Sleepy Montserrat 1983

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Wild Bill
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Sleepy Montserrat 1983

Unread post by Wild Bill » Tue Aug 05, 2008

It was late 1983. I was flying my usual overloaded Beech 18 across many miles of open blue water toward my desitination Montserrat. It would be my first try at this little island airport & I was a bit apprehensive approaching it.

About 20 N.W. I started calling Montserrat Tower. Of course, I got the expected no answer. Flew a few miles further on & was expecting at least a slow response this time. Again, nothing.

Now at about 5 miles out & at the N.W. coast of the beautiful island, I called again & again, no reply! Now low on fuel from St. Thomas, I continued on & called constantly...nothing. Looking for traffic, there wasn't any, I proceeded into a left downwind for the west runway while making all the required callouts...of course, no response to these either.

I landed, expecting to be met with a military overthrow or something like that. Nobody. Entirely empty. This place in 1983 looked like something out of an old Humphrey Bogart movie set. Palms & bush lining both sides of the runway, just a very tropical setting. Lush greenery & beautiful.

Standing there, looking up at the control tower, I could see nobody there either in the faded, hazy, hadn't-been-cleaned-in-a-lifetime windows.

Walking closer, I could see that the door was open to the tower. Apprehensively, I ascended the stairs up to the control tower cab. Thereupon, I discovered to my smiling relief, the tower operator fast asleep on his control desk & a friend who I assumed was the Customs representative also fast asleep in his reclining chair. Both letting out a bellows of snores!

Who was I to wake them up? Quietly, I descended the stairs & upon arrival at the bottom was met by my unloading crew. Telling them the story above, they said "Oh Mon! They sleep all the time! They never work too hard here!" Laughing my butt off, me & the crew proceeded to unload the old C-45 Beech.

Not bothering to wake up the Customs guy back in the tower, I gassed up, cranked up & flew off never hearing a word later about why I never cleared in or out of the island.

Such was the great Caribbean life in the early 1980s.

Bill Catalina
Tallahassee, Florida 2008

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