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Pole to Pole

Day 138: Punta Arenas to Patriot Hills

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe classic outline of a Douglas DC-6, blue and red streak along its white and silver fuselage, stands in a corner of the airstrip. Beside it, instead of Bogart and Bacall, are Bruce Allcorn and his wife Pat, supervising the loading and refuelling. Yesterday Anne Kershaw told me the plane was built in 1948. Bruce shakes his head as if to reassure me:

'No . . . no . . . no. 1953.'

I'm about to reply 'before my time', when I realize that this was the aeroplane of my childhood. This was what I drew when I drew an aeroplane.

We board by a perilously slim extending ladder, with a piece of rope for support. Inside there is none of the squash and squeeze of a conventional airliner. Basically it is an empty shell into which whatever is required for the flight has been fitted. There are twenty-eight of us going to the Patriot Hills, so there are some thirty seats set out in readiness. A bulkhead separates the passengers from the cargo hold, where Kazama-San's motorbike occupies pride of place. Pristine white, it stands on its frame like a knight on a tomb. Bruce, in his captain's overalls with four stripes on the epaulette, and Louie the qualified stuntman insert themselves into the cramped cockpit and make their final checks.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 138
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 305

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