Three weeks ago, I returned from leading a 4-man Air Force training team to Colombia to teach high angle rescue techniques to Colombian Air Force helicopter crews and para-rescue personnel. This is Part 9 of the chronicles of my adventurous trip to Colombia…
Day 10 … Water Ops
Today is “Worker’s Day” down here in Colombia, so everybody in town had the day off. Since our training time is limited, we made a deal with the Colombians that we would only work half of the day and take the rest of the day off. Since we were doing water ops today, it wasn’t very difficult to convince them.
We drove through Puerto Salgar, just outside of Palanquero AB, and headed out to the property of an old Colombian druglord. When he was jailed a few years back, the property was sold to a private investor who now leases it to the Colombian government. It was a phenomenal training location! The water was warm, the air was a bit cooler than usual, and the scenery was spectacular. I definitely got a little wet, but I worked hard to keep my camera as clean and dry as possible.
On a much sadder note, yesterday we found out about a Bell 212 crash in northern Colombia. 7 military members and 6 police were killed in the crash. God, please be with their families and friends. It was really tough on our Colombian aircrew guys because many of them knew the crew personally. I asked if maybe we should take a day off, but they told me that if they took a day off every time one of their comrades died, they would never work. The reality of constantly living in a war zone was sobering. Although the cause of the crash is currently a mystery, the aircraft that crashed is the same one they were planning to send to Palanquero to help us with our training today. It’s the one I may have been flying today if circumstances would have been different. It’s a lot to wrap my my mind around.
We finish up our training in the next couple days with a night flight and a Culminating Event on Friday. I’m enjoying the trip, but I’m starting to be ready to head home.
1. A Night in Orlando – Colombia Chronicles
2. Arriving in Bogota - Colombia Chronicles
3. SECDEF, the FARC, and Palanquero - Colombia Chronicles
4. Helicopter Academics - Colombia Chronicles
5. Urban Rescue Ops – Colombia Chronicles
6. Free Fall Skydiving – Colombia Chronicles
7. Snatch-and-grab – Colombia Chronicles
8. Helicopter insertion/extraction – Colombia Chronicles