Mexican life

Up in the sky

SUNDAY WAS the final installment of a three-day, hot-air balloon festival in our mountaintop town.

I shot this brief video from our upstairs terraza.

The airport, and that’s using the term loosely, rests on the edge of my neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It’s a dirt strip that goes virtually unused all year.

There is a hangar there, and a DC-9 without wings on display. A funny story that. The DC-9 was brought here on a massive flatbed tractor-trailer some years back.

It had almost completed the trip when it had to make a right turn from one highway to a lesser road just three blocks from the Hacienda. There is an incline to the roadbed and, halfway around the curve, the jet fell off the trailer.

It rolled briefly toward a carnitas stand about 20 feet away. I imagine those seconds were endless to the crew cutting carnitas. It’s not often you see a DC-9 rolling your way.

The jet was hoisted back upon the trailer and continued the short distance to our airport where it now lives.

The hangar there, the DC-9 and, previously, an ultralight service is owned by some well-off individual. The ultralight service has gone out of business due to lack of, well, business.

Once I drove over there to inquire about learning to fly ultralights, something I never got around to, and the fellow let me go inside the DC-9, which was lots of fun.

I have a private-pilot’s license though I haven’t used it since the 1970s. It never expires. I also took a number of sailplane lessons in Central Texas, but I never got that license either.

There’s something a bit unnerving about being up in a plane with no means of propulsion whatsoever.

I skydived once in Louisiana, and I went up in a hot-air balloon once in Texas. Giving my mother near heart attacks apparently was an unconscious, lifetime goal.

And then there were the motorcycles.

She’s dead now, so I’ve quit doing all that stuff.

My father could not have cared less.

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(Promo! For those of you who have not recently visited — or never have — my SlickPic photos, there is a new look and new photos. The SlickPic Gallery is where you’ll find gobs of photos of the Hacienda through the years, our Cuba visit in 2012, photos of the Downtown Casita (available on AirBnB), my art furniture, Mexico in general and, last but not least, a blow by blow — photo-wise — of the construction of our free-standing pastry kitchen.)

10 thoughts on “Up in the sky

  1. Taking a hot-air balloon ride is on the bucket list of some. Not mine. There is the attraction of being aloft for quiet aerial views of scenery but beyond that, not much. A local purveyor of those rides took a group out a couple of years ago from New Braunfels on a dicey day because of winds. That balloon hit some high wires because there really is no control over where the thing goes. Balloon grounded, all killed and there was a basketful. Pretty to look at from the ground, though.

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    1. Carole: I’d bet that balloon rides are safer than a drive across town in most places. Like all such things, it’s the rare one that goes bad that makes the news. As for its being quiet, it’s only quiet part of the time. When the burner is lit over your head — how it stays aloft — it’s very noisy. It’s even worse for ultralights, which people assume is a nice peaceful way to fly. Actually, it’s like having a wide-open Harley-Davidson engine roaring inches behind your head. Peaceful, it ain’t. You have to wear earplugs inside the helmet.

      Parachuting, however, is very quiet. I should have done it more than once.

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  2. Beautiful backdrop with those mountaintops.
    Have to laugh thinking about that plane rolling towards the carnitas stand and the reactions; and once the danger is over, the jokes that Mexicans are so good at.

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    1. Angeline: I went down there before they got it back on the trailer, before even a way to get it back on the trailer had arrived. I don’t know how they did it. It was quite a sight, seeing that (wingless and tail-less) plane lying on its side on the road. And it was just feet from the carnitas stand.

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    2. I fixed it. I don’t use auto-correct for this very reason. It’s a pain in the kazoo. Now I’ll delete your correction and this response of mine too.

      I wish it were possible to correct one’s own comments on WordPress. It’s so much like Disqus, but it lacks that element, alas.

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  3. I once had a boss who was fond of flying his little ultralight plane that was powered by something similar to a lawnmower engine. After his second crash, his life insurance company suggested he get a new hobby.

    He is firmly grounded.

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    1. Ray: Ultralights are loads of fun, and the technology, I have read, has improved immensely over the years. While they were once a little dicey, they aren’t so much anymore. I wish I had one.

      The one flight I took was on a two-seat trainer out of a rural airport south of Houston. We never did get very high, and the fun part was buzzing cows through a pasture.

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  4. Years ago I remember seeing an airplane land at the Tzurumutaro International Airport, but that was the only time. Recently I hear more private aircraft flying over the ranch along with more helicopters. I looked the airport up on Goggle Maps, and they actually list it as Aeródromo Purépecha. Looking at the Google Sat photo is shows the DC-9 with its wings on.

    I’ll have to check that out one of these days.

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    1. Tancho: International airport. That’s a good one. As for the DC-9 having wings, I either am remembering wrong, or they were attached after my last visit. I tried to drive to that “international” dirt strip a couple of months ago and found that there was a locked gate. Before, you could just saunter in any old time.

      I’ve never seen a plane land there, and I have a very good vantage point. There are a couple of junked planes there that, obviously, made it in and never made it out.

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    2. PS: A little further investigation reveals that it’s a privately owned airport, and the owner is a fellow named Oscar Eslava. That’s probably the guy who let me take a tour inside the DC-9 that day.

      Wikipedia says a plan is afoot to modernize the airport. It also says that the airport was used long ago by Lázaro Cárdenas when he visited here. I imagine that’s why it was built in the first place.

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