Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Asphalt Amazon

Night catching us over the Amazon.

My next assignment was to play international taxi. RedADvenir needed equipment to put a Portuguese translation of their signal on the air. The equipment could be shipped and received six months to a year later or we could simply go pick it up in Tennessee. David's Twin Comanche is the plane most often used for these kind of international delivery trips but it was down for some heavy maintenance. Jeff was in the process of buying a Piper Aerostar twin but that wasn't ready either. The only other GMI plane with the range for big international legs was the N8201H, the Mooney 201 that I usually fly around Bolivia. I discussed the risks with David and explained that I wasn't a fan of single engine international travel after our Malibu experiences (see earlier post). He understood but he was in a pinch and paying a lot of money for the satellite access and couldn't make use of it without this equipment. I arrived in Santa Cruz on April 21 and we were in the Mooney heading north on April 22. I took David's wife along as she needed a ride to Guyana. We had applied on Tuesday for permission to leave the country with the airplane. On Thursday morning our permission still was pending. The DGAC (the equivalent of the FAA) wanted to know all the places I would be going while I was gone. They also didn't believe that I had the range to take off from Bolivia and land in Guyana without stopping. I had to call them on the phone and verify this fact. As it was we recieved permission to leave the country about one hour after it was too late to make the flight and land in Guyana before sundown. Guyana doesn't allow any single engine night flight in their airspace. We could have waited to till the next morning to leave but Becky Gates needed to be in Guyana by Friday morning for a church dedication. We decided to go halfway and land in Manaus, Brazil for a few hours to wait for day break. I was frustrated because I really didn't want to fly over the jungle at night. We left Bolivia at an hour that I thought would get us to Manaus just after sundown and just before dark. I didn't check the distance and just went on the time-enroute guess that my hangar manager gave me. It turned out to be about one more hour so we arrived about 7:30pm, well after dark. Becky helped me do the paper work and the flight plan and we were back to the airplane about 9pm. I laid my blanket under the wing in the middle of the ramp and she curled up inside the airplane for a few hours rest. We woke up early in the morning, long before sunrise and continued on to Guyana. We crossed the border just 30 min after sunrise and the trip was back on schedule. It is kinda sad to have been in the Brazil and seen nothing but the asphalt and lights of an international airport at night....

No comments: