A day at the airport – Caribbean cargo operations
My first encounter with the human remains issue was in San Juan, where I spied a small cardboard box sitting atop a pile of cargo just prior to loading. The box had originally contained toilet seats and in a bizarre twist, the company logo featured a pugnacious, diapered baby wearing a pair of boxing gloves with his fists up as if he were sparing. I made an off-hand comment about the box to the loadmaster who flatly replied, “it’s a baby.”
I said, “What!? You’re joking!”
He repeated, “It’s a baby.”
I scoffed, “Oh sure, we always fly baby deliveries in cardboard boxes for toilet seats that just happen to have a picture of a baby on the box. With a rather disgusted expression, he produced the cargo manifest and pointed to the listing for the box – “Human Remains” – and repeated, “it’s a baby.”
Somewhat disturbed, I mumbled under my breath, “I guess that makes me the grim stork.”
That was San Juan Puerto Rico.
I never quite got over the bizarre serendipity of that moment. Watch the movie “The Rum Diaries” for an idea of what San Juan was like. The movie features Johnny Depp as a character from an unfinished novel by Hunter S. Thompson. There’s even an airport scene with a twin beech in the background. For me, the beginning of the movie was a real memory flogger, listening to “Volare” as a bright red cub tows a banner over the beachfront. The song, the cub and the hotel in the final shot of the opening are related to personal moments of life that now only dimly exist in memory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMg9sNycXqY
While there are a number of aircraft featured in the diorama, the C-47 is one of two main aircraft the diorama theme centers around. The other aircraft is a C-45 awaiting final finish.
Here is the action as viewed. The C-47 on the ramp is being loaded with cargo.
The loader inside the C-47 plans positioning of the crates once loaded aboard.
Up front, a couple of men from “Flying A Service” carefully fill the C-47’s fuel tanks according to the aircraft’s loading.
Access to the fuel tanks is provided by a well-worn, yellow, work stand at the leading edge of the port wing. The raised platform’s canvas buffer strip, typically an old piece of fire hose, can be seen mounted around the edge to prevent damaging the aircraft.
An avionics technician sits in the left seat of the cockpit
At the edge of the ramp, a technician puzzles over replacing a burned out taxiway light.
It was all in day’s work.
Stay Tuned – Up next: A gear retraction test on King Aerial Survey’s Cessna T-50 Bobcat.
25 additional images. Click to enlarge.