Wednesday, February 4, 2009

GUMPS, GUMPS, UMPS and and Kites

Friday was January 30 and I had the Mooney back. Praise God! When it is airworthy I love it and when it isn´t, I tolerate it.
The plans are going forward to expand the orphanage/primary school in Rurrenabaque to include a secondary program. On Friday I took a Bolivian family to check the place out, they are both teachers at the school in GY. It is 250 miles to Rurrenabaque and we didn´t get off till 3pm because of rain and wet runways. Instead of a 2.5 hour trip in the 182 at economy cruise we made it in 2 hours burning only 7 gals an hour. I like Mooneys....but I need to remember those wheels are up until I put them down. For the last 100 hours of flying my prelanding check has been this: Gas-on both, Undercarriage-down and bolted (forever), Mixture-rich, Prop-forward, Switches-landing light on for cows and people on the runway. With the Mooney I had to remember not to brush over the Undercarriage part. You better believe I was doing my Mooney gumps a bunch of times before touchdown. Gas-on full tank, Undercarrige-down, check indicator on floor, on panel, selector handle, DOWN, Mixture-rich, Prop-forward, Switches-Boost Pump, Landing light, Strobe, ON. And repeat and repeat and Undercariage, Mixture Prop and land...
Definately worth the trouble for the extra speed and fuel efficiency.
Sunday I left Rurrenabaque at 6:30am and flew the family back to GY. Then I had a plan for 2 round trips between Trinidad and GY, about 500 miles a round trip. There were two families of Brasilians in Trinidad headed to Brasil to help with the GMI projects there. I had asked Chichito to find some passengers for me for the GY-Trinidad legs of the trips that would be empty. When I arrived in GY he said he had three passengers. A friend of his was organizing it and said something about one being sick or a nurse (the two words sound similar). I taxied to the gas pumps and loaded up with gas and waited, and waited and waited in the rain. I wouldn´t have waited long if they hadn´t told me that one of the ´passengers´had gunshot wounds. Then we heard that the ambulance had run out of gas, so it would be ´7 minutes´ which in Bolivia means about 45 min. Finally the man arrived. He was huge for a Bolivian but we got him into the Mooney with his daughter and the nurse. I flew them to Trinidad and on downwind for runway 32 I was doing my GUMPS and the tower called me on the radio and said something about continuing to Santa Cruz, I just ignored them and did another GUMPS and asked for clearance to land, which they gave. When I landed and shut the engine off there was a flurry of people around the airplane. The Brasilians were there along with the man´s family and nobody was speaking English or even trying to speak to me. I couldn´t even get out. Finally I yelled through my tiny pilot window for Daniel to come translate for me. I had offered to take the man to Santa Cruz but his daughter said the Trinidad was better for them. I wondered because Santa Cruz has the only real hospitals in the lowlands, Trinidad doesn´t have much. Anyway turns out they did want to go to Santa Cruz and had a ticket out of Trinidad, but the flight got canceled. That is what the tower had been trying to tell me. When I discovered that I ran to the office and got a new flight plan for Santa Cruz and we were off again. It was an interesting flight. We were in and out of the clouds and I was trying to dodge the worst of them for the man´s comfort. Then approach kept asking me for what kind of ambulance I wanted at the destination. In between estimates and talking on the radio I had to ask in Spanish, with no headsets what kind of ambulance the people wanted. Finally the communication was accomplished but it was a challenge. Then as I approached Santa Cruz I became aware, through listening to the position reports on the radio, of a Bolivian small plane at the same distance out and 2000 feet above me. I expected to out run him because I had the Mooney at 24/24 and we were doing about 185 mph. Instead we stayed even for about 10 miles. The controller started asking for position reports every 2 miles and it was interesting. I reported 48 miles and 7000, the Bolivian reported 48 and 9000 feet. Then we both reported 46 and then 44 and suddenly he reported one mile ahead. We were in and out of the clouds and I started looking carefully for the plane. I figured it would be a Cessna 210 because of the similar speeds. I figured he was really puttin the gas to it to get ahead of me. I unknowingly dropped to 6800 feet in my nervous scanning out the front windsheild. Suddenly I spotted him, a C210 ahead and slightly below me. I called traffic in sight and told the controler we were at the same altitude. What followed I didn´t need perfect Spanish to understand. The 210 pilot got quite a scolding for decending without permission and busting seperation. He even had the nerve to argue back. Not something you would see in the states very often. After that excitement and a lot of GUMPS I landed at El Trompillo and taxied up to the ambulance. You can pray for the man, he had six shots to the gut and didn´t have a very good chance of recovery.
The next morning I got up at four and flew a medical team to Rurrenabaque and then did the two trips with the Brasilians from Trinidad to GY. The next day I did another trip to Trinidad, two trips between Trinidad and Rurrenabaque and back to GY, all full. That made for about 20 hours in the Mooney in four days. One one of my landings at GY there were two kids flying a kite on the runway. I waited till short final and then executed a go-around. The very next takeoff a man pulled out onto the runway ahead of me and crossed it without ever seeing me. He proceeded to ride his motorcycle down the right side as I went past, just barely airborne. There is always something to keep pilots awake down here. Pray that I never forget my GUMPS.
Today is Wednesday and I am supposed to go get the 182 dirty for a couple days with a team of eye doctors. Then I´ll take them back to Santa Cruz on Thursday night.
Thanks for your prayers and support.

1 comment:

ewrew said...

Dear DJ,
I just came upon your blog thanks to your email, I look forward to reading what's been going, may God bless you,

-Joshua Wold