliners, at forest fires, at accidents, etc. It has been reported these drones are interfering with the safety of emergency vehicles.

Recently several spectacular videos have appeared on-line of Superstition Mountain filmed from a UAV.
Why has the drone market become so popular? Americans today are looking for alternative means of recreation. Evidently the drone with a high-resolution camera is satisfying these needs. There are many issues now involved, ranging from safety, privacy, and even terrorism. What if someone wanted to destroy something? Some of these drones can carry up to fifty-five pounds of extra weight and be directed to any target by remote control.

At this point, ther are many uses for drones, including law enforcement, real estate, investment companies, insurance companies, and many more. Another issue is our personal privacy in our homes and yards.

This issue has created consternation among many citizen groups in America. Now that drones are so readily available to the average citizen with little or no training concerns many municipalities, counties and states. What type of rules will be adopted and how soon to control this invasion of privacy in America?

Presently, UAV operators are permitted to fly up to 400 feet above the ground placing them at a vantage point to view what is below them with camera of 4K-resolution. The details these new cameras are capable of is absolutely remarkable

These UAVs have created many issues for commercial and general aviation for the future. Should UAVs be flown beyond the sight of the operator? Should the UAVs be permitted to haul packages? Should operators be licensed? If you look at the regulations and rules for general aviation it is very complex and requires extended knowledge of flight, ability to fly, medical condition, etc. As of February 2016, drones of a certain weight classification must be registered. Drones weighing between 0.55 lbs. (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25kg.) are to be registered by the FAA.

For the time being there are few rules governing the flight of private drones or UAVs. Those that exist are:

  1. Don’t fly within five miles of an airport 
  2. Don’t fly above four hundred feet, 
  3. Don’t fly close to people or animals 
  4. Don’t fly near radio or television towers, 
  5. Wilderness Areas, National Park and Monuments are closed to unmanned flight of any kind.
  6. Some municipalities and counties have strict regulations. 
  7. No flying permitted around military bases, 
  8. Many federal lands are also closed to flights. 

These are just a few rules at this time that are for UAVs. Also UAVs cannot be used for pursuing wildlife or observing wildlife, particularly during hunting seasons.

Now what are the regulations for flying a UAV around the Superstition Wilderness Area? Basically you can’t without a special use permit. However, a drone can be used over the wilderness as long as it is not launched and landed within the wilderness boundary. Technically the drone must maintain 400 feet in elevation above the terrain. Recently several spectacular videos have appeared on-line of Superstition Mountain filmed from a UAV.

If drone flying is on your “to do” list, excersize caustion and care and respect the rights of others. There’s simply no reason to be taking unnecessary risks with a costly piece used in the incorrect way.

Being responsible and not subjecting other people to danger of harm or damage to personal property is the best advice I can give any beginner drone aviator.

Before you start, I implore you to think and to use some of the common sense you have learned over you lifetime.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Letter from Glen Magill

March 7, 2016 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

This story will hopefully provide you with a little insight into the fraternity of treasure and lost mine hunters. This is a unique group coming from all walks of life. Their faith in their story or tale of lost gold that is usually unshakeable. Here is a story based on a letter I received from Glenn Magill dated May 11, 1989.

“Tom, I have just finished reading your commentary: The Last Great Search For The Lost Dutchman Mine. I fully enjoy your reflections over my twenty-four years and I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Not to just thank you for the confidence you displayed in me by giving me ‘the benefit of the doubt.’ 
“Over these past years, from the conversations I have had with you and the letters I’ve received from you, I have noted that you are a kind, considerate and caring person, and notwithstanding your own rival pursuits, and vested interests in your father’s legacy, you have shown no malice whatsoever to me, in fact you have always been an advocate rather than a competitor. And as a professional private investigator for more than 33 years, I also have acquired a good sense for character. Whereas: I can, therefore, speak with some authority in addition to my own personal experiences with you. It’s too bad that you and I did not ‘break trail’ together in the very beginning of our quest. I know that we could have complimented each other in many, many ways along that ‘trail’.

“The Superstition Mountain Journal (Volume 7) has a great new look and all of the other articles there in were very interesting too, especially the story by Slim Fogle’s daughter. She would no doubt be surprised to learn that her father made his last trip into Superstition Mountains with me. It is a long story and would make a full chapter in any worthy history of the Superstitions, but I will give only a brief account of that day:

“It was during one of our routine trips to the area. By prior arrangements, we met Slim at the Superstition Inn Saloon to pack us in to Al Morrow’s camp. We always took Al fresh supplies and stayed over-night in his camp before going on to our project the next morning.

“Arriving at Al’s Camp in Needle Canyon, Slim Fogle unloaded our packs from the pack horses, and in the comfort of Al’s Camp, at my insistence, Slim  promised me that he would return at a certain future date to take us out of the range and back to civilization. But Slim Fogle never returned for us. We finally had to walk out to First Water in the rain where our vehicle was parked, and then went searching for Slim.

“When we arrived back at the Superstition Inn, we learned that Slim had taken seriously ill while we were still in the mountains, and that he had died in a hospital in Globe. (Slim Fogle died on February 1, 1968, at the age of 72 in Globe, Arizona). As always, we took photographs for slides of our entire trip from First Water to Al’s Camp in Needle Canyon. Consequently, I know that I now possess the very last pictures of Slim Fogle, who indeed was a ‘real cowboy.’

“Meanwhile Tom, it now appears that I have a different kind of mountain to climb. My injuries, as mentioned in your story, are far more serious than the physicians first thought, subsequently clinical tests reveal severe damage to my neurological system, and because of constant pain (both day and night) I was forced to quite my business after more than 33 consecutive years. Presently I am confined at home and put to bed under traction with pain-killing medications, but like that marvelous sacred bird called “Phoenix” I, too will rise from this dilemma and be right back on the trail.
“For the time being, however, I suppose the Thunder Gods have truly had the last laugh and, according to Carl Sagan, the prestigious authority on Astronomy with NASA, there is a basic law of the Universe that decrees: ‘Anything that can happen will happen, sooner or later.’

“Perhaps someday, Tom, you and I might walk together down that “Monumented Trail,” where I may prove that your faith in me has not been misplaced.

Sincerely, Glenn Magill, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma”

Glenn Magill’s health in no way detered his desire to continue the search. The likelihood at that time, Glenn Magill and I would be walking down that “Monumented Trail” together someday would not occur. However, if it does we will be beyond that “great divide in the sky.”

This is a story based on a letter I received
from Private Detective Glenn Magill of
Oklahoma City, dated May 11, 1989.
While reading this letter I sensed great despair and helplessness as he shared his feeling with me. He still addressed his obsession with the Lost Dutchman mine with vibrant vigor. This is the way of most true Dutch hunters and dreamers. All of them are special people and their success will be measured by the legacy they leave behind.

Tom Kollenborn’s extensive research is dedicated to preserving the history of the Superstition Wilderness and the historic Apache Trail of Arizona. Kollenborn is a noted author and historian of the Superstition Wilderness and is one of the leading experts on the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine legend and has written numerous articles and books about the Apache Trail and related history. Tom shares his experience with the public every week in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News with “Kollenborn Chronicles.” The articles are also available online.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Last Great Search for the Lost Dutchman Mine

September 24, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Time has a strange way of eroding away one’s memory of events that occurred five decades ago.  A few days ago I was perusing some old periodicals about the last publicized great search for the famous Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Apache Junction. The story that caught my eye revealed interesting events that happen here some fifty years ago.

On April 8, 1966, the Associated Press announced to the world the discovery of the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona by a group of Oklahoma prospectors. A private detective named Glenn D. Magill led the group. The name Magill soon became a household word among those who were knowledgeable about the Lost Dutchman Mine. Some believed Magill had found the Lost Dutchman Mine while others doubted the claim of the Oklahoma detective.
Curt Gentry’s book “Killer Mountain” is
an account of Magill’s search for
 the Lost Dutchman Mine with a
 little exaggeration.
The book is available at the City Library.

Magill’s claim made front-page news throughout the United States. What an exciting story it was! Finally, the gold of Superstition Mountain had been found and many old timers who believed in the mine had been vindicated. Inquiries from around the nation poured into the small hamlet of Apache Junction. A Tucson radio station recorded a program at the mine site and later aired the program over their station. The program included interviews with the discoverers of this world-famous lost mine. Robert K. Corbin, a noted searcher for the Lost Dutchman Mine, who visited the site and was interviewed on radio.

The real story behind Magill’s discovery is how he became involved in the search for this legendary lost gold mine.

Glenn D. Magill was introduced to the initial search for this mine when he was a family man with a struggling business enterprise and bills to pay. Searching for a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona was the furthest thing from his mind.

Magill was born in Indianola, Oklahoma on October 16, 1927. His grandparents were Oklahoma pioneers, “Sooners”  who were originally involved in the Great Oklahoma Land Rush.  Magill grew up in Oklahoma City and as a youth was intensely interested in adventure. His dream for high adventure never waned, but as an adult he had a career  and a family to care for. These responsibilities prevented him from leading a wanderlust way of life.

Magill’s first introduction to the Lost Dutchman Mine occurred in an Oklahoma City theater in 1950. At this theater he saw the Columbia motion picture titled, “Lust for Gold,” starring Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino. The film was based on Barry Storm’s book “Thunder God’s Gold” published in 1945 at Tortilla Flat, Arizona. This more or less fictional version of the Lost Dutchman Mine story did little to invoke Magill’s desire to rush off to Arizona to search for this famous lost mine. Magill found the film to be a great adventure, but did not take it very serious. It was Hollywood’s way of presenting the facts about a lost mine, which Magill seriously doubted existed.

For the most part, Magill forgot about the Lost Dutchman Mine until an attorney friend of his in Dallas, Texas, contacted him. The attorney informed Magill he had a client in Denver, Colorado, who wanted someone to research the Lost Dutchman Mine to determine if it actually existed. The attorney asked Magill if he would be interested in examining some papers and documents about the lost gold mine in Arizona. Magill agreed to examine the material and assumed at the time his examination of the papers or material was not a paying job. After all, who hires a private investigator to search for a legendary lost gold mine? The attorney agreed to send the material to Magill for his thorough examination.

A few days later a package arrived for Magill. He returned with the package to his office and placed it on a file cabinet intending to open it immediately. The package was temporarily forgotten and remained unopened for several weeks. Under normal circumstances, Magill would have opened the package immediately, but in this case he thought he was doing a favor for a friend without payment so he attended to other matters that were more pressing of his immediate attention.

A few weeks later the Dallas attorney called Magill to inquire about what he thought of the papers he had sent him.  Magill apologized for not having examined them, but explained to his friend that he had been extremely busy.  Magill further advised the attorney that he was examining the information as a favor and was not expecting to be compensated for it.  The attorney explained to Magill he would indeed be paid for his time. A few days later a check arrived for $1,500.00. From that day on Glenn D. Magill, private detective was actively investigating the existence and location of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

This was a considerable earnest fee for a struggling private investigator in Oklahoma City in 1964. Magill now knew his client in Dallas was very serious about proving or disproving the existence of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

Magill’s investigation of the Lost Dutchman Mine led him across the United States, coast to coast, and into rustic old files searching for documents and information.  The more Magill investigated and researched the more he believed there was something to the story about a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Magill’s campsite on Bluff Springs Mountain became a center of intense activity for many years after the Associated Press International’s release in 1966. Magill tried to keep his trips into the mountain’s secret and out of the public limelight. This proved to be nearly impossible.

The general public believed or wanted to believe the Lost Dutchman Mine Exploration Corporation had at last found the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine. Prior to 1966 Magill had used a helicopter to pin point what he believed was the exact location of the Lost Dutchman Mine. He had methodically exhausted every clue he had obtained through research and then made his decision as to the precise location of Jacob Waltz’s bonanza.

Magill found what he thought was Waltz’s gold mine, but there was no gold bonanza to remove. Until the day of his death October 19, 1993, Glen Magill believed the Lost Dutchman Mine existed. He believed he had not pinpointed its exact location correctly.