Friday, July 18, 2008


It was supposed to be fairly simple, take the 2 hour Annual Check Ride (ACR) with our program manager. Normally, one hour of flight and one hour of ground review are included. However, some times it can take all day.
Ground review of Peruvian air regulation led to the discovery of 3 types of airspace A, D, and G. With A starting at FL 240 and G from the surface to FL240. D is only used around a couple airports that have control towers.

Anyways, the ground review took 2 hours and then as we were getting ready to fly, a call came in for an emergency flight to a village about 1 hour away. So we changed plans and headed out to pick up the sick person in the village. Landing the float plane, I shut down and got out on the float to dock the plane with a dugout canoe. Standing in the canoe, the wind started to blow the airplane and so I pulled on the tow rope and only succeeded in losing my balance and falling out of the canoe. Waist deap in murky water, I could hear the muffled laughter of my fellow "comrade" and check pilot. I'm not sure what he found so amusing.

We get the patient loaded up in the stretcher in back along with the nurse. I begin to load some baggage into the pontoon when I manage to wrack my head against the wing strut. Wow, that hurt but I think I am ok. As I continue loading I notice red splotches on the white floats and a quick check reveals I am leaking 5606 hydraulic fluid from my head. Thankfully the other pilot is there to wash the wound with my bottled drinking water and put antibiotic creme on a gauze pad. Man, why is he laughing again? Now, what to hold this bandage in place? Oh, of course, my helmet. So off we go with me still soaking wet and my head throbbing away... perfect time to practice an instrument approach on the way pack into Pucallpa.
One VOR/DME approach and 60 minutes later we are on the water again and the patient is on his way to the hospital. By 3pm I am back in the office regaling our secretary with the whole story. I guess sometimes when it rains is pours. At least I passed the ACR.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Float plane landing

Here is a video clip of one of my first float plane checkout flights with our Chief Pilot, Jon. These were taken about two months ago but I have just now had the chance to post them. Only took about 15 minutes to upload each video... which is a miracle in it's own right. Note how EVERYTHING is green down there. Also, if you look close, you can see some of the logs and branches that are sticking out of the river, you want to avoid hitting these with the floats at all costs. Also notice that since none of these rivers are straight, the traffic pattern that we fly is not very "standard".

One of the great challenges of flying the float plane is that the conditions of the river change every time you go somewhere. Even if it is the same place, there may be a new log, a new sandbar, or some other thing that makes you adjust your approach or touchdown point. I won't even talk about docking the float plane as that deserves it's own post. Suffice it to say, it is very tricky to dock the plane when you are fighting the river current, wind, and can only go forward and not backwards with the airplane. It is quite a challenge but I love it!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cleaning out the fridge

When I first got to Pucallpa, I lived in this small two room house with another SAM missionary. During the day the house was hotter than a pistol as there were no shade trees and at night the steady hum of machinery from a saw mill and the wiff of acrid black smoke gently put me to sleep. I lived here for two months until my roommate moved back to the USA.

I have a number of stories from that house, the roach that I killed the first night by stepping on it in the dark, the frog staring back at me from the shower head 3 inches away from my nose, and of course our refrigerator. REFRIGERATOR? Yes, the fridge. Our wonderful ice making machine. The problem was that it made ice where it was not supposed to. The top freezer portion, if left unchecked, would continue to build up more and more ice, encapsulating anything that was left in the freezer for more than a week.

One saturday I decided to clean out the ice build up. Dethawing would take to long and leave a wet mess all over the kitchen, so I used the one solution that I knew of. Mr. Estwing. A 20 ounce Estwing hammer would make quick work of all that ice! Just five short minutes later, the kitchen floor was full of ice but the freezer was empty! Mission accomplished.