Called back twice in one day!!

Trip Start Jul 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Bolivian airport authorities are incredibly nice and do everything they can do simplify the paperwork process for checking out of the country. Unfortunately, Argentina is a bit more inflexible.   We are on the runway asking for permission to take-off and we are instructed to return to the airport.  Argentina requires a 2-hour notification of a flight plan and there is still 45 minutes before crossing that threshold.

Leaving Tarija we fly over fields planted on top of eroding hills.  The terrain is rugged and arid.  Due to weather, we are retracing our route over a series of high ridges towards Yacuiba.  We had hoped to travel up the valley and cross at lower elevation.  We find a saddle over the first ridge with peaks rising to 10,500 above us to the right.  After the first ridge, there is thick cloud cover and we fly above it in clear skies watching for an opening.

The elevation gain will help us reach the 12,000 ft we've been instruct to fly when entering Argentina.  With the extra weight of full fuel tanks, this will take a bit of doing.  Fortunately we have time and patience.  At 11:37 we cross into Argentina in the far distance we can see the Andes.  As we travel southwest the Andes rise above the clouds, dominating the horizon. 

Fifty miles from Salta, the cloud cover begins to break up and we see ground below. Jujuy and its airport are visible below.  Fertile fields dominate the horizon.  As we slip under the cloud cover to head towards Salta, Greg and Patrick discuss options.  On the right are giant cumulus clouds that could be nasty. Plus they are screening a ridge that is between the airport and us.  Patrick spots a valley that is basically a straight shot to Salta.   We head in with mountains on either side. 

Immigration into Argentina goes relatively smoothly.  We refuel and prepare to continue on, but as we are taxiing to the runway we are called back. Immigration is missing a document.  Arghhhhh we return to where we had parked, shut down the plane and Patrick runs in to deal with the problem.  He returns in 15 minutes and we go through start-up procedures again.  

This time when Patrick asks for permission to taxi the radio goes dead.  He cannot get it to work.  No two-way radio, no flying.  This is a huge problem.  The repair has to be completed by a certified Avionics expert.  The probability that there is one in Salta is not high.  Patrick goes to the general aviation hangers presuming there would be someone there who could tell him what is possible.  Walking in he was pleasantly surprised to see a very impressive collection of personal jets and helicopters.  Maybe things aren’t as dire as he thought. 

He asks the first person he sees for help and the man suggests asking Roberto a mechanic working on a plane.  Patrick’s jaw fell to the floor when Roberto, was the very same Roberto from Buenos Aires who has done all of the service for the Little Lady since she arrived in Argentina.  Roberto is one of the foremost aviation mechanics in Argentina and another client had flown him to Salta to work on a problem.  How lucky is that!!!

It is not an easy fix. Roberto takes the Radio to Buenos Aires the next day, which is a holiday and promises to have it repaired or a replacement sent to Salta on Tuesday. 

Guess we’ll visit Salta after all.  We secure rooms near the historic center and take a bit of a tour around the area on the way to dinner on lively Balcarce Street.  Booths line the street closed to cars with restaurants lining both sides of the street.  Most have live music ranging from traditional to contemporary.  We pick a restaurant with a lively crowd enjoying traditional music accompanied by folk dancers.
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