We Flew in a Huey Piloted by Mike Silva

We Flew in a Huey Piloted by Mike Silva

We got to ride in a helicopter with Denver news pilot Mike Silva. In 1993, we were contacted by an independent archaeologist about the possibility of the Sand Creek monument possibly in the wrong spot and that the correct spot may be on our family ranch. This story is the beginning of our involvement in the Sand Creek event location. Enjoy this excerpt from our book. 

Jim Kopke, a member of the Colorado Archaeology Society, called me in 1993 expressing his interest to search for what he believed to be the lost Sand Creek site on my parents’ ranch. Bill Schneider, also a history enthusiast and independent archaeologist, joined him. 

Jim and Bill believed the bend at the traditional site was incorrect, and the likely one was at the upper end of our ranch, 8 ½ miles up the creek from the monument. This bend resembles the one at the traditional site. They focused on the Bent (Hyde) map, assuming it showed the correct bend. My parents, Buster and Frances, gave them permission to access their land. 

They initially worked without any outside assistance. Kopke reached out to the Colorado Historical Society for some data. Something unexpected happened…

…CHS archaeologists conducted a site visit in early August to develop a field schedule, make a preliminary examination of the site, and meet with local landowners. The CHS set the search date for September 1, 1993. Their plan also included metal detecting for 1860s artifacts.

 CHS staff was accompanied by Jim Kopke, Bill Schneider, and Air National Guard personnel. Kopke and Schneider’s research included a study of original narratives, historical and geological maps, government documents, and contemporary newspaper articles.

CHS team members go over the plan before examining bends in the creek from the Huey helicopters.

The group took off in three Huey helicopters from Buckley Air National Guard Field and headed southeast toward Lamar. They circled several times over New Bent’s Fort, also called Old Fort Lyon, about eight miles west of Lamar on the north bank of the Arkansas River. They continued 40 miles northward to pick up the landowners at the traditional Sand Creek site.

Sheri and I flew in the Huey piloted by Mike Silva, a Denver news station pilot. In 1988, he became nationally known when he swooped down with the news chopper and followed an armed robber who killed a police officer and took a hostage. He kept police officers informed of the suspect’s location which led to a shootout. Police killed the suspect and rescued the hostage. A movie, “The Chase,” was made about the heroic event. 

This YouTube video shows clips from Silva following the suspects for Denver News Channel 4 in 1988. The movie, The Chase, was released in 1991, two years before Mike Silva was at Sand Creek.

I had my RB-67 Mamiya medium-format camera loaded with infrared film, a VHS camcorder, and a 35mm Pentax camera with color film. I used the infrared film hoping to pick up signs of old trails, tipi rings, and depressions in the land that may not show up on standard film. 

We sat on a bench while our feet hung over the edge of the chopper. It lifted into the air while we were still figuring out how to fasten our seat belts. 

We examined bends in the creek while the low-flying Hueys traveled northwest along Sand Creek to the upper bend on our ranch.

To read the rest of this excerpt, pick up a copy of our book here. Please leave us a star rating and review.

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