Tikaboo Peak Monday 19-April-2004
by Ed Straker

Not the best day for a hike with overcast skies and concerns over the weather (more for the vehicular access than the climb). In the event all was well. The drive was good and the climb easier that expected with no snow whatsoever on Tikaboo Peak itself.

The visibility from the top was poor and the Janet 737s were not readily discernible at the base and activities were monitored as the occasional snow flurry passed through.

Nothing out of the ordinary was observed at the base itself. Plenty of traffic heard on the scanner though; the call-sign of the month being 'Buddy'. One of the crews questioned the ridiculous call-signs to be told that next month (i.e. May) it changed to something even worse i.e. 'Mother'. The R/T discipline was a little lax; plenty of quips and comments e.g. calling the controller by his christian name and Buddy 4 spilling the beans as to it's real ID by replying '4BA' i.e. N654BA on at least one occasion.

We were at the peak from around 0930 to 1530 with the major excitement taking place at around 1300 when having remarked that there seemed to be a non-Buddy call-sign on the freq which I thought was 'Skitty 34' it was pointed out to me that the distant thud thud of rotor blades were coming from a chopper heading towards Tikaboo from the Guard Shack. I then realized it was probably 'Security 34' and the chopper turned out to be a base 'Blackhawk' type (actually a MH-60L). This rose up the face of Tikaboo from surface level and did a very close, slow pass as they checked us out. And I mean close, 26352 was easily read. Somewhat surprised by ur visit - you really don't expect to meet other humans up a mountain in the middle of nowhere - I waved at them.

The chopper went around the mountain and descended into the valley behind us and out of view for a while. We assume that they were checking our 4x4 out (we'd left it in clear view). The chopper then came back out of the valley and passed us a little further away this time and headed back to the base in the direction of the Guard Shack. I don't believe that it landed immediately and it continued on a patrol it appears before landing around 25 mins later.

The runway of choice for the small Beech Janets was 30 and when 32 was mandated (due to a Janet 737 taxying for 32 which involves the use of 30 as a taxiway), the crews were keen to get taxiway F. I don't know where F is but their keenness for 30 tied up with my visual impression that the Beechs park at a position off the end of 30 and left. Looking at the map on the DLR website this makes the parking position to be in front of '19' i.e. the hangar 20-23 storage building. It certainly appeared to be to the south of the actual hangar 20-23. I'm not sure if there is a logical explanation for this; these small Beechs seem to spend a fair amount of their time ferrying to and from Palmdale so perhaps that area of the base is the home of those contractors.

Anyhow, an enjoyable trip. Shame that the Blackhawk crew didn't stop to offer a ramp tour of the base or a ride down the mountain!

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