Out Of Dalanzadgad
This is a journal entry that David Kempisty wrote on his trip to Mongolia, to visit brother (fraternity) Justin K. It appears they had quite an adventure, which is par for the course for these two cowboys.
Down the dirt runway we are about to go. Earlier than the scheduled take-off time of 0945, we are going nonetheless. Surely #1 for take-off. Our small plane begins to move. The movement has stopped and the propeller is stationary. Idle time begins aboard Mongolian Airlines flight no. 2. Save for the sounds of hard candies being unwrapped and newspapers folded, silence looms throughout the passenger cabin. Is it my friend's iPod causing instrument interference? A man in combat boots and a fatigue hat comes down from the 5m high air traffic control tower (hut?) and approaches the plane. Conversation is overheard and an exclamation of "Yehhh" is heard. Success? Switches toggle -- panels open and close -- but no mechanical action results. An apparently civilian runner is sent to communicate with the air traffic control hut. Another from the hut comes down to visit the troubled plane. The runner returns. Engines resume -- only to stop again. Apparently a second stop equates to a second degree problem; the passengers are no longer silent and Mongol chatter reigns throughout the cabin. The wait continues until we are told to leave the aircraft; another plane is on the way with the needed part (a battery?). A one hour wait is offered as the expected wait time. Thoughts of Sasquatch, little green men and a sea monster named Nessie enter my head. The billiards table is uncovered. One game. Two games. Three games. More. Well over the one hour estimate, cold beer and food are sought out. Cold Hite beers and steamed mutton dumplings called buudz are produced. Yum. We join our Mongolian friends in the parking lot who are partaking in a different treat: vodka. Attitudes are corrected but the Hites run out. In the Russian Waz jeep we go to the store to resupply. More beer and more vodka are purchased. Apparently not unusual, we regroup on the far end of the runway and celebrate life, death and things in between with our recent purchases. Our plane, still disabled, is in sight with a crew in mixed uniforms tending to her. Just as the wrestling stories start to be acted out, the plane spits some exhaust and both propellers are seen as operational. Hastily we climb back into the Waz, finish purchased beers, and make our way back to the plane. Seats are found and engine #1 is a go - the same for engine #2. Again first for take-off, we proceed down the dirt runway. Its 1405 and privileged with a window seat, I watch the wheels recede into the plane's frame. Final destination: Ulaanbaatar.
UPDATE (3/17/2010): Finally reattached the images that got lost in a few blog upgrades over the years. So glad to have this story and the supporting images!