There was a time in my life when travel by helicopter was the way to go between Montserrat and Antigua, when volcanic eruptions had destroyed the airport and ferry travel was still irregular.

My first chopper flight, though, happened in June 1997, days after the fatal eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano. Ministers of Montserrat Christian Council were given the opportunity of an aerial view of the devastation that had occurred in the areas they had served.

What was scary was seeing the destruction of our usual spaces for living and places of worship, the pain of knowing that the last elderly couple I pleaded unsuccessfully with to vacate the danger zone (and about 18 other persons) were buried beneath the searing grey ashes that redefined the landscape of the eastern villages we flew over.

Bur it was a great feeling looking down on creation, getting a view of how rocks were created and then rolled down gorges along the valleys. I found helicopter flights to be less bumpy than the small airplane rides. It was thrilling always to get this overview of nature and of human life.

After the construction of a little new airport and regular ferry trips to an from Antigua, a chopper has been on lease for the staff of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to do their reconnaissance flights and continue monitoring the monster in our midst.

The photo you see is of one such chopper landing at the MVO helipad.

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