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#2805: flying Hayti (fwd)
Early in March I flew Tropic Air from PauP
to Okap. I couldn't face the road between
Sen Mak and Gonaive again and it had been
three years since I last flew the friendly
skies of Hayti.
That first trip was from Okap to PauP in
1997. This year the impression that the
landscape left on me was markedly different.
Then, it seemed scarcely more human friendly
than the mojave desert.
This year the mountain range just north
of potoprens remains a hellish sight,
with crazy people burning whatever
manages to struggle out of the ground.
Once past that and into the Artibonite,
then the Central Plateau, the view is
friendly and welcoming.
The middle Artibonite seems haphazardly
farmed, but fertile. Over the next range
the central plateau looks to be carefully
farmed in medium sized plots. There is
plenty of greenery there now. I was told
just last nite that the past three years
have had unusually high levels of rain fall
and the desert conditions on the plateau
may be a more normal condition of the past
It does seem that the closer one comes to
PauP the crazier the agricultural practices
***aside on trash***
The flood plains north of the city are
rapidly being turned into a toxic waste
dump, with no remediation whatsoever.
The garbage trucks are working, cleaning
up the city, but they have nowhere to
remove the waste to. So, they dump and burn
in vast swathes out towards route 1.
This type of open burning of mixed domestic
waste produces more toxins by far than
current hazardous waste facilities.
There was a US EPA study recently which
reported that backyard incinerators in the
southern US pollute at some incredible rate
compared to municipal burning facilites.
Open burning, as practiced in most poor
countries, is far worse again. The more
the smoke is concentrated, the more the
assorted poisons are consumed by the
The streets of centreville PauP are
quite clean these days, certainly
compared to the shoulder high piles
which completely consumed streets in
1997. The street merchants clean out the
gutters and sweep up trash into little
piles for the garbage men to shovel up
into the trucks.
*** /aside ***
The plane which Tropic Air uses is
a Soviet block high wing twin turboprop.
It is rather like a mini C130 and is very
sturdy and comfortable. The pilot told me
that all you have to do is check the tires
and oil and then fly it anywhere, that is
is like a jeep.
Because it is a product of the soviet economy
the US will never give airworthiness certificates
to these cheap, durable planes. The US will also
not allow 40 year old Lockheed C130's to be sold
for overseas civilian use, nor ever allow
antonovs or tupolevs to land in the US.
So, far more expensive and less reliable
mid sized US planes must be used for the
jump to Florida.
We have been hearing from pilots lately
on the skies of Haiti. I am not one, altho
I grew up in a US Air force family.
I do like the idea of hang gliding from
Citadelle or Boutilliers, or ultra lite
flying the coast. Has anyone ever done
these things, or heard of it being done?
Oh, speaking of Citadelle, I met a
US Corps de la Paix worker who spent
new years eve in the Citadelle. They
got approval from the national park
director to have a group spend that
night within the fortress. Kul.
Oh, the race track in Potoprens is just
outside the airfield. Altho motorcycles
do race there, it looks scarcely friendly
for that, with sharp corners, no banking,
and a uniform track width. It definitely
looks like a good go kart track, but
nothing else. They have a bunch more land
right around it tho.