On Sunday morning July 9, four travellers met up at the red-white meeting point at Schiphol. Six others took different routes or were already in Colombia. We would all meet up at our hotel for the next days. It was a short hop to Frankfurt where we boarded an A340 for the long haul to Bogota. We landed well in time and after the arrival formalities we were greeted by our local coordinator. A short ride in a shuttle bus brought us to the new Courtyard hotel, which has views on the runway and some of the platforms. We greeted the rest of the group minus 1, who was delayed. A first look from the hotel room resulted in a few LAS B727’s and AerCaribe Antonovs.
On Monday July 10 we all agreed that we would stick to the plan and take our bus to visit the Colombian Army base of Tolemaida. Although we were 1 approval signature short for our planned tour, we were hoping this approval would be received in time. We peeked at the air force helicopter base Melgar from the outside, which resulted in a long list of numbers of the based helicopters and a few Cessna 208s. Unfortunately there was no flying activity. After lunch and a wait, the clearance to access Tolemaida was (finally) received. After the main gate security process and the long drive to the platforms, we were allowed to roam freely until darkness, under the watchful eye of our guide. All maintenance hangars, tents and the flight lines were visited. Over 50 Blackhawks, Hueys and Mi-17s were added to the logbook and many of them to the memory cards. When it got dark we briefly met with the base commander, thanking him for the hospitality and opportunity to visit. We had dinner on base, after which we returned to our hotel in Bogota. The final participant also arrived this evening so our group of 10 was now complete.