Sunday, 30 October 2011

Day 7: Up & @ 'em!!

This day was probably the most memorable by far. Awake at 6am, we breakfasted and teksi'd out to the airport. This was funny to me because the guy who called for our teksi was named "Hail". Classic. Even funnier was that the two of our travel buds coming with us on this occasion got our bling taxi from day 3 and were as stunned as we were by the fixation with the sparkles.

At the airstrip we were weighed and sat before a safety DVD. After this we were guided out to the tarmac and to the chopper that would be ours for the next hour. Only one in our party had been in a chopper before whereas the rest of us had no idea what to expect. Seated and buckled in, we adjusted our headsets and tuned them in until we could hear each other, and then we waited.

Overhead the rotor was as loud as a HD DVD in BluRay with Dolby surround sound. This was the real deal, and we were sittin' in it. The doors on either side were shut and we could hear our Management pilot making final checks and talking to the tower. There was no warning as to when we'd finally lift off and so we sat calmly as if in our car for extended minutes until suddenly it felt like we were picked up by a giant hand! The chopper turned and very suddenly took off across the tarmac where only moments earlier large passenger planes had been taking off behind us.

Like a scene from a Vietnam war movie, we were crusing just above the ground, tail up and nose down at full pelt, lifting only slightly as we came to drift above rooftops and the freeway. The pilot cracked a small wry smile as we couldn't help but holler our bliss. It was fantastic! The remarks that flowed through the headsets were to the effect of:
"Omigosh! I just found my new and expensive addiction!!!"
"Aaaaugh fantastic!!!"
"This is awesome!!!"
"Aaaaaugh!! I want one!!!"

Elaborate sentences to fully express our concise feelings at the time. No wonder the pilot was smiling.

Take off was the best, like fully. THE BEST. The velocity and power were terrific and exactly how it looks in the movies is how it is, I promise :) Unlike a plane where the speed picks up gradually for takeoff, in a chopper the pace is instant. It's a real rush. We were grinning outside our faces, and even our kids were pretty stoked.

Moving across to the mountain that gives our destination its name, we saw below us rivers and un-surfaced winding roads, as well as tracks across the tops of ridges in the undulating terrain that plunged 1,000ft below. We were 5,000ft above sea level and eventually this far above the surface of the earth. That was the on the way. For the return trip, the pilot proved he had something else in store. The jungle was green as green could be, and tumbling down the mountain were large waterfalls that looked like mere rivulets from our lofty place above the clouds. We oohed and aahed without ceasing. The pilot had us at about 80 knots.

(Not our photo)
Nearer the mount the air grew noticably cooler and we shut the windows. The clouds were made perfectly white by the sun high above. Everywhere there was beauty and we marvelled at the creativity of God's handiwork.

As we listened to our pilot's check-ins with the tower and realised we were making our way back, it slipped out he'd flown for the military for 30 years. Husband asked, "How close can you go down to the trees?"
Pilot replied in his deep Kamahl voice, "How close do you want to be?"
"I can do that."

Trust me when I say he did. We could count the leaves! Husband then asked if he could do any sweeping passes or bank left and right. Believe me when I say he so totally did. At 120 knots. Watching the jungle meet you fair and square out the window as you bank a mean, deep left is sensational, especially when you're face to face with it at a parallel angle. Using the "SicSac" never entered anyone's mind. The ducking and weaving was way too cool.

Houses below put our modern western homes to shame. The colours of the walls and the rooftops flickered between pink, beige, brown, blue, orange, white, red, jade... It was like the Med in the jungle and the only thing missing was stucco :)

Landing came quickly and again, with precision skill. With a spin and a few clever swoops he reverse parked the chopper in a manoeuvre purely for our enjoyment because he so did not have to do it. By then he was just showing off and we wanted to take him home for keeps as he no doubt knew from our effusive praise. Only after we landed did we learn he'd also flown for Bear Grylls, holding steady as he rappelled up and down ropes to and from the Borneo jungle.

How long will it be before we can indulge again in our new addiction? Only time will tell, but it was a really special treat to say the very least.

Decide: Are the things that rock your world within reach, or do you have to make time and effort to enjoy them more often than you currently experience? How hard is it for you to pursue a dream?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29v11

Car je connais les projets que j'ai formés sur vous, dit l'Éternel, projets de paix et non de malheur, afin de vous donner un avenir et de l'espérance.

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