Top 5 Fighter Plane Movies

There are two things we’re all looking for in a good fighter plane movie: fighter planes, and non-stop action. Some films that claim to be fighter plane movies contain plenty of the latter but surprisingly few of the former. I’m not naming any names here, but *cough* Firefox *cough*. If you’ve only got two hours of spare time, you’ve got one shot at choosing the right movie. The following five films are the best of the best of the genre. They should be the first films you reach for on the DVD rack.

#5. Into the Sun

A fighter pilot on active duty overseas has to put up with an annoying movie star following him everywhere – even into combat – as research for his new film role.

Released: 1992 by Trimark Pictures
Starring: Michael Pare, Anthony Michael Hall
Featured Planes: F-16 Fighting Falcons

Few people have ever heard of (or can find a copy of) Into the Sun, which is a shame, because it’s one of the cleverest, funniest films in the genre. It’s not a spoof, like Hot Shots, but it manages to poke fun at the stereotypes while still hitting all the story points we need in a fighter plane film.

#4. Flyboys

A World War I fighter pilot stationed with the famous Lafayette squadron in France struggles to fend off the Germans and protect the French woman he’s falling in love with.

Released: 2006 by 20th Century Fox
Starring: James Franco, Jean Reno
Featured Planes: Nieuport 17s

This is a must-see for anyone who thinks biplanes are boring. The greater danger these pilots faced because of the fragility of their equipment makes the dogfight sequences in Flyboys some of the most tense and harrowing in the genre.

#3. Battle of Britain

In the summer of 1940, a small group of British pilots fight desperately to keep the Nazi Luftwaffe from bombing their country into submission and opening the way for a land invasion.

Released: 1969 by MGM/United Artists
Starring: Michael Caine, Lawrence Olivier
Featured Planes: Spitfires, Hurricanes, Heinkel 111s, ME-109s, etc.

There is only one word for the aerial sequences in Battle of Britain: amazing. With so many planes in the air, it looks like a nest of angry hornets, and the best part is that they’re all real. There was no CGI in 1969. The story is a bit confusing for people who don’t know their history, but the massive dogfights more than make up for it.

#2. Top Gun

A cocky young fighter pilot gets his chance to go up against the best pilots in the Navy when he’s chosen for the fighter weapons school nicknamed “Top Gun.”

Released: 1986 by Paramount Pictures
Starring: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmet
Featured Planes: F-14 Tomcats, A-4 Skyhawks, Mig-28s (actually F-5 Tiger IIs)

Top Gun is the seminal film of the genre. It spawned numerous popular quotes (“I have a need, a need for speed!”) and ignited a resurgence of interest in the fighter plane genre. It’s very 80s, especially in the soundtrack, but hardly a minute goes by where we’re not treated to heartstopping aerial action. Always a solid pick.

#1. Stealth

A fighter pilot is forced to go head to head with his own wingman: a futuristic, artificially intelligent fighter plane that has gone rogue.

Released: 2005 by Columbia Pictures
Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel
Featured Planes: futuristic fighters

There’s a sizeable element of science fiction in Stealth, which only serves to make it all the more awesome. All the impossible feats you ever daydreamed of pulling in a fighter are here and the sprawling story even manages to be unpredictable. Stealth is underrated, and comes highly recommended… by me.

Katrina Nicholson is a former pilot who writes movie reviews at Check out her article Plane Movies You’ve Never Seen to find out about more awesome airplane movies you need to watch.

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2014 Resolution: Lose Ten Pounds Of Unwanted Words

Each new year brings resolutions. But instead of the familiar ones (you know, more exercise, better eating), how about a commitment to lose clichés and unnecessary words, so your writing and speaking are as smooth and clear as a mountain stream?

In nearly all cases, we make a first impression with words, whether you’re on a first date or meeting potential customers or business partners. Here’s an example: How many people in the business world have read or heard a business describe itself like this?

As a full-service solutions provider with world-class brands, we use mission-critical best practices to attain best-in-class products and cost-effective results, and so, at the end of the day, we are able to deliver exceptional value.

Full-service solutions provider: Almost every company can make this claim because it has no context, therefore it has no meaning. In fact, a quick search on Google finds at least 47,000 companies using the term. Would any company admit that they’re not a full-service provider?

World class: Almost every company can make this claim because it has no context, therefore it has no meaning. Who is the judge who deems a company or brand “world class”?

Mission critical: Come on. What is your company, a squadron of Top Gun fighter pilots? Overused and over the top.

Best practices: Almost every company can make this claim because it has no context, therefore it has no meaning. Whose best practices are we talking about or comparing ourselves to?

Cost effective: Almost every company can make this claim because it has no context, therefore it has no meaning. Cost effective, compared to what?

Deliver exceptional value: Almost every company… well, you know what goes here. Value compared to what? Provider of “value-added services” nets more than 600,000 matches in Google. Exactly which services are not adding value?

End of the day: What day are we talking about? Can’t we be specific? By the end of the year? By the close of business on Tuesday? In a couple of months?

What does it say about you and your organization when tens of thousands of companies are saying exactly the same things about themselves? It says your company or products are like everyone else’s.

“Years of language dilution by lawyers, marketers, executives, and HR departments have turned the powerful, descriptive sentence into an empty vessel of buzzwords, jargon, and vapid expressions,” says Jason Fried, a cofounder of 37signals. Words are treated as filler.

Fried says it best when he asks, “Would you go to a dinner party and just repeat what the person to the right of you is saying all night long? Would that be interesting to anybody? So why are so many businesses saying the same things at the biggest party on the planet – the marketplace?”

We’re all guilty of using common descriptions because it’s easy. The use of jargon and clichés reinforce one of the old adages of good writing, “Show don’t tell.” Tell me HOW you achieved “value” and avoid clichés by telling YOUR story! It’ll have a much better chance of being remembered.

And when you’re being descriptive, be bold. Dig a little and describe to your target audience what’s interesting or truly special about your organization or its people. It’s there. Otherwise the company wouldn’t have achieved success. You just have to find it.

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Relive History on the Old West Highway

Travel back in history to the days of Gunfighters, Apaches, Silver and Copper mines, where legends abound and facts and fiction intertwine. Start your trip at the base of the 30 million year old Supersition Mountains, the beginning of this fascinating journey, along the old West Highway, that starts at Apache Junction.

The first Legend – Somewhere among the forbidden peaks of Superstition mountain is hidden Jacob Waltz’s ” Lost Dutchman’s Mine”, a fantastic gold mine dating back to 1540 and the Spanish Conquistadors. Fact – the Apache Indians knew about the mine and guarded it, they believed it was a gift from the gods and they also feared the “thunder God” who they believed lived in the mountain. Fact – starting in 1540 and continuing over the centuries, many men have searched for the mine, most have lost their lives to Apache attacks and some to the spirits of those who came before seeking the mine. Fact -In 1871 two German adventurers came to the new world to find the gold mine, because of their way of speaking they were dubbed “Dutchmen”. They spent many years looking for the gold mine and some say they found it as they always had gold ore to spend. After many years one of the men disappeared, many say his partner Jacob Waltz did him in. Waltz lived until 1891, he never told anyone where the mine was, since then many people have come to Superstition mountain to find Waltz’s gold mine, none have to date.

Apache Junction is also the entrance to the Apache Trail, a 44 mile journey into the past, whose attractions include – The Goldfield Ghost Town where visits can be made to historic Mammoth Gold Mine or take a ride on Arizona’s only narrow gauge train; take a cruise on Dolly’s Steamboat on Canyon Lake; see Roosevelt Lake and Dam, the world’s highest masonary dam; and visit Tonto National Monument, a 14th century Indian Cliff dwelling.

Returning to Highway 60, with its rugges scenery, it passes the Silver King Mine once, a favourite of the legendary gunfighters – Bat masterson, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, as well as the desperados such as The Clanton Gang, the Apache Kid and the only known female stage coach robber – Pearl Hart. Among the many attractions in this area is Apache Leap, where it is said 75 brave Apache Warriors leap to their death rather than surrender to US Army Forces. When the silver ran out, the real mining began, in Superior Arizona legend says was the largest Copper Mine located underground, in what is now the inactive Magma Mine.

Here Highway 60 becomes Highway 70 as it continues through Globe, which dates back to 1875 as a mining camp, in the 1900’s the Old Dominion Copper Company was ranked as one of the world’s richest. Legend says it was linked to Geronimo, the Apache Kid and the Clanton brothers. Fact. There is lots of history to be found here and many of the old buildings dating from 1905 are still standing. Also near Globe is Besh-Ba-Gowath Archaoelogical Park with 700 years of Solada history.

Not far along legendary Highway 60 is San Carlos Apache Reservation where another short detour goes to San Carlos Lake, formed by the construction of the Coolidge Dam and rimmed by 158 miles of shoreline, then on to Thatcher and Safford with their elegant old homes and western history, Thatcher was founded in 1881 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, and Safford was founded in 1874. Beyond them is the town of Bonita, where legend says Billy the Kid, killed his first man. His identity is filled with controversy as he was known by so many names, among them William Bonney, Kid Antrim and Henry McCarty the one he was given at birth – or so the legend says.

The Spanish explorer Coronado was probably the first European to travel this legendary highway in his search for the Seven Cities and their gold treasure. But as you can see, the real treasure turned out to be Copper and the towns of Clifton and Morenci, another detour off Highway 70, stand as monuments to this industry. Here can be seen the Phelps Dodge Mine where visitors can take a tour.

Lordsbury New Mexico is the end of the Old West Highway, but we still have one more legend to see – Shakespeare, once a stop on the Butterfield Stage Coach Line, it had no churches but proudly boasted of having over 30 saloons and the fearless gunmen who walked its streets seeking outlaws, such as Russian Bill, The Clanton gang and Billy the Kid – he did get around. Spend sometime, visit the many places of interest and listen to the legends and truths of the Wild Old West.

Mona Graham, A Way To Travel

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Arizona Blue-Gunfighter: Lady in White [Chapter One of Six)

(1885) The man called Arizona Blue was a man by himself and before him laid a town in Wyoming. Behind him were scars and memories. Each one had a name. He forgot them, but he remembered the count. It was thirty-six dead. Most all of them shot though the heart, except for a few in the head. He was known as the fastest gunfighter that ever lived.

The gunfighter didn’t mind his aloneness or fear of it. He did although ponder on his loneliness. He was 44, middle aged, a gunfighter from the age of nineteen, onwards to this very day; when he shot his first of thirty-six, he got his real, I mean real first high. He became so fast he could shoot a rattler in the head at twenty-five yards before the rattler stuck his tongue out a second time.

Some men were addicted to sex, others whiskey, and still others money but not Blue, he liked them all, but was really addicted to the showdown, the quick draw that ran like alcohol in his veins; it was his climax if you will.

Women were like a newspapers to him: cheap, easy to get and throw away, and he did just that: they could never compare to a good showdown; nonetheless, he remembered his upbringing, and respected them, or at least gave them regards, and kept his distance.

He was known as Arizona Blue because Arizona was where he came from and he had the deepest blue eyes any man ever had.

He had a lucky streak as well, for picking up quick money. He was a bounty hunter, sheriff, deputy, ranch hand, foremen, and anything that it took a swift gunslinger to do.

He stood six feet tall, had broad shoulders and a wild look to his tan, muscular face. He had big hands with a grip like a wolf’s. He wore a buckskin coat and was clean-shaven but had thick long busy sideburns, the same as his hair, and thick eyebrows. He had deep-pitted eyes, high cheekbones, and a thick-looking jaw.

His horse, Dan, a solid creature with a long mane, was all a cowboy could ask for. He was brownish in color with legs like a deer and a heart that could outlast the best of the Indian horses.

With such men came the tired look. As he sat on his horse, allowing himself to catch his breath before he entered the small Wyoming town, he thought of the lonely journey he had coming up from Pueblo along the Continental Divide that stretched from Colorado to Canada. The mountains he captured sight of and the long dusty cactus along the way.

“Another town,” he whispered to himself and old Dan, as his eyes made a one hundred eighty degree circle. He had seen most of them in the Montana, Wyoming, Arizona territories; this town he hadn’t been to.

As he looked up towards the hot summer sun, he thought of his old friends in his life though he knew none of them personally. There was John Wesley Hardin, like him, a loner, and a profligate killer.

‘They say he shot 44-men’ he mumbled. ‘More than me,’ Blue grinned at the sky. He had heard he went to prison in ’78, some years back.

Then there was that wild kid he met down in Mexico called Billy. He too was a loner of sorts, who shot most of his prey in an ambush setting or else they were unarmed. Not my style he thought.

There was Doc Holiday and the Earp’s of Tombstone and Dodge City and Black Jack Bill and Six Towed Pete, and Three Fingered Dave, and that wild Indian turned gunsmith from bank robber, Ted Christie. He met them all.

Then he thought of the new breed of gunfighters like Billy the Kid, that ambusher, or Bob Ford, who shot Jesse James in the back. He’ll get his some day thought Blue.

“How yaw doing Dan,” said Blue patting him on the thigh. “We’ll be headed in shortly.”

He checked his holster on his right side: tight against his upper leg an embossed holster that held a Colt 44 ivory handled revolver, silver-plated, scroll engraved. It was a classic from the 60s, thought Blue but it had served it purpose. It had killed thirty-four of the thirty-six men he out drew.

As he looked down Main Street, he looked at all the several building to his left and a dozen on his right. The street was of hardened dirt that looked like a dried up river bed with its mounds. It had just rained the day before so the sides of the street had streams running along it by the sidewalk.

He noticed a bar, an old school house, and a brick building at the end of Main Street on his left side. Many of the other wooden frame buildings had porches. The right side of the street was more residential with houses and fences. There were several wagons on the street.

“We’re bound for here, old Dan. This will be home for awhile, more likely than not.”

Thus, he continued to ride down Main Street.

“Seems a drifter is coming in,” said old Hank, the town’s stable owner and blacksmith who was sitting outside the one of the main saloons on the left side of town.

“Looks Spanish,” said George.

“No, he’s just sunburned and weather beaten. He’s a…”

“Say, Hank, looks like he could be a gunman. He rides prouder than he should for a simple stranger all beaten to hell.”

Blue dismounted his horse, tied it to a pole, and walked towards the two gentlemen.

“His eyes are sunken in and when he gets close I bet they’re as blue as the river.”

“He’s coming, George.”

Blue was the best of the gunfighters and all who knew his reputation knew of his eyes. The difference was Blue could do all the time what all the others gunfighters could only do on a special day; that is, have a fast draw and aim next to perfect all the time.

Blue wasn’t a bragger like most of them. He didn’t shy away and let his reputation build by some ominous situation like it did for Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral. He didn’t like shooting, he craved it.

“George,” said Hank, “he’s no tenderfoot.”

“I’m going to talk to him,” said Hank to George.

“Be careful, he could be in a nasty mood, looks like he’s got some dust on his face.”

“Hi fell a,” said Blue.

“It’s really him, George, Blue,” said Hank.

“Mr. Blue, it is you, isn’t it?” asked Hank [softly].

“Sure is, “replied Blue, with a smile.

“Saw you in Cheyenne some ten years back, a gunfight with the three Conley brothers. Seen pictures of them after you killed them; one bullet hole in the upper chest, one square in the heart and one in the upper part of his arm (he hesitated, looked at blue than added:) something like that.”

“Yaw,” said Blue. The first one moved a little quick for me that day.” The two chuckled, and then asked, “You going in for a whisky?”

“Yaw, I could use a whiskey,” responded Blue.

“Well,” said Hank, “Ben is a real nice bartender. He serves a good shot of whiskey.”

A smile filled Blue’s face as he entered the saloon. As he held the door open, he noticed a female, young, in her mid-twenties, had walked up to Hank. He called her Ella. Whom were you talking to?” She asked.

“Arizona Blue,” replied Hank.

“What started it.”? She asked again.

“Just simple conversation, honey,” Hank replied. And he let go of the door, and it closed.

That must be his daughter thought Blue; a pretty one at that with short curly hair with circles like bangs covering most of the upper part of her forehead. She had thick eyebrows that got smaller as they curved downward, and a light creamy complexion with an oval shape to her jaw and chin. Her eyes were big and her nose straight and short. There was a peaceful strength to her countenance. Her neck was covered with a feminine dress of white lace.

Blue’s eyes wandered over the drab and low lit saloon. A picture filled the upper portion of the three walls some of gunfighters, bullfighters, presidents, and women.

A banjo picker was sitting to the left of Blue with his knee over the arm of a chair. Three men were around a pool table, smoking. The one with a cigar was pondering his shot. Four men were to the left at a table playing cards and Ben stood behind the bar. He had on a derby hat and a cigar in his mouth also.

Blue walked up to the bar. “What yaw going to have, stranger? “Asked Ben.

“Whiskey, a double shot,” said Blue.

Ben started to pour the shots putting them in two separate shot glasses, catching a glimpse of his pistol and trying to figure out just who this person was.

As Blue looked to the left of Ben, he noticed newspaper clippings on the wall. They were of gunfighters, such as, Bat Materson, the Younger boys, John Marshall, Jesse James, clay Allison. Then, to his surprise, there he was, a picture taken of him several years ago; when he was a deputy for a U.S. Marshall in Indian Territory. The caption read:

“Arizona Blue uses his quick gun for against outlaws.”

He remembered that year well. He used his gun that next year though, with the outlaws, kind of a turnabout. It was the only year he went against the law though. He didn’t like prison so he got out of the business of robbing trains, although his part had only been that of a backup gun incase things got too hot.

Ben caught Blue, looking at his picture but didn’t say a word. He figured if he wanted his name exposed he’d do it himself.

A wiry man with a strong grip grabbed Blue by he shoulder, “Buy me a drink stranger,” said the rough-rustic voice. He was hard looking, like a lumberjack coming out of the woods. He caught Blues eyes, and starred as if nothing could harm him. “I said a drink mister…now…!”

Blue stepped back away from the bar, “No,” he said, “but you can buy me one.” Blue lowered his right hand to the side of his holster. “Now, big man,” said Blue with a simple whisper, starring towards the middle of the man’s chest to see every movement of his body, it was his way to a close draw. No distractions from his opponent’s eyes. No one moved in the bar, it is like everyone was frozen; –as if they all wanted to know when the firing started which way to run, that being the other way of the bullets.

The wiry heavy set, six foot-two man, tried to look into Blue’s eyes, but could only find his forehead. “Johnny Barton is my name stranger. I’m pretty good with my Colt, Mister. I dont wants to kill yu over a drink, “he said with his heighten voice, as if to tell the world, and now coward out of the fight. But sweat was starting to roll down the sides of his ears. Blue was as calm as a bird on a branch.

Replied Blue, “I really don’t mind dying for one -Draw!”

Johnny starred at the man’s face, his buckskin jacket and his fancy gun with a name in copper across its handle imbedded into the wood. Then all of a sudden Blue raised his head a fraction of an inch, and Johnny caught his blue eyes, as bright as the sky. He knew now it was Arizona Blue:

“Good, good god,” he sighed from the upper part of his chest to his stomach, trying to catch his wind, “Blue, it’s Arizona Blue,” he said out loud. “…if I kill you, I’ll be famous.”

Blue smiled. “Go for it,’ he commented; adding, “You’ll be famous and dead. The whole bar started hugging the walls, and whispering to one another. The name Blue came out a half dozen time within the following twenty-seconds.

“He’s a big one,” said one of the pool players.

“Join him if you think he’s got a chance, mister,” responded Blue without moving an eyelash. “Right where you stand; both of you go for your guns.”

The pool shark laughed. “Just who do you think you are?” He said sarcastically.

“He’s Blue, mister, unbeatable; I suggest you move away from Johnny, and fast,” said Ben with a lump in his throat.

The pool shark stepped back a foot, “Listen, mister, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be next.” Then he put his pool stick down and ran to the door and into the street.

“Hell, why not, “said Johnny. “I don’t want to fight you; you might be able to beat me.”

“You’re a dead man,” said Blue. The big man fell to his knees, tears started coming from his eyes, and he started pleading. “Really mister, I don’t want to fight; I’m a coward.”

“Didn’t think he was a wimp,” said a man who was playing cards.

“You want to join him, whoever said that,” said Blue. Not a sound was heard. Blue shifted his body back to the bar and picked up his whiskey with his left hand, taking his eyes off Johnny. He could still see him in the dark mirrored reflection of a picture.

Kneeling, Johnny quickly went for his gun. Blue caught the hand movement, leaned his left hand against the bar. Lifting his right leg up and to the side, he shot through his holster and caught the wiry man thorough the upper part of his heart.

“It was a fair shooting,” said the man who had previously made a negative remark, as if he didn’t want to be on his black list.

“Why?” The bartender said shaking his head.

The Meeting of the Lady in White
Chapter Two

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Arizona Blue–Gunfighter: Wild Flower [Part one of Two]

Arizona Blue–Gunfighter

Wild Flower

[Episode Two: Tombstone – 1882]

[Tombstone, Arizona–1882] Arizona-Blue wiped the dust off his pants as he dismounted his horse, Dan. Another town he said to himself. He hadn’t been back in Arizona going on four-years. It was nice to be back in Tombstone, it was a place he usually avoided though, because of the gunfighters and he loved them dearly, but when they got together in a town like Tombstone, or Deadwood, the law was never orderly. But why look for them, they’d find him if need be. He was like an alcoholic when it came to shoot outs, or show downs. He knew it. He couldn’t avoid a fight. So like a good alcoholic, he was a loner, it was best to be alone he’d tell himself: ‘…better to be alone than be caught in the grips of your fancy.’ But Tombstone was on his way to Wyoming. He had just left New Mexico. Things were pretty hot for him down there; after a shootout in a saloon that is. The bartender started a fight where four-men had lost their lives, he had shot one. They hung the saloonkeeper. It was best to get going before too many minds got together and thought of lynching him.

Tombstone sprawled across a treeless plateau in the southeastern part of Arizona. And Blue, remembering the cockfights held in a roped-off area on the outskirts of town from years back, and needing to make a few bucks, some spending money, it would be more favorable on him for reentering the town, broke. Maybe he could make a few more bucks. And maybe some of his old friends were around. He also needed to land a job for a season, and often times there was need for a man with his skills, and talents.

He remembered a few years back in l879, how the fever of the silver mines was in every ones conversations, and money was but a hand shake away–like in Deadwood. Many mine owners needed guards, gunmen to protect them. In the surrounding hills there were many mines, and miners back then. But now he had heard of some mines that were yielding ore, and making the town even richer.

Blue pulled up to a wooden post in town, he tied his reigns to it, and started heading to a saloon but a few feet away. Three men were standing on the wooden sidewalk, one tall with a derby hat, long beard, white shirt and old suit jacket. The one in the middle wore kind of a conductors hat, and the one on his left, a bit taller than the one in the middle, mustache, and a small rounded hat, standing with his right hand in his pocket, like a chair ready to fall back at the least bit of wind. He stood with a hand in his pocket as if he it was frozen as he stared at Blue walking toward him on the wooden sidewalk.

Blue was close to five food nine inches tall; a rugged looking fellow, especially when unshaven, with dusty close and hat. His gun hung heave on his side, and low. He wore his colt pistol tight against his body though, especially before he’d go into a down like this, so there’d be no flopping of his holster; cleaned shaved for most occasions, except for now, as he had just arrived in town–with his bushy auburn sideburns, natural waves to his hair; square chin, a good looking fellow most woman would say.

The saloon was next-door to a pawnshop–two, stories high. Blue looked up and down Allen Street, sizing up everything. A man with a tie and dressed in black was making his way across the muddy street to the other side, from Macalister & Company, not far from a shoe store. He was a natural for details. Maybe that was why he lived so long he thought. Thirty-four men he killed since he left home at the age of eighteen. He was considered the fastest gun alive. No exceptions to the past either.

The saloon had three windows in front. One on the right hand side and one above the door and another one on the left hand side of the building. He often liked not to be too close to windows. Too many people new his face in Arizona; and outside of Arizona, too many knew his name. And too many people would like to shoot him in the back, as they had done to Wild Bill Hickok, back in l876, in Deadwood. Blue remembered that well. He was in Deadwood that day, but missed the action, he had already been shot. Matter-of-fact, he hadn’t been back there for a spell; he never liked the narrow streets, but he was thinking of heading on down there, or up there, he knew Lola, an old girlfriend.

Blue walked past the three men, slowly. The tall one whispered:

“Looks like one of the Masterson Brothers except for the mustache.”

The middle man turned to look, he caught Arizona’s eyes, then quickly turned away:

“It’s Arizona-Blue, just look at his eyes, they’re as blue as the sky.”

The third man noted also, saying:

“Yaw, could be, could be, I saw him in town some years back–a loner, a mean kind of loner.”

Arizona swung the door to the saloon open, a few eyes from within turned towards him. He checked the place out as a matador would prior to entering a bullring; or a prize fighter checking out his prey, just before the bell rang. The bartender stood behind the bar squint-eyed, trying to see if who the stranger was: cleaned shaved, white shirt, hair groomed with axel grease, about 5’9″, a vest of white and black silk, and a gun in a glass case behind him, as to imply he was ready in case of trouble.

To the right, a man was smoking a cigar, leaning in a chair with only two legs of the chair supporting him, as he laid his right hand on the table, the other dangling to his side. He was playing with some silver dollars, by himself. To his right, a card game was going on. Five fellows were playing, not paying much attention to the breeze coming through the door. Standing not too far from the card game another man watched the players; as if checking out a few of the fellow’s hands.

Just then the tall man from outside looked in with another fellow, pointing at Blue:

“Yaw,” said the tall man’s friend, “that’s Blue all right.”

The words echoed into every ones ears in the bar. Even the card game stopped. Silence filled the long slim barroom. You could tell they had all heard of his reputation, and Tombstone was just a place where a crazy gunslinger could practice his trade with out too much trouble. It was just a year ago [1881] the gunfight took place at the OK Corral. Blue had met the Earp’s some years back. He was more of a shrewd business man he had thought than a gunfighter. He thought it funny Wyatt made it out of the OK Corral alive.

Pulling his hat off, Arizona commented: “I’m just here for a drink, fellows, not looking for trouble.”

Blue starred at the bottles of whiskey across from him, scotch to be exact.

“The names Jake, Mr. Blue,” said the saloonkeeper.

“Glad to meet you Jake,” replied Blue, “give me a double shot of the scotch, and beer to chase it down.”

From the backdoor, an Indian woman came in. She was caring some wood for the cast-iron stove that stood against the wall of the left side of the room. She was tall, taller thought Blue, taller than the average Indian woman. And he knew most of the tribes in the area.

She couldn’t be Sioux, or Chippewa, they were too far to the north. She didn’t look like a Comanche he told himself, because she wore buckskin. She had tinsel and beads as ornaments around her nick. She was very pretty, strong looking, and warrior like. There was grace in her movements, and pride he told himself, in her face. He liked looking at her, and he liked her make up.

As he stared at the Indian woman putting the fire wood down, it brought him back to memories of his childhood. His father had beaten his first wife to death while drinking one night, he was a drunk–his mother was his third wife; and on a number of occasions swung at him, but missed most of the time, he was fast in the ducking. It was hard to keep your head up he remembered, after being hit a few times, but he died when Blue was fourteen, too much booze or something. His heart just stopped one day, and that was it. They were tough times then and after; he then went into the Civil War, he was 25-years old then. He was kinder to his mother than he was to his previous wives, he thought. He drank on occasions, but not like he had prior to meeting his mother. The love he wanted, he probably never got, but then he’d think, he could had been worse, he could had been born to one of his other wives and beat to death as a child, although he never beat his daughter Sarah, his step-sister.

It seemed to Blue, as he watched her every move; she was trying hard to get that respect also. She tried to keep her chin level with her shoulders, to show at one time she possessed dignity. But Blue noticed it fell short of what she wanted, as she glanced at his starring.

“Say Jake, who’s the Indian woman?”

“The squaw belongs to Todd Lukas, the gentleman sitting down over there.”

Blue looked. It was the man playing with the silver dollars, a checkered suit coat, vest, and timepiece with a golden chain hanging so everyone could see it: a big cigar in his mouth.

“A big shot, haw!” Blue mentioned lightly-loud, somewhat under his breath, but enough to make a little echo. Todd looked towards the bar, not sure if he was or was-not, part of Blues conversation.

“Curiosity Mr. Blue,” said the bartender.

“You could say that. Can’t figure out what tribe she’s from.”

“Save you some time, she’s Osages,” said Todd Lukas. From afar, as if he had ears as sharp as Blue’s eyes.

“She does odd jobs around here…” said Jake the bartender, almost reluctantly, yet hoping there wouldn’t be any trouble; as if he helped with the conversation so Blue’s mind would be off Lukas.

He added: “I pay” Jake hesitated, then commented: “Mr. Lukas for it.”

“I thought slavery went out in ’65,” commented Blue.

“Well, if you must know mister,” replied Todd, “I own her, heart and soul. Ok!”

“How’s that?” asked Blue.

“That’s none of your business, even to you, gunslinger,” said Lukas as he stood up from his chair.

Blue look about, he noticed there wasn’t much room in the bar, and right by Jake was his cash register, and right by that his gun and rifle in the glass box; mirrors on each side. Blue took a quick look into Jakes eyes, made a little smile, almost a sneer, and Jake moved closer to the cash resister, and away from the guns. Blue then shifted his focus to Todd, although Jake knew Blue could still see him with his peripheral vision.

“I don’t, like your attitude, Mr. Lukas.”

Blue’s hand was already lowered to his holster. His double shot of whiskey was already finished. Blue added with a calm vice, as steady as a cats purr: “You better be fast mister,” adding, “I love to shoot, I’m like an alcoholic, can’t help taking the next step–early…eee.” and he slurred the early part of the word, like a cat.

Blue looked about the room. Everyone remained silent. No one moved. They knew the game. Any movements would be taken for assistance on Mr. Lukas’ behalf. And it looked to Blue, he didn’t have a lot of friends in the bar. Plus out of the several people in the bar, only a few had guns on anyway; and they looked more like farmers and ranchers than gunfighters. And he knew by the looks of things, they were not going to protect a vulture, not with their lives anyhow.

“You know how to use that Smith & Wesson Schofield .45?” asked Blue.

Todd was silent. And he did know how to use the gun. Todd was somewhat known throughout the area as not being afraid of Wyatt Earp, or for that matter Bat Masterson, but then Blue wasn’t either. Blue new the name Lukas, although he didn’t let on. To him he was simply another cowhand who thought he was quick with skinning his gun.

Todd looked at his gun on his hip took a step away from the table.

“You know Todd,” said Blue “Jesse James’s choice.” Todd looked dumfounded, not knowing what Blue was saying. “The gun mister,” said Blue as if insulting his knowledge about guns. Now Todd knew, Jesse hand the same kind of gun.

“So what,” said Todd with irritation? Than looked at Blue with burning eyes.

“Let’s get down to business, Mr. Lukas, go for it, and skin that gun. Go oooooooo!”

“Listen Blue,” said Todd with a shaky voice, “the sheriff in town is a good friend of mine…”

“He can die just as fast as you can,” responded Blue with a low voice, calm as still-water.

“So walk away big man, but leave the girl behind, she’s free.”

“I can do that,” replied Todd.”

“Mr. Lukas,” commented Blue, “…it’s only money, and a woman. She’s not worth your life is she?”

“Maybe I can beat you,” said Todd.

Blue shock his head, said to himself: he took my grace as weakness.

Just about this time Todd got more confidence, and took another two steps to position himself according to his aim to be.

The woman looked sharp at Lukas–, almost wanting him to start shooting. At that moment, the woman ran to Jakes guns behind the bar, broke the glass with her hands, cutting them, and pulling a gun out, and dropped the pistil on the floor. She was full of tears, yelling:

“I want to kill him, let me!!”

The whole saloon was on edge now; the bartender still standing by the cash resister, the Indian woman bleeding at the end of the bar, looking at the gun on the floor. The card players looking at their hands, and making sure no one switched cards, as they watched the gunfight about to take place. And the two from outside the bar gawking through the crack of the door.

“Let’s go Mister Lukas, were losing time, I need another shot, and some food, I had a long ride.”

“Answer question Mr. Blue,” asked Todd Lukas, “listen, there is really no need to fight. I’m not a gunfighter, although I’m not bad with a gun. I won the Indian down in a card game in Arkansas. She was married to a drunken Indian; I gave him $100, for her. She’s simply working the money off.”

“How long she was working the money off, Mr. Lukas?”

“That’s none of your business again,” said Mr. Lukas with a smirk.

“So she’s a married woman?” inferred Blue getting more irritated and about to push Lukas to shoot.

Now the whole bar was looking at Todd and Blue’s hands, as if one would surprise the other with a quick draw; perhaps thinking, Todd was talking to Blue to distract him, for they had seen him do that before.

Said the woman (with a crying voice):

“He killed my husband–he, he gave money to drink to my husband, he do, he-e drank much, he swell tongue in night. He took me then. My husband and I went to get supplies, Fort Gibson.”

“I saved you from that drunken bum, bitch!!” Said Todd, with a roaring voice.

“You save-me for yo–for wh-ore. My husband bad… but not ba-a like yu.” She stopped and wiped her eyes, kicked the gun away from her feet, as if to tell Blue, she was over her emotional hate. That she would not get in the way.

Blue looked into her deep black eyes. She had lovely features; long black hair. But she was tired. Worn to the point she looked ten years older then her 20’s, an unhealthy looking skin color, but strong features. There was now a little hope in the glitter of her eyes. She held herself up by the end of the wooden bar, as her legs seem to be like noodles fighting to gain strength, and tighten the elasticity–.

She was all of five foot seven inches tall; large bosom, and a shapely figure beyond that, if one looked beyond her silted clothing, and scabbed legs, and cut feet that is, she was lovely. Her hair touched her waist, uneven, and with some snarls. She had strong looking hands; veins perturbing from her reddish-brown skin, coffee colored check bones.

“What’s your name?” asked Blue, as he pretended not to notice Todd, making him quite insufficient for the moment, and posing as being off guard; two could play the game he thought.

“It is Wild-flower,” she responded with a half smile, as if it took all her energy to talk.

“And where is your tribe. I’ve heard of your band. Though they became extinct years ago, I thought?”

Responded Wild Flower, calmly, after catching her voice from all that was happening:

“Yes, we are not many; all that is left is one-hundred or so, maybe less. But many years ago, there were 5000-of us; maybe more, so many I could not count them all.” She coughed a little, got some more air into her lungs, and continued, “…small-pox killed many. War …and the tribe split, years ago. I was just a kid then. We were mighty warriors.” She ended proudly, pushing her chin back with the little strength she had left.

Blue had heard many things about her tribe, and what she had said was mostly true he thought. It is too bad he thought how a mighty tribe passes with the wind, as if time ate it up. As if it never was. Who would know?

“Well,” Blue said with a confirming voice: “you are free to go wherever you want, back to wherever, go Wild Flower…while you can.”

She looked at Todd. His face was as red as her lips. His eyes were filled with anger, hate, and revenge. Todd stared at Wild Flower as if his prize was being taken away. Blue could see all his movements from his peripheral vision, as he centered in the middle of his chest. Every twitch he made with his leg movements were caught by Blue.

Continued in Part Two…

Written 1990, revised 12/2001, originally
Published 2002; revised August, 2005

Dennis Siluk’s web site:

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Are They Driving You Crazy?

I don’t know why women got a reputation for being bad drivers – unless pushing supermarket carts counts as driving. I think I’m a good driver. After all, I spent seven years driving in New York City. When I sang “New York, New York”, I changed the words. I sang “If you can drive it there, you can drive it anywhere. New York. New York”.

When I drive, I follow the rules of the road, while trying not to follow the car in front of me too closely. I stop for pedestrians crossing the street; but on freeways I’m the one who’s crossing – my fingers. I know I’m driving too fast when I can’t read the vanity plates on the cars I’m passing.

Unlike most Californians, I don’t slow down to look at accidents. I don’t think that flat tires and overheated engines are “cartastrophes”. New Yorkers don’t slow down to look at accidents – even it they’re involved in them.

My biggest problem with California drivers isn’t that they change lanes more than I change my mind about what to wear to a “dressy casual” cocktail party. It’s that they don’t use their directional signals. Unfortunately, these Kamikaze lane changers come in a variety of styles.

There are mathematical lane changers. Knowing the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, they cross three lanes of traffic to an exit. Then there are the Weight Watcher’s lane changers. They try to cut in front of you, can’t fit in and cause you to break so they can squeeze in. Last but not least, there are the dancing-with-the-stars lane changers. They don’t actually change lanes. They waltz back and forth between them. It takes two to tango, but it only takes one to cause an accident.

Thankfully, some drivers warn you that they’re dangerous. Drivers struggling with the folds of a map don’t have to look far to find an accident and drivers looking in the rear-view mirror to put on makeup look like wrecks.

Defensive driving means paying attention to other drivers so you don’t have to pay for their mistakes. Gun fighters in the old west had a notch on their belts for each person they gunned down. Maybe bad drivers should have a notch on their license plates for each accident they cause. Nevertheless, to all drivers who want to drive safely on the freeways I say, “Tanks”.

KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life. Take a minute to make yourself smile at

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Bat Masterson – The First Batman

On October 25, 1921 one of the Old West’s best-known pistolareos died. We don’t even know him by his real name, but a nickname…that; again, historians disagree about how he got it. His name was William Barclay Masterson. Or was it Bartholomew Masterson? It seems he changed the story about his name throughout his life. But it doesn’t matter because we know him as Bat Masterson.

The story of why he was called Bat…also varies. Some say it was short for Bartholomew….while others say it was because he would club or “bat” people over the head with the cane that he always carried. One movie says it was because as a boy he could shoot flying bats out of the air.

Although most of his life he was a dapper dresser and sophisticated person, he didn’t start out that way. He grew up in a Kansas homesteader family with little education. As a young adult he want to Dodge City, where he became a buffalo hunter…one of the dirtiest jobs to be had. This is where legend says he became friends with Wyatt Earp. Bat Masterson later followed Wyatt to Tombstone, and he might have been involved in the O. K. Corral Shootout had Bat not left before the shootout to help his brother.

Bat Masterson, along with Wyatt Earp, was one of the very few gun fighters to live to a ripe old age.

What most people don’t know about Bat is that he spent the last years of his life living in New York City where he became the sports editor of the New York Morning Telegraph….and that’s where he died of natural causes while sitting at his desk.

This has been another story from Dakota Livesay of Chronicle of the Old West. For more stories like this one go to

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I Was A Real Cowboy And A Good One

One day you wake up and all your hero’s are gone. My Father is gone (more on a Mission he flew in a later post), my Great Grandfather is long gone. Its at these times you are thankful you stashed away write ups and articles on them that, at the time when they were living, just went on the back burner. Below is a write up on my Great Grandfather done by a reporter by the name of Robert Ford in Oklahoma many years ago. Every time I read it, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I always thought I should of lived 100 years ago. I always wanted to be like my Grandpa. Now I know why. I hope you enjoy the article.

Jessie James, Cole Younger, Geronimo all notorious names from American History of the’ “Old West”. To us today these are just names out of the past. We think of it as only history. But the (days of the true old West were again relived when Ivisited Peoples Electric Cooperative’s eldest member-a 97 year old true American cowboy from the days of the old west.

Jim Ingram was born in May of 1866 in Coffee County, Tennessee. When he was 2 years old, his family moved to Indian Territory by ox wagon. At an early age his mother died. When he was 7 his father died, and he has been on his own ever since.

Jim Ingram still shaves himself, and he has very few gray hairs in his full head of black hair. He does not look his 97 years. He and Mrs. Ingram live on Route 2, Wyneewood, Oklahoma, where they have lived since 1919. The Ingram’s have been happily married since the Spring of 1899. They have one son, one grandson and two granddaughters. Their grandson is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.

“I worked with stock and cattle all my life until I retired,” says Ingram. “And I have made many cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail from the Red River to Kansas. I have rode across Oklahoma when I would never see a white man. There were not many houses and no fences.”

“Did you ever meet any of the old gun fighters and outlaws of those days?” I asked. “Oh, sure!” he answered, “I’ve seen a lot of gun fighters while I worked cattle all over Oklahoma. I knew Jessie James quite well, but I knew Cole Younger even better. They would come to our cattle drive camps to hide out. I’ve slept in camp with them many a time. Jessie James was as peaceful a man as I ever saw. “He did not bother poor folks, only robbed banks.”

“Well,” I said, “I guess you have had a lot of interesting experiences?”

“Tell him about the time a tornado like to have got you.” said Mrs. Ingram.

“Well,” he said, “once I was riding my horse when this storm blew up

A tornado picked me and my horse up in the air. I could pull on the reins, but I had no control of my horse because we were up in the air, but I don’t know how high. It was so black I couldn’t see. Pretty soon, it set us down on the ground.

“Were you injured?” I asked. “No, we weren’t hurt.” he replied. “You know,” he said, “I’ve seen wild buffalo where Oklahoma City now stands. I roped buffalo and killed them for meat.”

“I once worked issuing government beef to the Comanche and Apache Indians. The Indians would kill the cattle on the spot. I saw them eat the meat blood raw. When they were finished, there wouldn’t be anything left. They used it all.”

“There was a time when you saw an Indian, and if the Indian did not run, you had better run.”

“Once, I had a horse race with Geronimo at Ft. Sill when they had him there.”

“Who won?” I asked.

“By granny, I won the race!” he replied.

One time a friend and I went to an Indian dance, but the Indians wouldn’t dance with us. Quanah Parker’s daughter pinned an Indian blanket around me so they would dance with me. I still have that pin. Quanah Parker’s daughter could speak better English than I could.”

The stories we read today, the T.V. and movies we see about the “Old West” do not tell the true story of the life of the cowboy. Spending hours in the saddle is hard work. It was hot and dusty in the summer and cold and wet in the winter.

“You see men today,” said Mr. Ingram, “who say they are cow boys, but they could not wear the slicker of the old real cowboys. I could tie a steer in 22 seconds, and would catch 99 throws out of 100. When we drove cattle, we had a lot of mean horses, and we had to ride them without holding to the saddle horn. If you held to the horn, the other cowboys would whip your horse and make him buck. I was a real cowboy and a good one.”

Thank you Mr. Ford, where ever you are for the memories. You were a great reporter and my Great Grandfather was a real cowboy! Please visit and donate to the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum in Oklahoma, City, OK. Until next time.


Dwane M. Ingram is the CEO and Head Writer for

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What Were the Guys Who Did the Shooting Called in the Days of the Old West?

If you were living back in the days of the Old West — what would you call the guys famous for quick draws and dead-eyed use of their pistols? Would they be gunfighters? Or gunmen? Perhaps “pistoleros,” if you lived the southwestern part of the country?

Most sources I’ve read suggest that you probably wouldn’t have called these folks “gunfighters” or “gunmen” — at least not early on. Those terms were used in the later periods of Old Western history and lore, probably after the 1870s or ’80s, for someone who was also known as a “shootist.” You know the people I’m talking about I’m sure. In our post-Western movie times, these were the guys (almost always guys) who had the pistols and were not afraid or hesitant at all to use them.

The terms “gunfighter” and related words such as “gunslinger” or even just “gunmen” are part of the way popular writers throughout the years have romanticized the realities and distorted the events of life in the Old West. In fact, most people’s lives were a mixture of daily boredom and sudden, unexpected violence — with little of the heroic battles the dime novels and modern-day Westerns made it out to be.

According to one very useful resource on the history and language usage of the Old West, writer Winfred Blevins’ fascinating “Dictionary of the American West,” “gunfighter” and “gunmen” as well as “gunfight” and “gunfighting” all came along in the late 1800s — and there was never any distinction made between “gunfighter” as the sort of good guy or “gunman” as the bad guy, which seems sometimes true in a lot of television and movie Westerns. And interestingly also, Blevins suggests that such terms almost always referred to pistols rather than long guns, that is, rifles.

(Another term made famous in modern television and film Westerns is “shooting iron” in reference to handguns. Unlike “gunfighter” and its variations, “shooting iron” is pretty ancient, being found in literature written as long ago as 1787, according to Blevins.)

Apparently, the first use of “gunman” in print was done by a man who once was a gunman. It was in a 1903 New York newspaper article written by Old West lawman-turned-newspaper-sports-writer Bat Masterson. He also used the term “gunfighter” in his writings about his personal work and career as a lawman. The related term “gunslinger” really doesn’t rate as a true “Westernism,” having come from early 20th-Century writers, picked up, and quickly popularized by early Western movie writers and early pop fiction.

Another interesting and archaic term about those guys who carried and used their pistols is “gunsman,” which Blevins says goes back as early as the American Revolution — and probably wasn’t limited to handguns, but included muskets (the “rifles” of their day).

Guns and an entire culture surrounding them were crucial to the history of the Old West. They were used to sustain life on the Plains and in the mountains of the West as people used them to hunt food. And they were used to take life in all the Western warfare. Those terms we associate with cold, killer individuals who specialized in drawing their weapons to take lives hold a sort of romantic draw for fans of the Old West. We call them “gunfighters” or “gunmen” and either vilify or popularize them.

In reality, what we know about those men (and sometimes women) who used their handguns to shoot at other people has been mostly distorted and romanticized by the dime novelists and others who wanted to turn the boredom and sudden violence of life in the Old West to their own advantage. They wanted to gain readers and make a buck.

For more on what the guys with the pistols were called in the Old West and other features of life in the Old West, visit my website at

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Try a Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

There a multitude of West Rim chopper tours readily available, with departures from Las Vegas, Nevada. Some tour companies offer hotel pick-ups and drop-offs. Besides providing spectacular views of the Grand Canyon, many tours also fly over other well-known attractions, such as the Valley of Fire, the Las Vegas Strip, Lake Mead, Iceberg Canyon and the Hoover Dam

Grand Canyon National Park’s western region is the only location in the whole park where helis can land. It is situated approximately 120 miles east of Las Vegas. These aircraft can go down into the Inner Canyon, and land along side Colorado River. They offer awesome views of this park’s ancient strata.

The Grand Canyon’s western section features the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Opened up in 2007, this attraction is owned and operated by members from the Hualapai Native American tribe. The Sky Walk is made up of a 70-foot horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that stretches out of a sheer cliff. From this viewpoint, guests have extraordinary views of the Colorado River, which happens to be located 4,000 feel below.

This section of the park also includes The Indian Village, which contains genuine dwellings built by indigenous people. The village consists of five buildings, and a 250-seat amphitheater. Also, Hualapai Ranch, Guano Point and Eagle Point are part of this region’s best visitor hotspots. The Hualapai Ranch includes horseback rides, cowboy cookouts and covered-wagon rides, and live shows showcasing professional gun-fighters.

Grand Canyon West is a well-known, famous national treasure. It was chosen as a preserve after a 1903 visit from U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt. He was so in awe of the intriguing geological features and unique types of wildlife that he named the area as one of the country’s first national parks. On November 28, 1906, it was formally designated as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. Over the following years, the Roosevelt administration added in surrounding lands to this park. On January 11, 1908, it was re-designated as a United States National Monument.

This huge park includes numerous major ecosystems. It is the place to find a fantastic diversity of animals and plants. Of the 7 life zones identified in the world, 5 are found inside the park. They include the Hudsonian, Canadian, Transition, Upper Sonoran and the Lower Sonoran. All environments from Mexico to Canada are represented. The region’s numerous elevations come with a number of climates. The diverse climate-zones are the main factors that make up the varied life zones. The area boasts 34 distinct types of mammals, 48 bird species, and 129 vegetative communities.

The park’s wildlife includes Rocky Mountain Toads, red-spotted toads, coyotes, canyon tree frogs and bighorn sheep.. Also, moutain lions, weasels, gray foxes, bobcats, ring-tails, pocket mice, antelope squirrels, beavers, bald eagles, and 6 types of rattlesnakes call this environment home. Insect colonies include mites, moths, stoneflies, tarantula hawks, wasps, honeybees, beetles, fire ants, butterflies, mayflies and midges. A multitude of scorpions and spiders also inhabit the park. They include the tarantula and black widow spider.

Canyon helicopter tours to the West Rim offer a number of trips into this stunning park. Many fly from Vegas, with hotel pick-up and drop-off options available. Experiencing the park by air offers the most tremendous, panoramic views of this significant national treasure.

Mr. Plunket is a travel journalist who writes about all things Grand Canyon. He recommends this site for readers interested in low-price Grand Canyon helicopter tours.

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