Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crash at Canaima

Couldn't help but note this very sad story in the papers this weekend, of a six year old British boy who was killed in a light aircraft crash in Venezuela near the Canaima airstrip. This is where flights to see Angel Falls leave from, and he and his family were in a Cessena 208 Caravan which apparently lost power just after take off.

Its a pretty unforgiving place to have engine failure, with wilderness pretty much all around the short airstrip, as you can see from Google maps if you click here.

My short flight by Angel Falls and into Canaima and then out again was luckily uneventful, though it did feel a bit more "interesting" than flying into Heathrow. The descent into London's main airport usually starts about 30 km from the runway and you join a regular line of aircraft spaced 2 minutes apart.

The descent into Canaima was a lot more exciting: we were quite low already as the flyby was about half way up the fall's near 1 km face, and the pilot didn't climb any further up, just banked a lot to get us out of the canyons.

We were flying a BAe Jetstream, so our guide joked if we went down it would all be my fault! Luckily of course we didn't, but I couldn't help but notice there were a couple of pranged aircraft around the airstrip.

Above you can see a photo of an old DC3 rusting away (spot the propeller on the ground by the right engine) which was on the right coming into land.

On the left was this - not sure what it was, but it looks like another aircraft that didn't make it.

There is some irony here, as Angel Falls discoverer, Jimmie Angel himself, crashed when he tried to land his aircraft at the top of the tepui. It took him, his wife, and others including his gardener 11 days to trek to the nearest settlement.

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