Saturday, January 19, 2008

A pictoral flight in the jungle

Over New Years, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Pucallpa, Peru where I will be working once I am finished with language school. I will post some other pictures from Pucallpa as well but this post is about a flight that I was able take into the jungle on our Cessna 206 float plane. Some missionaries working in a village called Puerto Belem (Port Bethlehem ) needed to be resupplied with food, gasoline, and propane for their cooking stove.

The flight was 1 hour long but to travel the distance in boat takes about 2 weeks of steady travel! It is little wonder when you look at the rivers and how "non-straight" they are. A wonderful blessing for pilots and passengers is that up at our regular cruising altitude of 6,000 feet, it is usually 65 degrees. The jungle is just flat out hot and humid, you start sweating just standing in the sun, so flying is pretty close to spoiling people... but I think missionaries that work in these villages deserve to be "spoiled."

The landing or "splashdown" approach at Puerto Belem was probably the best part of the flight. Our final approach path was a twisting, turning, journey that had us dropping lower and lower into the jungle canopy.

Since the river is about 120 feet wide and our wingspan is almost 40 feet, there is not a whole lot of room for error. Note the trees hanging into the river and the lack of "river straightness" to land the float plane.

After recieving a tour of the village and talking with the missionaries who are working there, we set off on our flight back to Pucallpa.

The takeoff was "interesting" (read exciting and really cool) as we had to get onto the "step" of the floats, (just like when a boat planes on the water) go around a corner in the river, lift one float out of the water, accelerate, lift the other float off, stay ground affect around another bend in the river, and then climb out on our way back home!

On the flight back we worked our way around some 5,000 foot mountains and picked our way through the afternoon cumulus cloud buildups. Thanks so much to Jon, our Chief Pilot, for giving me some time behind the wheel and showing me a taste of the excitement that I have waiting for me in the years ahead.

See you soon OB-1467!


Jason A said...

Note Dave gets some left seat time and pulls out the "I'm a PIC" t-shirt.

A plane junkie at heart! lol!

Mandi said...

Will you be flying the seaplane? You have your float rating?