Moooove Over

                                  Cows on Ometepe airport runway~ Cindi Pearlman

Growing up in Pennsylvania, we were always on the lookout for deer leaping across the highway. Last summer, Ron and I counted twenty-three dead deer when we passed the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign. Splayed along both sides of the interstate, they reminded me of a massacre of enormous puffed wheat balls.

One of Bobby’s most infamous stories was the time the Paxeo shuttle took him to the Managua airport to catch an early morning flight.  A pregnant cow wandered into the path of the shuttle. Life in the fast lane for the pregnant cow came to an abrupt end that morning. The airbag erupted and the cow’s head flew through the windshield. Covered with blood and burns from the airbag, Bobby caught another taxi to the airport where the attendants looked at him in horror. They put him in first class and attended to his wounds, even offering him a change of clothes and free drinks.  Paxeos didn’t charge him for the trip, then offered him future discounted fares to the airport.

Road kill is prevalent on every highway and road in the world, but what are the statistics on runway kill?  With the Ometepe airport near completion, I wonder about the cows that cross the runway. How many animals have been hit by planes? According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, “Runway incursions are today one of the major factors affecting flight safety. Animals on the runway are a particularly pervasive problem at many airports.”

In March 2012, an airliner hit two cows while landing in Venezuela, killing both bovines and damaging the landing gear and the flaps on the plane’s left-wing. Below are a few other accidents with cows on the runway:

  • In 2005, a herd of cows was hit by an Air France Airbus A330 carrying nearly 200 passengers while landing in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Following that incident, local authorities began arresting stray cows and holding them until their owners paid a fine.
  • In 2011, an Aviastar Twin Otter carrying 30 people hit three cows while landing at Komodo Airport in Indonesia. The front of that plane suffered damage and the cows were killed.
  • And in 2008, the wing of a British biplane clipped a cow while making an emergency landing, an incident which was caught on video. The cow was not injured. Unbelievable!

Watch out Ometepe bovines! Mooove over when those big ole’ planes sweep down to our island. Keep a moooovin on or you may be my next meal of runway kill.

Come Fly With Me

                         The new airport runway

Early in the morning, every morning, I hear the graders and the bulldozers working on the new airport. I’m keeping a photo essay of the progress. Once a week, I walk our beach path to the airport to take photos. This photo is about a month old. It looks like another walk is in order.

Tourists will be able to fly from Managua, San José, and maybe other places directly to Ometepe Island in 2012.  It has its pros and cons. It’s too soon to tell. Honestly, the only advantages for us are that if the volcano blows, maybe we can make a quick getaway, and if we have a medical emergency, we can fly directly to Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua. I’ll keep you all updated on the progress.