Paul Filmer continues his Colombia series with a visit to uaymaral, home of the Colombian Police’s helicopter force of Hueys, Blackhawks and Bell 212/412s.
During the afternoon of our first day, we drove north of Bogota to the airfield at Guaymaral to visit the Colombian Police.
After easy security formalities we were presented with an overview of what the police here in Colombia are tasked with.
Unlike many other countries they are more like another branch of the military, mostly due to the drug industry problems that still exist, and fly many hundreds of missions into danger each year. This necessitates a large helicopter fleet for quick reaction missions.
They have a pair of ramps at this airfield, and at the first location we were greeted by a bunch of UH-60L Blackhawks being overhauled inside the hangar.
We were to find as the trip progressed that the Colombians are very well set up to perform both heavy maintenance and manufacturing of aircraft and parts, pretty much self-sufficient.
Outside on the ramp were more examples of UH-60s plus a rather smart looking Bell 212, in a more civilian looking green and white scheme.
Also parked just inside the hangar was another green and white machine, this time a Bell 412EP.
As the light was so bright in the middle of the day, photography proved tricky on this ramp.
We were then taken further east along the airfield to their second ramp.
Here there was a lot more activity with UH-1H-II, or Huey II, helicopters undergoing various stages of maintenance inside the hangar.
Another Bell 212 was being worked on here, but this time it was in the familiar dark green colour scheme.
The ramp again proved tricky for photography. The light was at a better angle, but the sun was constantly hiding behind clouds, which made for some interesting quick dashes across the ramp to shoot individual cabs.
The best looking UH-1H-II was painted light grey with a red stripe, and looked very smart in the sun.
After our visit to the Police we were due to go to the Aeroclub de Colombia, but before that we had already spied a DC-9-15 on display at the entrance to a different flying club.
As we disembarked from the bus the security guy at the hut by the entrance seemed bemused that we’d want to take photo of some old aircraft.
His guard dog took the same view, running to the end of his chain lead until he choked himself at each lunge, barking the whole time.
After a little negotiation, the guard allowed us just inside the entrance to get a better angle on the DC-9. I still don’t know its identity and whether it’s an ex-military aircraft or civilian.
On to the Aeroclub de Colombia and we were allowed to wander their area, after a nice cup of coffee.
A promising first day done, it was back to the hotel, which was far from any city life, or even commerce, apart from the airport, so we were forced to eat in the rather overpriced and not so great hotel restaurant!