This one's a little out of order. There's so much to write about and oddly so little time.
My helicopter got impounded. And as I write this we do not know when or if we will get it back. Fortunately, it’s a short story.
When Bart and I flew through Mexico we received a permit to fly in that country. It was good up through the end of 2006. When we landed in Roatan, Honduras we also received a piece of paper that entitled us to fly in-country for seven days, an unusually short amount of time. We did not want to have to renew our permit every seven days, so the Boss made inquiries with some local politicians. We assumed (and you know how that goes) that renewing the weekly permit would not be any big deal.
In the interim, we’ve been using the helicopter. We’ve made some personal flights, sure. But we’ve also made one “EMS” hospital transfer flight for a guy who’d broken his pelvis in a 4-wheeler accident and needed to go to the mainland for x-rays. I also made on real medevac flight with a pregnant girl who was experiencing serious complications and needed surgery that day. One of the reasons that the Boss brought the FH1100 down to the Bay Islands is because the people on Guanaja are very isolated from medical care. I can have someone in a mainland hospital in about an hour-and-a-half if necessary.
Anyway, on Wednesday, September 6th, Mrs. Boss wanted to go down to a town on the mainland called La Ceiba to do some shopping. Our arrival was something less than friendly. Apparently, the Honduran Air Force had been watching our little flights and was curious about what we were doing. When we showed up in La Ceiba unannounced, they requested a copy of our permit. It became quickly obvious that it was expired and began causing extreme distress.
The local airport manager was adamant: I’d have to go to the capital of Tegucigalpa (a town I’d only recently learned to say without stumbling) and see them about “this violation.” Needless to say, the next flight to Tegucigalpa was tomorrow. Oh boy. Mrs. Boss was not happy. On a hunch, I went out to the helicopter and locked up everything of value in the baggage compartment. And then we went shopping, as planned.
Behind the scenes, politicians and lawyers went to work. Ideally we wanted a longer-term permit. But what we really wanted was to just get the ship released so we could get it back to Guanaja and put it in the hangar and work out all the details later. The Boss was scheduled to leave on Friday morning. All of the diplomatic entreaties were for naught. We had to have the King Air come get us and bring us back to Guanaja. As of Thursday over a week later the ship is still in La Ceiba with no release date in sight.
I get the impression that despite all of our political pull, I may have to make an appearance in “Ta-goose” anyway. Something just tells me that some bureaucrat wants to yell at me in person and flex his muscles. And maybe extract a little “fine” from us. Meanwhile my ship sits out on an airport ramp 70 miles away. It’s not a good feeling.