A grass-roots effort to construct a permanent flag on C Hill was dealt another blow Monday after a Chinook helicopter airlifting concrete to the project site lost its load during takeoff.
A nine-member Nevada Army National Guard crew operating the helicopter airlift for training quickly returned to the field at Carson Middle School after the metal platform carrying bags of concrete snapped a few feet from the ground.
"It's not going to happen today," said Chief Warrant Officer Sean Laycox, D-Company, 113th Aviation. "We were hoping to get it all done for 'em today."
Neighbors living around the field began complaining of noise and blowing dust shortly after the massive military helicopter delivered its first load to a group of volunteers waiting on C Hill.
The school field was a prime spot for the operation, providing a clear view of the hill above. But after the load snapped, organizers will likely choose another staging area away from residences to complete the job.
"The good news is, it broke here and not over anybody's house," said City Supervisor Robin Williamson, a member of the C Hill Foundation.
The mishap will delay the project at least a week, but organizers weren't discouraged, Robinson said. The foundation was planning to complete the job by July 4.
"There's an ongoing sense that we will do this," Robinson said.
The group has faced one obstacle after another in its quest to permanently affix Old Glory overlooking the city. The C Hill Foundation began after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sparked local patriotism. The first flag was destroyed after 100 mph winds shredded it off its wooden frame.
Since then, the foundation raised thousands of dollars from people throughout the country, who have also donated labor. The final, 8,000-square-foot flag, made of 390 individual panels bolted onto a frame, will cost an estimated $30,000 to $40,000.
Placed on U.S. Forest Service land, the group had to find the right paint and materials to meet federal standards. The flag will be painted with a non-shiny surface to minimize glare.
A few government agreements and permits later, the flag pieces are now in storage and ready to be mounted. The cement will fill 55 holes to hold the flag's framework.
"The more people learn about it, the more people realize how complicated it is," Robinson said.
Miles Brothers Construction donated labor and a water truck to the site Monday, wetting down surrounding dirt to minimize flying dust. United Rentals donated a forklift.
School neighbor Bill O'Shaughnessy said "all hell broke loose" when the massive rotors started. The wind kicked up dirt into his driveway and blew down his own American flag displayed for Flag Day. He bolted the metal pole down again after the first blowdown, but decided to give it a rest after it landed on his lawn the second time.
"It looks like God is saying 'don't put the flag up today'," O'Shaughnessy said. "They're literally trading one flag for another."
He figured the flag needed a wash anyway, he joked as he unhitched it from the post.
"There are much bigger things going on than this," he said.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.