Contrary to popular belief every hour of missionary flight is preceded by several hours of paperwork required by Federal Aviation Regulation and host country requirements. After the actual flight, there may be a need for some maintenance, that will always be followed by more paper.
Using aircraft to serve the people of Guatemala sometimes requires attention be focused on support or facilities concerns. So, what goes on around the edges of mission aviation? Well lets take a look at the month of March…………….
Hangar doors such as these at our mission base in Quetzaltenango (Xela), are designed to move with the greatest of ease, sliding along well maintained tracks top and bottom. Each section is 30ft., high and weighs in the neighborhood of 300lbs each.
On this day a swirling vortex of hot air meanders too close to the hangar, with such force that riveted steel section are torn away from the frame and three sections are lifted clean out of their tracks. Note to self: there will likely be some paper generated for this also.
A pilot flew all the way to Guatemala from his home country of Canada, to participate at a gathering of pilots and their aircraft in Xela (MGQZ). After customs & immigration at Guatemala City, the 30 minute flight to Xela was next. Unfamiliar with the mountain environment and feeling somewhat pressured by the growing cloud cover; simply stated the pilot wanted down. A rushed landing checklist (which includes extending the landing gear and a check to ensure it is down and locked), coupled with a rush to short-final, concludes with the landing gear collapsing at touch-down.
Let this be a lesson……….. There is a certain level of risk built-in to any aviation operation. The best you can do is to manage the risk at every phase of flight, so as to minimize the possibility of a mishap. As is with car, or motorcycle enthusiasts, a group will travel somewhere, congregate for fellowship, and show-off there pet project. Aircraft owners do the same thing…..its called a fly-in, (aka, the hundred dollar hamburger (HDH). The HDH is a term so secret, it can only be uttered out loud, when accompanied by the secret pilot hand shake, but that’s another story………………