Friday, November 30, 2007

Day 55 - High Hopes

The spectacle at the top of the mountain where the tip has literally been shaved off, leaving a short-strip of flat land bound by death-defying drops, is called Kalymnos Airport.

The airport took longer to build than planned. The delay was caused by a realisation during construction that the runway was going to be too short. Negotiations between the contractors and the airlines ensued and, finally, a solution was found. Rather than squeeze a Boeing 747 onto the runway, as initially planned, why not try a 20-seater plane which could probably screech to a halt before the runway disappears over the edge of a 90 degree vertical cliff into the sea. And the construction was completed. Excellent solution; and it only took 15 years to reach.

We have made many attempts since arriving on the island to climb up high to a point where we will be eye-level with the plane and watch it as it swoops in to land. However, a combination of sleeping in, getting lost, and sporadic landing times have so far resulted in no successful attempts to do so. Today we give it another shot.

We are out of the house by midday – great, just over an hour until landing – and start climbing up to the church of St. Savvas, nearly at the top of the South West mountain. The sun is in full swing and we’re pretty convinced that we should have a clear view of the runway in the sky, a few mountain tops to the North.

Fifty minutes later and we are at out destination. Bugger. We have miscalculated and cannot see the runway. We wander to the back of the church and cast a calculating eye over the rocky mountainside leading up to the summit where the island’s T.V and telephone masts stand guard. Can we do it? Yes, we think we can. And so we start weaving our way up, racing against the clock as we jump from rock to rock.

Paul bounds up the cliff face without a care in the world but Nicole lags behind caught up in a whirl of paranoia that a snake is lurking behind every rock. She insists on hitting everything in sight with a stick just to make sure the python in her head doesn’t materialise. A small domestic breaks out but eventually logic and reason is restored and we get to the top.

It’s an electrical minefield up here. Scattered cables, wires, and rusty aerials outnumber the rocks and shrubs, but we manage to negotiate a path to an outlying piece of rock with an excellent view of the landing side of the runway, and set up the video camera. From where we are, the footage is going to be spectacular. We could probably read the date on a newspaper through the plane windows from here.

Once set up, it dawns on us that if the plane crashed, we would capture the entire tragedy on camera. How terrible! Yes. Horrific! Yes. What would the footage be worth? And we spend the next 5 minutes debating our minimum selling price.

We hear something. Yes, the sound of plane engines in the distance. The tension builds. Any minute now we are going to be touching the wings. And then Nicole spots a plane taxiing to a stop at the end of the runway. Unbelievable, it has landed from the North side of the island and we have missed it again. Of course, it has landed into the wind and if we had bothered to look at the sea, we would have seen that it was blowing from the South.

The take off is unremarkable and we head back down the mountain with no footage in the camera that we could either pimp to the highest bidder or turn into another You Tube masterpiece.

However, we find that a Greek pilot has left his co-pilot to deal with the technicalities of landing whilst he captures the great descent on film. Check it out on You Tube.


Paros Shepherd said...

Hi, I will look forward to reading more--and writing you up on my page for working at home from the beach:

Thanks for the link, I will reciprocate.


Paul and Nicole said...

thanks Shepherd

Also - we're thinking of doing a review of some of the expat blogs we've linked to - we'll make sure to include your ntoes from Paros (an island we've not been to butI don't think it's very far away)

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