The idea came from Plane & Pilot magazine.

Santiago Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 13 › view all entries
Jaime shows off his ongoing project.
Back in July 2006, I read an article in Plane & Pilot magazine about a "self fly" tour of Chile ( As a fairly new pilot, I wasn't quite ready at the time, but it certainly sounded like the trip of a lifetime. I put it on the To Do list.

By September of 2007, I was ready. And my friend Lisa was almost ready too. In fact just the day before we were to leave for Chile, she took her "check ride" to finally earn her Private Pilot's certificate after many months of flying lessons. Unfortunately it didn't go QUITE as planned, so she would be taking the trip as a student pilot. (She did pass her check ride upon our return to the states though!)

Lisa came from Minneapolis, and I came from Chicago. We met in Atlanta on the evening of Sept 14 to embark on the 9-hour flight to Santiago.
Lisa and I are distracted by a helicopter. NO, we can't fly it!
Delta had a fairly good deal ($2800 RT), so we sprang for Business Class - 9 hours is a LONG flight, but it passed fairly easily, with plenty of food and beverage to keep us occupied, plus I was able to sleep.

We were met (Sept 15) in Santiago by Jaime, who owns Tour Aviation, and his Operations Manager, Leo. They were there with a sign and huge smiles. They seemed very excited to have us (we later learned that we were only the second group to take this trip - it's a new endeavor for Jaime). They brought us to our hotel, the Intercontinental, which seemed to be kind of dumpy for an Intercontinental, and in the middle of nothing. We planned to meet up again at 1:00 after naps. Good thing Lisa woke up at noon - I think I would have slept for many more hours!

Jaime (pronounced HIGH-MEE) met us in the lobby and took us to the airport to meet the plane we would be flying.
Jaime treats me and Lisa to lunch at the restaurant Zanzibar in Santiago.
His office was full of photos and memorabilia from his aviation-crazed family. He started his main business, Aero Trust, in his mid-20's, over ten years ago. He has built a nice fleet and a good business checking oil lines from the air and providing corporate pilot services. He is modest, but it is obvious he is proud of his accomplishments, his company, and Chile -- a wonderful ambassador to this country. I was happy to be one of the first customers of Tour Aviation, a new facet in his "aviation empire" (my words, not his).

We learned we would be flying a Cessna 210. Gulp. The plane had 6 seats, 300 HP and retractable gear. Interesting! I have my High Performance endorsement (300 hp is not a problem), but the landing gear, flaps, and adjustable pitch prop mean this plane is Complex, and neither Lisa nor I were qualified. No worries, I gotta learn sometime, right?!

The weather was disappointingly COOL, and as usual I was not properly outfitted. I thought I had done pretty well when I packed, but upon further review I found I was missing certain cool weather necessities: no jacket, no fleece, no coat. Doh! I must have a missing packing gene. I never get it right.

After the airport, Jaime brings us to lunch at Zanzibar. It had an ominous Moroccan look to it (Lisa and I both got food poisoning in Morocco - don't even SHOW us couscous!), but the menu was full of international selections. I had a dull pounding headache from caffeine withdrawal, and guzzled a Red Bull-wannabe called Battery. Not bad. We ordered salads and I got the vegetarian lasagna. Cannelloni for Lisa. They brought it all out at once - they seem to do that here: bring all the courses out together. The food was all EXCELLENT.

After lunch Jaime dropped us at a mall not far from our hotel for some coat shopping. Unfortunately, it's spring here and the stores were stocked with summer merchandise. We were there for hours, walked for miles... I did finally find a fleece at adidas. Warmth, hooray! We also had a delicious chocolate treat at a store called La Fete. Yum!

We then wandered about trying to find a bar. Because of our huge, late lunch, dinner was not in the cards. But a margarita might be a nice way to end the evening! We finally landed at an Italian restaurant there at the mall where I had an icy, salt-encrusted margarita and Lisa enjoyed some of that famous Chilean wine.

Our cab got lost on the way back to the hotel, and by the time we got there we were hungry after all. Just a light snack perhaps. We ended up at the hotel restaurant, Bice, and were the only patrons present. The "light snack" somehow turned out to be pappardelle with blue cheese sauce - ugh! But good. And off to bed.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Jaime shows off his ongoing projec…
Jaime shows off his ongoing proje…
Lisa and I are distracted by a hel…
Lisa and I are distracted by a he…
Jaime treats me and Lisa to lunch …
Jaime treats me and Lisa to lunch…
photo by: Bluetraveler