Tours and Activities:
Flying over the PacificMónica Pons Mario Ptasik
As if it was a giant world map, the sea and the land become integrated and magnified while the serenity of experienced pilots makes us notice how far from the ground we can get.
It is well-known that the Pacific Ocean has its own features at the Lake District in southern Chile. Teeming with islands, some of them close to the continent and some others lying more far away, observing the movement of the waters and the rocky formations from the air is a dazzling scene.
We set out at the airfield of Puerto Varas in the company of Santiago Vidal, who set the instruments heading northwest. Little by little, we left behind Lake Llanquihue, the Osorno Volcano and Puerto Montt. We bade farewell to the estuaries to fly towards the vast sea. As we turned southwards, we spotted the huge Chiloé Island. In spite of the height, we could discover how wild the coastline is. Small islets with fishermen villages and others just dwelled by sea fauna appeared before us. Then we made out the Cities of Ancud and Castro, where we would land eventually.
Santiago told us about the history of aviation in the area. In the not too distant past, there were no roads on the island and it was joined to the continent through sea navigation only. However, due to health emergencies, it was essential for planes to reach the required destination promptly. Thus, the Chilean government took into consideration this situation and provided funds for flights to move patients, evacuate people or extinguish forest fires. This scenario gave way to the creation of airfields which, in turn, trained professional pilots more out of need than pleasure. Today, the excellent level of pilots is evident at each of the entities on the island which devote hours to this means of communication.
As we flew over the Community of Ancud, to the north of the island, we spotted the green lung made up by Chiloé National Park. The aircraft experienced a subtle movement so as to keep us alert in front of so much beauty. Unspoiled and intact nature was boasting its silence and quietness. We continued southwards over the shore and crossed several lakes. At last, we reached Quellón, the last important settlement.
The conversation we had during the flight unveiled certain details we ignored. As a result, we discovered the salmon breeding stations and their huge ships. We also saw pellet factories, where salmon food is made, and smaller watercrafts led by thousands of men who help this industry prosper.
We went up the island over the opposite shore towards Castro as we admired each of the main settlements on Chiloé. As we landed, we enjoyed the view of the palafitos painted in a thousand colors, the local roads and the city itself, with its church, its main square and its vegetation. If it had looked charming from the air, as we touched ground, it looked even more eye-catching.
It was the culmination of a two-hour flight over the harsh, deep blue Pacific Ocean, which showed us its populated as well as its desert islands. We were welcomed by the historical airfield which has been training extraordinary pilots ever since 1946. We thanked Santiago for the experience we had just shared and for letting us dream of something as wonderful as beholding life from the air.
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