Contributors, August 2012

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While reporting “Boom Times”, about the 21st-century survivalist movement known as prepping, Emily Matchar visited a handful of sophisticated bunkers and attended a South Carolina convention. “As someone who was raised to believe a gun in the house will inevitably lead to somebody getting shot in the head, it was fun to be in a room with 500 people, 95 percent of whom had a concealed-carry permit,” she says. When Matchar returned home to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she saw her house a little differently, too. “I flipped through my kitchen cupboards and thought, Well, we'll last about 10 days, and that's it.”

To document the world's largest search-and-rescue training exercise, held over 40,000 square miles of southern Arizona and New Mexico last October, L.A. photographer Bryce Duffy hitched a ride on an Army Black Hawk helicopter flying with its doors open. Just before takeoff, the copilot did a preflight check, which included Duffy's harness. “He gave it a tug, and it opened right up,” says Duffy, who has trained his lens on everything from Texas oil country to Hollywood celebrities. “It's a good thing he did, because at one point the helicopter banked so hard that my camera flew out of my hands. The only thing that saved it from the void was the strap around my neck. I couldn't help thinking that could have been me.”

We dispatched Dean King to rural Doswell, Virginia, for “Catch Me If You Can,” about the community's massive effort last October to locate an autistic boy in an 85-acre wilderness. King, author of Skeletons of the Zahara, came away impressed by the dedication of the volunteers and search-and-rescue professionals. “But as much planning as it involved,” says King, who is working on a book about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, “it was an almost mystical act that ended the search. Miraculous endings have been a part of many other rescues, and people truly believe it was God watching out for the child.”

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