When I saw our pilot pulling seats out of
the plane, as well as emptying some of the fuel, I realized weight must
be a major consideration. Okay, so how many batteries and tapes do we
really need to bring? Renaldo, our Brazilian bush pilot, had been flying
in this region for years so I was fairly confident.
The view of the Amazon basin from the
air was incredible: trees and rivers for as far as I could see. Our task
at hand was to visit a tribe where people from Youth With A Mission were
working and to produce a story about it. As I sat up front I noticed that
his nav-com system wasn't working - actually many things weren't working
- BUT he did have a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite system). I was impressed.
I'm no expert but it seems to me that a GPS doesn't help you get to a
position if you don't have the coordinates of the location. And guess
who didn't have coordinates?
After awhile we saw a little clearing
in the jungle and began our descent. As we landed I noticed lots of people
running to meet the plane along with a Caucasian lady perhaps in her sixties.
I didn't see anyone who I thought would be on a Youth With A Mission team,
but maybe they were out on a safari or something.
"Huh, I don't think this is the right
tribe." "Maybe we should have taken that right turn in Albuquerque." These
were some of the things I remember hearing. It was fun watching our pilot
get directions (follow the river to the next bend and hang a left...).
We took off again and found the clearing of the right tribe. After we
landed Renaldo informed me that he had never landed on a strip this short
before and thought it best if we wait until late in the day to take off.
When it cools off the air becomes more dense and gives the plane greater
lift. Sounded like a good plan to me.
So we shot our project, hung around and
ate smoked deer meat. When it came time to take off we taxied to the end
of the runway, revved up the engine and released the brakes. As we bounced
down the field I was a little concerned that the flaps weren't down. I
may not be an aviation genius, but I think it helps to have the flaps
extended. As we approached the end of the runway he quickly dropped the
flaps and we popped right up. Sure was nice seeing the treetops go under
us as we continued our sharp ascent. I could finally come home after a
long day of work and truly say, "Boy, it sure is a jungle out there."