Edwin drove us to Las Dunas Airport after our wine and pisco tasting. Las Dunas Airport is a private airport located in Ica Peru. As we arrived at the airport, the plane that we would be flying on, landed from an earlier flight to the Nazca Lines. Not many passengers were on the flight that just landed. Just one family who from what I could tell were American like ourselves got out of the Cessna Grand Caravan and posed for pictures with the aircraft.
We went inside the small terminal building to checkin for our flight. Even though this is a private airport with no commercial flights, the terminal still had a metal detector and ID check before allowing passengers to pass onto the tarmac. Everyone flying on the Cessna Grand Caravan, must first be weighed. The tour company that we booked the flight with asked for our weights ahead of time when we originally booked, but at the airport, Movilair makes every passenger stand on the scale in the picture above. If you lied about your weight or gave them your butt naked weight, the truth will be revealed once you step on the scale. Lucky for everyone though, the numbers are only visible to the person checking you in.
Once my parents and I were checked in, we were issued a boarding pass and given a map of the Nazca Lines which showed the the route that our Cessna Grand Caravan would be flying. Movilair, which is the name of the airline that operates the flights to Nazca Lines, takes thier operations seriously with boarding passes and all. As it got closer to departure time, we were asked to pay the airport tax at the tax payment counter. I brought money for the airport tax in US Dollars as instructed by the tour company but at the tax payment counter, Peruvian Sol are also accepted according to the signage. We did get some grief from the gentleman collecting the airport tax, because the $10.00 bill that I gave him had a small ink mark on it. My dad found a crisp $10.00 bill in is wallet and exchanged it for the one with the ink mark on it.
When boarding time came, we were directed through security. They really take security seriously here! Security people opened up everyones bag to inspect the contents inside and will make you go through the metal detector multiple times until you stop beeping. Once we were through the security check, we waited in the holding room behind security until one of the pilots came in to escort the whole group outside onto the tarmac.
Once everyone was gathered outside on the tarmac, the pilot gave safety instructions for the Cessna Grand Caravan that we would be flying on and also explained to the passengers how best to view the Nazca Lines from the air. Our pilot explained that he would bank the aircraft both right and left for passengers sitting on both sides of the aircraft and during the banking maneuver passengers should follow the wing down to the ground with their eyes to see the specific Nazca Line that we were flying over. After the instructions, each passenger was boarded and instructed where to sit based on the weight and balance calculations that was completed with everyones weight which were recorded during checkin. I was assigned the first seat on the right side of the aircraft behind the pilot.
Once aboard, I strapped myself in and snapped pictures of the controls of our Cessna Grand Caravan before the pilots boarded. Once the pilots boarded, everyone strapped in and the doors closed, the engine started and we began to move once the wheel chocks were removed and the ground crew gave a final thumbs up. The taxi to the runway was short and we quickly powered down the runway and lifted off the ground. Once we were airborne, we turned 180 degrees towards the Nazca Lines.
Once our Cessna Grand Caravan flew out of Ica City, it was pretty much all barren desert. The black line in the picture above is the Pan American Highway. I was not able to take a picture of it but, the Pan American Highway cuts right through the tail of the Lizard Nazca Lines. When the highway was being built, the engineers did not know about the Nazca Lines and accidentally paved right through the middle of the lizards tail.
Once we got to the Nazca Lines, the pilot made an announcement and he started the 45 degree banking maneuvers over the Nazca Lines. In the picture above, is the astronaut drawn on the side of the mountain. The astronaut was the clearest of the animals and figures out of all of the Nazca Lines that I saw during the flight. Other Nazca Lines took a bit of straining to find on the desert floor, but if I followed the wing down with my eyes as everyone was instructed by the pilot before boarding, It was not too difficult to find the object we were flying over.
The Whale Nazca Lines can be seen in the picture above. You have to look hard but it is in the picture. Hint – Look where the two lines meet at a right angle.
The Monkey Nazca Lines with the spiral tail is in the picture above. Sorry, but there are no prominent features to use as a reference to find the monkey. You are going to have to look hard but the Monkey Nazca Lines is in the picture above.
Hummingbird and Runways Nazca Lines are in the picture above. The hummingbird is right next to the prominently visible runway on the right side of the picture.
While at first I was fine during the flight, halfway through all the 45 degree turns, I started to get sick. So sick that I had to use the airsickness bag in the seat pocket in front of me. Luckily, we were running late this morning and we skipped breakfast so there was only dry heaving and no projectile vomiting. At this point of the flight, I stopped all picture taking and I just wanted the flight to end. If there was vomit, the airsickness bag which was small and flimsy, would have been of no use. I do not know what kind of mess would have transpired up in the confined space of our Cessna Grand Caravan had I vomited.
My mom, who was sitting in the seat right behind me saw that I was sick and started to fan me with the map of the Nazca Lines she received during checkin. She said I turned pale and was also sweating profusely up in the air. Once our Cessna Grand Caravan leveled off and started flying back to the airport, I was starting to feel better. One thing that was concerning to me was the fuel warning that went off every time we hit a little turbulence. My dad, who is a private pilot did not seem too worried about the fuel warning so I did not let it bother me. According to my dad, Cessna’s have highly inaccurate fuel gauges. One thing that did bother my dad was that the pilot landed with tailwind instead going around and landing with headwind. According to my dad, the pilot should have known better, no matter how weak of a tailwind was blowing.
Once we landed and taxied back to the ramp, all I wanted to do was get out of the Cessna Grand Caravan as quickly as possible and get some fresh air. While planning for this flight took months, and I boarded the Cessna Grand Caravan excited to finally be able to see the Nazca Lines which I had until now only seen in travel shows, but all it took was some bad airsickness and I was completely over it. Still, this is another event that my parents and I can check off of our list of place to visit and things to do.
Word of advice for anyone planning on flying over the Nazca Lines. Do not eat a heavy meal before the flight. Stick to things like bars or other carbs that can be easily digested. The last thing you want to do is projectile vomit inside the small confined space of the Cessna Grand Caravan. If you do, I am sure the other passengers will only remember you and not the Nazca Lines.