Friday 13th October

Friday 13th

“Pilot Shots”

With the programme of events showing the individual competition element of the Championships as finished (albeit that the final had been postponed due to weather), Friday was scheduled as a day off before the team matches took place over the weekend. The team therefore took the opportunity to see more of Guyana than the route to the range and what better option on Friday the 13th than to fly on an ageing light aircraft into the jungle! With aircraft capacity limited the team split into two groups, one enjoying an early flight and the other a lie-in. The first group set off in good time, once again travelling courtesy of Trevor & his bus (name still unconfirmed), whose expertise got them to the airfield in his usual competent, confident manner. So excellent was this service that at no point did the Adjutant have to express panic and question this knowledge in the belief that we’d gone to the wrong airfield, only to be proved wrong…

On arrival, it was established that not only was seating limited, but so was weight capacity. Each team member therefore had the pleasure of being individually weighed, with none exceeding the 5000lbs threshold of the weigh-plate, despite a couple of weeks of enthusiastically sampling the local cuisine. Shortly afterwards, it transpired that aircrew were also at a premium and with no co-pilot, various members of the team ended up taking a front seat position over the course of the day’s flights, even getting to take the control for a while. All managed to maintain a straight and level performance with minimal upset caused by crosswinds, all of which boded well for performances in the team match the following day!

The flight into the jungle had a more specific purpose; to visit the Kaieteur Falls, probably the most incredible natural feature of Guyana. The falls (to copy & paste from Wikipedia in an act of shameless laziness) are “the world’s largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. Located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park, it sits in a section of the Amazon rainforest included in the Potaro-Siparuni region of Guyana. It is 226 metres (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break”. What that basically means is this: its impressive! Even at what by now was the end, rather than the peak, of the rainy season, the volume & noise of the water & spray was truly impressive and was well worth the flight out to the hilltop airstrip required to access it.

A short onward hop took the group to the considerable smaller, but also considerably safer, Orinduik Falls, on the Ireng River that forms part of the border between Guyana and Brazil. With the calls being formed of a series of steps with plunge pools between them, this provided everyone with the refreshing opportunity for a refreshing dip. It should be noted at this point that absolutely no members of the team swam across the 30m wide river and therefore most definitely did not illegally, if briefly, enter Brazil, inadvertently upgrading to a three-country tour…

With an early equatorial sunset, the approaching dusk threatened and with the pilot keen to make it back in daylight, the group made it back into the air, back to Georgetown and off to dinner, ready for the announcement of the following day’s team for the long range match.