Paul Filmer hasn’t really done too much in South America, but when he was alerted that there was a chance to visit propliner haven Villavicencio, it was too much of an opportunity to pass up, especially when a couple of old travel pals were going along. His Colombian story starts here.
I tried my hardest to avoid travelling on a legacy US carrier, but flight times and routings forced me into flying United Airlines via Houston to get to Bogota International (BOG). Luckily it’s only five hours from Houston, so it was bearable.
I arrived late in the evening and met up with Steve Kinder and Arthur Stevens in the bar of our hotel in readiness for the start of the adventure.
Early the next morning we were due to visit the Fuerza Aerea Colombia (FAC) museum at Bogota Airport, which was just across the road from the hotel. As there were loads of road works around the airport this drive took a very long time, and this would become a feature of staying at this hotel, later on in the trip.
I’m not one for visiting museums, I snap the aircraft but seldom process the photos. We were allowed in for a set period of time and escorted by a member of staff. The aircraft are mostly lined up on two sides of the dead-end road that led up to the museum building.
For some reason we weren’t allowed to take any photos of the aircraft on the walk down to the museum, which seemed like a strange thing to do. Everyone was led into the museum building, but I elected to hide up outside as I’d spied the FAC F-28-1000 taxiing out to depart.
The museum borders runway 13R/31L, so shots are possible through the multitude of telephone wires that are in the way. My patience paid off, and with this being the only aircraft I was hoping to shoot at BOG I was happy.
After the visit, we were allowed to shoot the displayed aircraft on the way back down the road; we exited the gate to go to our coach, which was parked outside in a dirt parking space. There was a displayed DC-3 at the entrance, which had a large grass bank in front of it. Well, it would have been rude not to shoot it!
Our guide wasn’t sure, and our tour leader was hesitant about us shooting the DC-3. Off we all trooped anyway and took our time snapping with no issues. The aircraft was almost too shiny in the hot sun.
We took a drive along the perimeter road where the Colombian Police are based, and people by the windows managed a few shots as we crawled along the road, looking very suspicious. I managed one shot only, and I only got that by barging someone out the way who was hogging the window! The BT67 I shot did look rather nice though.
We then drove to a park where an Avianca Boeing 720 was displayed. The park was closed, however, and our guide had no idea where to go or what to do. Yet again we used our initiative and started to scope out possible shooting locations. A guy waiting for a bus sussed out what we wanted to do, and told us to follow him down the road. Off we went, and 10 minutes later got to an entrance with a security booth. He spoke to the guys and the answer was no, we couldn’t go inside.
Undeterred however, he led us further down the road and we came to an entrance that led to the aircraft, albeit the wrong side of another fence. The location was at least better than from outside on the road.
So ended the first morning. Many of us had already decided our local tour guide was as good as useless, so we would have to make our own arrangements to make the most of the trip, and later on that would become evident.