Mountains in southern Argentina

I was involved in the flight testing of the Canadair Regional Jet series 700, which is a stretched version on the original Canadair regional jet. The flight testing in icing conditions was supposed to be done in North America in the winter of 1999/2000, but the schedule slipped, and Bombardier had to go to the southern hemisphere to find winter conditions. They ended up in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina in July 2000.

Downtown Comodoro Rivadavia I didn't know what to expect when I went to Argentina. Comodoro Rivadavia is an "oil town" of about 150,000 people, on the Atlantic coast in southern Argentina, at about 45 degrees south latitude. It has a very nice European type downtown shopping and restaurant area, which is very busy as there were no shopping centres. The pace of life is very different from what I was used to. The siesta still is king down here. All businesses close for three hours after lunch, and many people take a nap. In the evening, the restaurants don't open until 8 PM, but most people don't eat until 9 or 10. Eating is a very social event, so the typical dinner in a restaurant takes 3 hours. The bars don't start to fill up until midnight, and they are busy until 5 or 6 in the morning (actually, they are busy until at least 7 AM Sunday morning). We meet for the preflight briefing at 8 AM every morning, and we are flying during the siesta period, so we couldn't really do the bar scene.

The locals don't speak much english, and I don't speak any spanish, so it was pretty much just point and grunt as far as communications go. They are friendly people though. We didn't fly one day, so we drove around and stumbled across a small airfield with a private flying club. The only guy there was a mechanic, but we had a long talk with him, then he phoned up El Presidente del Aeroclub who came to the airport to meet us. The aeroclub is 60 years old, and has very nice facilities, with a nice hangar, and a great bar/lounge/kitchen area that looks like a formal restaurant/bar. They were having their monthly dinner the next night, and invited us to come by, but we had to decline as he needed to get to bed early to fly the next day.

Sunrise from the hotel The sunrises were typically very spectacular, and we got to see them all, as the sun didn't come up until 9 AM. Comodoro Rivadavia is really in the wrong time zone for some strange reason.

seals on the wharf There was a large group of seals and sea lions that took their siestas on the local wharf, napping in big piles. They would pretty much ignore us, as long as we stayed at least 10 feet away from them.

sealionsThe seals were about the size I expected, but the sea lions were huge. They were up to eight feet long, and looked to be very well fed.

Mountains around UshuaiaWe ended up landing for fuel in Ushuaia, Argentina one day. Ushuaia is almost at the southern tip of South America, and bills itself as the southernmost city in the world. It's on the web, so it must be true :-)

This shot shows Ushuaia from 15,000 ft altitude (about three miles up). The runway is on the peninsula south of town. The town is the area on the coast at about 4:00 from the airport. These three shots show some of the mountains around the town. The area was very beautiful - the digital photos don't really do it justice.

Mountains around Ushuaia These two shots show some of the mountains and fiords around the town. The area was very beautiful - the digital photos don't really do it justice.

Mountains around Ushuaia