In an earlier post, I whined about military red tape being to blame for the delay in getting air craft up in the air during the wild fires. I hadn't heard the story firsthand because I was trying to keep the kids away from the media blitz. But Rowena wrote to me that I had it wrong-- and darned if I didn't. So thanks to Rowena for letting me know that my reference to the "stupid military" wasn't accurate.
[As a side note, I never considered when I posted that comment that I might come across as anti-military. I'm definitely not anti-military. I don't know how anyone growing up in San Diego could be. I appreciate all our military does, and I'm awed by how their families hold down the fort while they are away, often on very long deployments. I remember how hard it was for me during Desert Storm when my dad was away and we didn't know for how long, but he was an Air Force pilot, so his time away was nothing compared to what Navy families experience on a pretty regular basis-- and nothing compared to what families are going through nowadays.]
Anyway, the way I'd heard the story was that the planes couldn't fly in California because of military red tape that was not allowing the planes in the air. I had heard that Brian Bilbray negotiated a deal to get the equipment (or people?) here from Colorado. But this was erroneous. The way it works is that air crafts need "spotters" to fly with them, and there weren't enough spotters. And this is a state rule, not a federal one-- which means that it definitely was not military red tape. What Brian Bilbray did was broker a deal to waive some of the "spotter" requirements so that the aircraft could get off the ground. Though it does appear that some military planes (C-130s) were not properly equipped as they should have been, and there is apparently a plan to rectify that.
There are much better explanations than the one I gave on CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today, if you're interested.
Mostly, I wanted to thank Rowena for letting me know I had it all wrong-- I'd e-mail you if I had an address, to thank you more personally. I love that someone out there is actually reading this blog closely enough to call me out on something when I deserve it! So thanks, Rowena.
And if anyone has an opinion about why the spotters are necessary and should never be waived, I'm open to hearing about it. And yes, I do realize that it's entirely possible that even if we had all the spotters we needed and the C-130s were appropriately equipped, the winds might have prohibited the planes from flying!