In the 1990’s I had a small skydiving operation on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin islands that my friend John and I ran for two winters. We would’ve continued to operate it longer than two years but our wives realized that while they were stuck in the snowy north land taking care of the kids and working full time jobs, we were living it up in paradise, drinking cheap rum, and generally having a good time. Can’t have that now can we? But while we were there we had a good time, living in a small office at the airport, and doing enough paying jumps to keep us afloat.
One day a man walked into our tiny office and asked for our help. He told us that he was the owner of a long line fishing boat called the Stormin’ Norman that was stranded in the middle of the Caribbean sea. The boat’s fuel pump had given up the ghost and despite the crews best efforts they had been drifting powerlessly for three days. The owner told us that because the boat was over two hundred miles from the nearest land, and in international waters, none of the countries in the area had any interest in sending help. He asked us if it might be possible to fly our Cessna 182 jump plane out to the boat and rescue them by dropping them a replacement fuel pump. Apparently the owner had been unable to find a boat to hire that could reach the stranded crew in any reasonable time frame and our plane was the only one that had a door that could be opened in-flight to allow an air-drop. I did some calculations, and due to the fact that my 182 had long range tanks, concluded that it would be possible to fly out to the stranded boat, drop off the replacement fuel pump, and return with a reasonable fuel reserve. There was still the fact that if anything went wrong and we were forced to ditch, we’d be just as screwed as the fishing boat crew. But instead of being in a steel boat full of fish to eat, we’d be sitting in a small rubber raft. The whole plan sounded very risky, but that never stopped me before.
To be continued.