Around 1:00 p.m. I got the call: Woman in Mangrove Bight, seriously ill, needs a helicopter flight to the mainland. Heart problem, I was told.
We've got this down to a science now. I quickly reconfigured the helicopter from passenger to stretcher (air ambulance), then hopped over to the airport to top-off the fuel tank. I did not ask a whole lot of questions, nor did I need to. They had some questions for me though.
"Can you pick her up on the dock in Mangrove Bight?" Yup, can do!
"Can you arrange for an ambulance to meet you at the airport in La Ceiba?" Yup, can do that too!
(I'm not sure why the above picture came out with no color. The next ones I took came out fine.) There we are, loading up an obese woman with "heart problems" and fluid in her stomach. I was lead to believe she was in worse shape than she was. In any event, it was probably better to fly her down in the helicopter than try to get her on one of the commuter flights.
I am constantly amazed at the strange places I am often asked to land - most of the time with little or no prior notice. Back in my former life, there's no way that I would land "off-airport" without going through a whole big procedure. Helicopters usually attract crowds, the police and the media. This is not always a good thing. Down here, the crowds still come but nobody seems to officially care. Land in that field down there? Sure! Swoop down and land on that little dock? Yepper! It's odd. And on the other hand, it's increcibly liberating. My previous life as a pilot was so structured and buttoned-down. It is refreshing to be able to go where I want and do what I want without worrying too much about the repercussions.
Look how different the weather is on the mainland! Looks like a completely different day. It is odd that Ceiba can be so rainy while the Bay Islands, only 40 or so miles north of the coastline get hardly any rain by comparison.