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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

Our flight to Nazca was short and sweet.

Our flight to Nazca, was short and sweet until near to the airfield. Olivier was calling over the radio that we were 5 km away (but couldn't see the runway) and my GPS was indicating 18km away. Chat, chat!

Whenever one of us says "chat, chat" over the radio, the other gives a quick "OK" and we both change frequency to 123.45 MHz. On the chat frequency we can talk freely, tell jokes, etc.

We chatted about the dilemma. I suggested that Olivier follow me to where my GPS indicated the runway to be… Mine was also wrong – the airfield would never be on the top of a very high and very rocky mountain! Oh well, as a last resort, look at the map. There it was!

We landed, removed some equipment, I fitted my camera to a wingtip, and were on our way to the Nazca lines within 30 minutes. We had to stay at exactly 2,000 ft, because the ATC stack aircraft up 200 ft apart over the lines. At 2,000 ft we were about 150 to 250 ft above the desert floor. It was very turbulent and so, after a 30-minute flight we were back on the ground. We had read up about the Nazca lines and were very excited to see them. They were everything I had expected, except, they were a lot bigger in size and spread over a much larger area than I had expected.

Do I hear you ask – what are the Nazca lines?  Well, read about them yourself!

OK, well, the Nazca people lived in this area and reached their peak in about 800 AD. They drew pictures and lines on the desert floor. There is very, very little rain and the wind does not blow the top surface and stones away, so the marks have stayed.

Dr Paul Kosok discovered them in 1939 while flying over the area.

The exact reason for these lines is still being debated, but the most feasible explanation comes from a German woman who studied the lines and pictures and their significance (mostly from the top of a stepladder) over a 40-year period.  Maria Reiche concluded that the lines represented a huge astronomical calendar and the pictures were a way that they recorded celestial events. They had a practical day-to-day function, such as times for fishing, harvest, festivals etc. Fascinating!

Later we had lunch and had a quick look for e-mail. We changed money (damn, this stuff is going fast) and caught a taxi back to the airfield. After a wash, refuelling, and getting ready for the night our host (the pilot and owner of the Cessna 206 at whose station we were parked) arrived with his wife.

We decided to go to town with them for a beer. It turned into a highly entertaining time. An `ancient Inca herb´ was immediately lit and passed round. Boy, it was strong. I noticed the driving (a huge Dodge car with a slipping clutch was our method of transport) getting progressively worse, the closer we got to town. After a hysterical 20-minute attempt at parking and forgetting why we were parking, and reversing around a lot, the engine was stopped and that way I was sure the parking exercise was at an end. We sat in a restaurant and had a few beers, and chatted about the biggest lot of rubbish. Nonetheless it was funny as hell, although no one really knew what we were talking about.

We slept right next to our trikes, which happened to be right next to the main road out of Nazca, which happened to be the special night of the year when the loudest and largest number of trucks enter and leave Nazca. Rrreeaaaoooowwwwwwww, Rrreeeeaaaaaaooooowwwwwwww! Yes, I slept, but not well.


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