The Pilot

By Chip Cipollini

I was assigned to ride the fence, and cut sign out in the sand hills, in New Mexico, I had worked out there a couple of years mostly with Jim Dove and they thought I knew somet’in, and a new PI was assigned with me. He was small in statue, ruddy complexion, blue eyed, and blond, as skinny as I was (28”waist). He told me his name was McKinney, I never did know his first name, and if he told me I don’t member! I believe it was Bill, but at this age, hey, what do you expect!!

As we are riding along the fence, which was new at the time, (don’t ask me when), cutting sign, when Joe Turner (who was killed by some jealous nut in Las Cruces, NM) our ELPT pilot, flying in aTayor Cub went by, and McKinney said he was a pilot and flew the same type of aircraft. He jointed the Patrol to be one of our pilots. I replied “what are doing in this jeep?” He said the Table of Organization was full, at this paticular time, they didn’t need any more pilots, but he would keep trying. It is very strange, if someone knows, or friendly with, or donates a quality sum to a senator’s reelection campaign, it is amazing how the Table falls apart.

Where did you do your flying? McKienny stated he was from Sanderson, Texas and did almost all of his flying there, hunting Eagles. Hunting Eagles? What do they taste like. Oh! I don’t shoot them to eat. You shoot Eagles? Yes, I fly all over the Terrell county hunting and shooting Eagles. Why? Because the ranchers pay me to hunt and kill Eagles. Why?

Because the Eagles kill and eat the newborn sheep. They raise sheep in Terrell County, I did not know they raised sheep in Texas, because I was station in Hebbronville, and received a distinct disrespect for any kind of ranching but cattle. Did you know that more cattle were shipped out of Hebbronville than anywhere in the State of Texas? No!

McKinney stated when he hunted Eagles, he carried and shot them with a shotgun. Is it easy to shoot them?  No it is not, you have to fly the airplane, get fairly close to shoot, and one does not always succeed, one has the wind factor to content with, and believe it or not, Eagles can fly 90 (ninety) miles an hour and just when you’re ready to shoot, an Eagle can make a 90 degree turn, going that fast, and by the time you get the gun, the Eagle is at you tail. And they fly near the cliffs where the wind rises, and I cannot get close because I’ll hit the canyon wall. They also fly into small crevices in the canyons.

Hey, these birds are smart. He admitted that they were, indeed!

McKinney said he only saw, and hunted black Eagles, but this one time he saw an Eagle with a white head, the first one he had ever seen, and was determined to shoot him. He stated it was the toughest bird he had ever hunted. This big bird could fly. But, I finally shot him. I landed and picked up the bird, flew home, and took it to the restaurant, to see if someone could identify this Eagle. Someone, indeed, did identify the Eagle, a Golden Eagle, and stated that it was illegal to capture, cage, or shoot a white headed Eagle. So he found a large garbage pail, and threw the bird inside.

Of course, there is always, (very much in our Service), someone who is going to rat, and they did, and McKinney informed me that the FBI came to Sanderson, spoke to him, and took him to court, where he was fined. The ranchers paid all costs, so it wasn’t so bad!!!

I never did find out how much the ranchers paid for each Eagle, but it must have been a healthy price, considering the aircraft, fuel, pilot, weapon, and time.

He did not remain in ELPT for any great length of time. I wonder where he went, and is!!

  JT Chip