Riet Delsing


Shortly after my arrival on Rapa Nui in early September 1996, I witnessed an unusual sight at the Mataveri airport. Not only is it unheard of to see four airplanes simultaneously on the runway, but these planes were also not the usual Boeing 767 jets of LAN Chile. One of them belonged to the Chilean Airforce, another one to the Chilean Navy, and the remaining two to NASA. In most other places of the world this scenario might indicate some kind of military trouble. Not so on Rapa Nui, where it only reminds us of the peculiar relationship the island maintains with the outside world, the fact that it is Chile's foothold in the Pacific, and of its position as a tracking station for American space research.