Are we flying yet!?!

Paul Jones of MAG, and Chuck Martinez of MWI
Paul Jones of Missionary Air Group (MAG), and Chuck Martinez of Mercy Wings International (MWI)

Flight operations in Guatemala are not for everyone. In the world of aviation, there’s flying, and then there’s flying.

By comparison, flying in North America provides some pleasingly wide boundaries when it comes to flight planning, decision-making, and system management. Cast your gaze in just about any direction, and it is likely you’ll find a runway with fuel, maintenance facilities, control tower, and restaurant.

Not so when it comes to Guatemala. The aviation infrastructure, though functional, gets spread pretty thin across the country. The vast majority of airstrips are dirt or grass, uneven and short, with obstacles at both ends. Arrive at one of these strips with any combination of too much weight, speed, altitude, and your aircraft becomes a problem to stop. Worse yet, attempting takeoff while too hot, high, or humid can also ruin your day and a perfectly good aircraft.

All that said to highlight the “Flight Review”, a rite of passage that occurs every two years for all pilots. The idea is to keep pilots thinking about all aspects of aviation, including demonstration of normal and emergency flying skills. Paul Jones, a certified flight instructor (CFII), from Missionary Air Group, operating out of Maya Mundo airport, joined me in Xela to administer my flight review. The hour and a half flight is not meant to be a meat grinder, though I did have beads of sweat on my forehead before we were done. Thanks again Bro. Paul, until next time, “keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down”.

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