Dan Mooney: Flag on ‘C’ Hill will need some attention soon

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The day after 9/11, exactly 12 years ago, I was taking my morning hike up the lower “C” Hill trail with my dog. I stopped to talk to Gill Ayarbe, who I had seen on the trail before but usually just passed with a brief time of day. This time we stopped and ruminated about the attacks the previous day. Gil waved up at the “C” and remarked, “wouldn’t it be great to have a large flag up there?” I responded, “you betcha; if you round up the money, I’ll build the flag.”

Our first task was to find the land owner. Because Gil had been a land surveyor, it wasn’t long before we learned that the U.S. Forest Service was the steward of the land. Several days later, a Forest Service representative met us on the hill. He declared that if we were allowed to put a flag up there, the ACLU might have something to say about it. As he started hoofing it back to his office at the bottom of the hill, I phoned a friend who had access to the governor. Within two days, we had authority to build the flag.

Gil raised $15,000 within three weeks while I enlisted Josh Buscay, a very fine commercial artist who designed the flag and the dimensions of the banner material from which the first flag was made.

From there, the three of us started inventing the steel understructure composed of 6-foot “dead man” holes in which huge rocks were buried with attached cables that ran to steel piping on the surface. Wooden beams were bolted to the pipes to which the flag material was attached. Within one month, the flag, made of strong banner material, was finished.

Unfortunately, about a year later, a wind of some 80 mph ripped the flag from the hill. During several meetings of the “C” Hill Flag Foundation, it was decided to hire a construction company to rebuild the flag from material expected to withstand 100 mph winds as well as whatever severe weather would befall the structure, including temperature and UV rays.

The group chose Allumalite, a heavy aluminum-coated two-sided material with the same colors on both sides, each side guaranteed to last 10 years. Our plan was to occasionally review the surface reflectivity and, if needed, flip the Allumalite panels for another 10 years of service.

The Forest Service ordered us to sand the surface of each panel to reduce the glare, implying that without sanding, the reflected light would interfere with airline traffic visibility. This was done, even though we employed an expert analyst who submitted a formal report of the material’s reflectivity. He documented the surfaces to be within the acceptable reflectivity range. The sanding, of course, voided the 10-year warranty.

The flag now may require some maintenance, and the blue star field is starting to fade. This further reduces reflectivity and, therefore, visibility.

As all can see, the “C” is in poor shape. Concurrent with maintenance of the flag, the “C” should be restored to its original luster.

The outpouring of community support during flag construction was phenomenal. Before the flag was torn from the hill by strong winds, nearly 100 volunteers in one day removed the banners, washed them and attached them more securely to the steel pipes.

When this flag needs restoration, a like number of volunteers will be needed. You may be asked to participate when that time comes.

Dan Mooney, a 40-year Carson City resident, may be reached at Nevada4@aol.com.


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