Saturday, October 25, 2008

So what have I been up to in Bolivia since I got here?
Well, I've been staying with Jeff and Fawna Sutton in their apartment at the Red ADVenir Adventist TV station here in downtown Santa Cruz.
My first assignment has been to learn Spanish aviation phraseology. To accomplish this task I have received a significant amount of help. I know that people are praying for me at home and God has been honoring their prayers.
I went to the Trompillo Airport on Monday morning with my backpack and no idea what I was doing. Just getting there was a new adventure. I had to get verbal instructions to the airport and a briefing on how to catch a bus. Catching the bus was no problem, getting off at the right time and place is another matter. Thankfully I had a window seat and saw the airport just before we got there. I walked in through the GA gate which required two displays of ID just to get into the terminal and wandered around wondering what to do next. I wandered over to a group of pilots and tried to ask them in Spanish if I could get up in the tower. Of course they didn't understand and rounded up a guy who spoke good English to talk to me. He had me up in the tower within 4 min. After a week in the tower I am friends with all the air traffic control guys and they have helped me a lot. One of them speaks pretty good English and can answer all my questions. I've even got a chance to help them with their English assignments.
I've managed to grab a few pictures of tower life, but the real excitement would be impossible to catch with a camera. This is without a doubt the most congested airport in Bolivia. These guys really earn their pay. They are in charge of a 10,000ft single runway of which they can only see half from the tower and there is no taxi-way for the blind half of the runway. Of course they have no radar either and they are juggling a steady stream of Cessna 152s doing touch + gos with everything up to 727s mixed in. A very interesting place to say the least.

This is the picture I've been trying to get all week. Talk about multitasking...when was the last time you answered two phones at once? It happens about once a day. The trick was having the camera ready for instant use.

Trompillo airport at peak usage. There are at least as many in the air trying to land as you see on the ground. Just before I took this picture a C-130 had to go around because one of the commuter turboprops was backtaxiing too slow. Then the pilot had to circle around, follow a 727 in on final approach and both had to wait at the end of the runway for a couple Cessna 152s to land before they could taxi to the ramp.

A full rack of flight strips. This controler has his hands full. He is juggling about 4 training airplanes in the pattern, a bunch more in the practice areas as well as air-taxi, commuter and airline arrivals.

At high volume times there are three on duty so no double-phoning is neccessary.

This is the front yard of the apartment complex that Jeff and Fawna live in. It is nice to have a little piece of nature in the middle of the city.

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