Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s important to have friends, good friends. We are lucky, we have lots of good friends, and right when we needed help, one of those friends stepped in to save the day.
We have known Bill and Joan for years. A friendship that has continued despite us moving away for a few years and then returning to Colorado. We call each other up and get together for dinner at the drop of a hat. We eat Indian food and talk about airplanes, travel, adventure, you name it. We consider them some of the best friends that we have. Bill was about to become a true life saver and volunteer to help us out with this mess!
The parts we needed were shipped to the mechanic’s shop in Colorado where Bill was able to get them and bring them down to Lima on a standby ticket 2 days later.
One of the guys working at the hangar in Lima said that Peru can be really strict about imported airplane parts. They will impose duty and tariffs which can be expensive. This little ‘delay’ in Lima was expensive enough as it is, we don’t need to add more costs to the equation.
The plan was to have Bill bring the parts down in his hand luggage! If he was questioned by customs then he was to tell them that the parts were for a car. By this time I was getting used to haggling for taxis in Lima and I made another trip out to the airport to meet Bill. Back home, Sara had found us an apartment to rent short term while we worked on the plane. Customs let Bill walk right through without question. Whew!!
Another taxi ride later we were at the apartment working up a plan for the next day. Things were looking up. I had a friend with me now, one that was a mechanic, I had parts too. We were going to get Emcinco back up and running.
We put in a full day at the hangar the next day and got the old magnetos and wiring harness removed as well as the new ones installed. I should mention that just getting to this hangar was a major ordeal. We had to go through security like a regular passenger but because we didn’t have tickets, they had to print up a piece of paper as if we were going on a charter flight! Then we had to wait for a van to pick us up at a gate but only after some special guy opened the door for us and let us out. Then the van had to drive all around the airport ramp, way over to the other side in order to deposit us at the hangar. Needless to say one only wants to do this once a day and not more. We packed some sketchy sandwiches from a place in the terminal building so that we would have something to eat at the hangar mid-day.
With the new parts installed we were able to start the engine and run it for a bit. Actually test flying would be a major challenge. You can’t just go for a spin around the pattern at Lima international, we needed to run down to the small private airport south of Lima and use that as a test flight. Not ideal but it would work. That would also give us a chance to meet Fernando, the guy who helped us out, at Lib Mandy airport.
Even a simple thing like this is not easy to orchestrate in Peru, in order to go to Lib Mandy airport, we had to have our permit amended by civil aviation in Lima. Then they had to approve the extra leg and also the leg from Lib Mandy to Trujillo after that. We had to figure out fuel at Lima international too! It was time for the handling guys to earn some of this money that they were charging me. One of the guys in the office called to get the permit sorted out, the other guy called about fuel and found out that we could get some.
Great, we packed up and headed out to the hangar again, through the whole security nonsense again! Hopefully this was to be the last time.
The engine seemed to run well during the ground run, but what we really needed was a test flight. It was only a 2 hour wait to get fuel and then we could get the hell out of this damn airport. we were getting close, we could feel it.
It was a short flight down to Lib Mandy, one of the spark plugs wasn’t firing correctly and we looked at it while we chatted to Fernando. The plug just had a piece of carbon on the electrode that was probably dislodged from the compression test.
Fernando and the guys at Lib Mandy were great. They greeted us with open arms and showed us around the place. There was small flight school there with ultralights, a couple of planes used for charter and the odd vintage biplane sitting in a hangar. It was clear that they have infinite patience to fly here in Peru. They were some of the few general aviation enthusiasts in the country. They knew how messed up the system was in Peru, some of them had been to the states and seen how easy it is to fly there. But they had little choice if they wanted to keep flying.
Despite some hardships and bad luck during long term travel, we have met some really friendly and helpful people along the way. The aviation community is a small one and we all try to help each other out when it is needed. I hope that I get to return the favor one day.
Another flight plan filed and we were on our way up to Trujillo. We had done it. Emcinco was flying again! Best news of all was that Bill decided to fly part or all of the way back with me.
Emcinco had a crew of two again. Northwards once more!
Miles to date: 10,000 NM