Painting Planes

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Now three days in, the curricula is all but complete. We are purchasing the last manikins, glucometers, and other training supplies, and Dr. Victor Hugo, medical director of Mano A Mano Aviación is confirming all guest lecturers. As we confer in the hangar’s meeting room, we see the mechanics hard at work painting one of two new planes. It is wrapped in the corner like a conspicuous birthday present.

Once finished, it will bear the same blue and grey strips as its larger cousin, a Piper Navajo Chiefton, which will answer the majority of the emergency medical calls. Its space medical personnel and equipment means it will handle the most severe emergencies.

Today while working in the hanger, two patients arrived by air from the campo, having never seen mountains before. Only in postcards! exclaimed one.

To this day, many people still do not believe that Mano a Mano Aviación will send a plane across the country for them — and at no cost.

It is a service unimaginable for many developed countries. Yet, here in Bolivia, it’s routine.