So as many of you know, Richard is an avid pilot and recently he had the opportunity to use his piloting skills toward a humanitarian effort that will benefit Guyana, South America for years to come;
Here is Richard’s story of his amazing experience.
We started out our trip just before 4 pm from Spirit of St Louis airport (on Tuesday January 30th) and after an hour we were flying thru the night skies to end up after 3.7 hours in Eufaula, Alabama for the night. Wednesday morning January 31st we got to the airport for an early 7:30 am departure but it took us 1/2 hour to deice the wings! In Alabama! Who new!
Another 3.7 hours and after a diversion into Orlando Class B airspace to get around a restricted area we arrived at Fort Lauderdale and Banyon FBO. There we fueled up again and rented a life raft. After getting our clearance and taxi instructions we were cleared to takeoff over the water! Another 2.7 hours and we stopped in Exuma, Bahamas. Great breakfast at a new hotel that just opened that morning. Too bad we didn’t stay there.
Thursday February 1st we flew 2.3 hours to Turks and Caicos where we stayed at the nicest hotel of the whole trip. The FBO charged us $550 USD for everything including $168 in fuel, communications fees, navigation fees, landing fees, ramp fees, parking fees, customs fees, immigration fees, flight planning and filing fees, departure fees and of course airport taxes, country tax, and island tax. It was nice (but not that nice). I did get to the beach for a few minutes.
On Friday the 2nd we flew 4.3 hours to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. It was raining very hard as we came in and the Approach control was urging me to go as fast as I could. He called the airport Marginal IFR the second I landed! Tired of the fees of T&C we cleared our own way into the country and tied down at a public ramp next to some aircraft that had been destroyed in the Hurricane of last summer and fall. The whole island was really devistated from the hurricanes and relief workers were everywhere.
Saturday the 3rd we flew 3.7 hours to Grenada all over open water, no Islands. By that time we had come to trust the airplane. Granada was great!
Sunday the 4th was our last leg in N82HS flying 3.4 hours into Georgetown Guyana. We quickly cleared customs etc. but we did not get permission to fly the plane in country. AWA had applied in mid December but they are still waiting for some “minister” to sign the last paper.
So 23.6 hours of flight time, 2685 nautical miles and 7 legs later I thought that I was done my mission…..
We flew in the other Cessna 182 to the Wings for Humanity Mission base in Mabaruma 1.4 hours north again, almost on the Venezuela border. This is where the plane will be put to work, flying people out of the jungle that need emergency medical attention. I stayed 3 nights in the “house” there and spent the next day fixing the mission boat, then 2 days engineering the foundation for a hangar that was donated to them and meeting with a local contractor to negotiate pouring the foundation. I also wrote out instructions on how to erect the building. They had 2 “cartoon” drawings of the building so I marked them up with instructions as well. I really want to know how that ends up.
So last Wednesday was a day off and we flew to the south of the country to see the 1000 foot high falls at Kaieteur National Park. The weather was poor with clouds down low and I got a taste of what it is really like to fly a mission plane; When your GPS says you are over the airport you look for a hole in the clouds, spiral down, look around and hope that you can maneuver onto the runway, otherwise you just spiral back up.
We went back to Georgetown that afternoon and flew out the next morning to Miami, caught an Uber to return the life raft and flew out of Fort Lauderdale to Seattle and home to Kelowna Friday morning.
I am anxious to show you pictures, way too many to include here but one of the islands & water and another of my room in Mabaruma.Jud told me that my next trip will be to Uganda in a Cessna 182! Next summer….