Video follows. From our snug accommodations at the Hostel del Andes in Pucon we wondered about the weather. Dawn was chilly and overcast, we were hesitant. We weren’t sure what to do.
In the afternoon Liz and Charlie were going horseback riding with a local rancher. Pam and I had it in our minds to head for an afternoon soak in a natural hot springs. The morning open – not a travel day.
Chile is volcano country with 2,000 dormant and 200 active. We toyed with the idea of splurging and taking a helicopter ride to the top of Vulcan Villarrica. Pam contacted the pilot on What’s App and he claimed it was clear at Pucon’s airport. Today was the last for these two pilots, their season was over and they were flying their helicopter back to Santiago later today. No way for tomorrow.
We held our breath and took our chances and drove to the airport. Pilot and chopper were there, ready to fly. The overcast had broken at the airfield. We went for it. Four of us passengers, one in the front and three behind, plus the pilot.
He knew his way through the ridges and uplifted forest at the base of Villarrica. And after a season of flying this peak, he knew to to circle around the slopes to gain enough altitude to fly directly over the summit. On our last pass over the smoking crater we caught a glimpse of the red magma at the bottom of the caldera. It was magic, a peak into the unknown, a glimpse of the power in the earth.
As a pilot friend said to me after seeing the video, “I don’t know what you paid for it but you got your money’s worth on that ride!”
Indeed we did, and we’ll never forget it.
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