National Geographic : 1982 Sep
THE AIRPLANE was still burning when I arrived. It was a DC-6, and it sprawled nose down, charred and evis cerated, off the end of an unfinished air strip on the island of Great Abaco. A tiny finger of flame, like a pilot light, cast an eerie purple glow inside the cockpit as night crept in off the ocean. "I wouldn't get close," said Lewis Pinder, the retired hog hunter who had guided me here through back roads and swamps. "That be a fuel line burnin', and if she get a bubble in there, she gonna blow." I asked Mr. Pinder if anyone had been hurt in the crash. "Who knows? They fade away in the bush, and far's anyone know, they never happened. They not stupid, them druggers. They buy a plane ticket for where they come from, then they try again. This baby proba bly had five to eight million dollar' worth of marijuana on her." He smiled. "At them prices, you only have to succeed once." I wondered aloud why the plane crashed. "Why do any of them crash? Came in here with a payload of about 35,000 pounds, at night, with no lights. Probably landed long and overshot the runway, and bang!" "Exploded?" "Nope. Didn't even burn. They took a lot of the grass off her-nobody knows how much-before the police came. Left about a hundred bales on the ground here, then took off. People're saying it was the police shot out the tires and set her afire." "The police? What for?" "Who know 'bout these things?" He shrugged. "This the Bahamas, man."