Flying South

Flying South

Flying South

After a short night, the alarm was not necessary. I was awake ? Or did I sleep at all?

I don´t know…

What I do know is that I had almost no clothes. Even I have forgotten my underwear, so we can say that I am travelling really ¨light¨.

So, after a long walk, and almost frozen, I got to the airport.

Yes ! It was true: the Police was there to control the passport at 0600 am. Waooo !!!!

But Police needed the Airport Authority ( AENA) to confirm them that my flight was existing and that I was the pilot. Of course, the AENA people were to arrive at 0630…and my Take Off time was requested for 0645 local time.

I was dressed with a light shirt and summer pants together with a kind of jacket. I have decided to leave my flight suit inside the airplane, as some of the survival gear was inside. Imagine the crew that control the passengers for security, discovering knives, flares, strange radios, and things like that !

Not carrying those weapons allowed me to cross the border line and get to the bus I have paid for $50 and a 800 meters trip.

The bus converted into a small car: it was magic!

Imagine the airport: 100 passengers, times $50, for even a shorter ride, provides $5000 ?????

Do I miss something?

Did I have the look of a rich man?

The funny thing was that the driver was soldier mean I was Captain at Jerez, He did remember me very well and was happy to meet me again.

So there I was, next to the aircraft in the middle of the apron. The canopy was plenty of condensation and it was really cold.

I had to remove my cloths (we say in spanish, quedarse en bolas), and don my flight suit.

Bad weather was scheduled over Africa. It is better to avoid it during day time (the aircraft radar, is my smell sense..). Also I wanted to land at daytime…

So far night clearance was not to be provided (just some airports in Spain), so the trick was to take off as IFR (Instrumental Flights Rules) and then, over the Gibraltar straight, cancel IFR and go VFR(Visual FR), to fly low under the icing weather.

Take off was good (06:29 Z), but the airplane had a strange behavior, rolling by itself to the left.

Some 15 minutes later it was flying perfect, so I have no idea of what has happened ( it was not un unbalance condition). Light in front of me was good….(sorry, I mean lightings!)

So I went VFR with no problems from Spain nor Morroco.

It was really windy at the Straight: a ditching would have been a mystic experience.

So I hit the base a a huge thunderstorm, with plenty of turbulence activity fortunately away from me.

I was hit by heavy showers, but compared to bureaucracy, they were mild.

When the thunderstorm was left behind, the weather improved under the ceiling. Only the strong headwind was not welcome. Together with a poor power setting, I was flying too slow, may be around 110 kts GS (Ground Speed).

I switched onto the forward fuel tank, that should provide around one hour + of time and I went to some 400 ft AGL (Above Ground Level) to get rid of the headwinds. But I had to be alerted because I saw some huge antennas in front of me.

Ben Slimane Controller: EC XLL, please what is your estimate to GOOY Dakar.

Ben Slimane, ECXLL estimate Dakar at 1730 Z…. (some 11 hours ahead).

Long silence..

EC XLL, Ben Slimane, please confirm your endurance?

Ben Slimane, ELL, endurance 15 hours from now…

EC XLL. Slimane, what is your clearance number permit to fly over Morroco?

Slimane, ELL, I don´t have any number. I have filed the flight plan 48 hrs before the flight and your regulations state that 24 hours in advance is the clearance I do need .

Finally the talking changed and I was all the time required to report where I go and estimated arrival times. So I was quite busy with that, beside of taking pictures and happy to see how my ¨bathroom¨was working very well.

One hour after stwitching to the forward tank, I went to the rear tank.

It is funny to see how the venturi installed sucks the bottle inside. It is just a matter of few seconds. Although to arrivat the end of the procedure, it is another scary story.

So the countryside around was green and nice.

Sometime later:

EC XLL, will you land at Agadir for refuelling?

No Sir, my plane is small but is a long range airplane. I will not refuel anywhere….I hope!

So after three hours, the average fuel used was 28 liters per hour. The fuel was calculated for 30 liters per hours, so it was fine, as it included the take off and climb.

Then it was time to switch to the external wing tanks.

The desert is impressive !

And fascinating !

Hundreds of kilometers without anybody, and what a scenary. I was enjoying the free time between the position reports. From times to times, a small village was in view. Nothing around. Why would that people choose a place like that to stay? There was no signs of water around, all was….desert!

There was plenty of places to emergency land. Of course that I prefer to fly, but it is good to be able to have a huge airport around. Then I understood the Mauritania Civil Aviation requirements: to carry at least seven liters of water.

I was already back to IFR, at FL 080. My engine settings improved and I was getting a TAS (True Air Speed) of 155 kts, some 280 kms/hour. Fuel flow was 26 liters/hr and power was 59%. The aircraft is efficient ! But headwinds were still there.

It was already 1225 Z when Nouakchott was requesting me the clearance number of the overflight permit.

The Controller was telling me that I cannot fly over Mauritania without a permit, so I told him that

I had it. In fact, it was the first country that provided me the overflight clearance.

After some talk, he understood that I had the permit somewhere in the luggage !

Yes, I know, It should be at hand…

So next adventure was for LUC 293, flying almost at the same altitude: 41000 feet.

LUC, Morroco wants you to provide your clearance number…. and again the same story of flight plan in advance !!!

Finally they were cleared into Morroco, but it would be nice that the published procedures agree with the Controllers requests.

Outside temperature went from +3 degrees celsius to +6

Sun was shining and the canopy did its heating work, so I heated my feet with the aircraft heater and my head, with the Controllers.

The area was sand, flat, dry huge once rivers. Some black spots of lava arose from the sand , from times to times. Meanwhile, sandwiches, coffee, pastry was becoming part of me.

Coffee was a drink, not a way to keep awake.

The system to keep myself awake was the testing of the fuel tanks until they are empty. And it is funny to discover that when a fuel tank is empty, the engine quits !

Doing that over nowhere could be a bad idea, but it provided me a lot of confidence about the aircraft. Now I do know that it takes some 10 seconds for the engine to start and run stable (actually, the gravitational waves predicted by Einsten do change the time dimension and the feeling is like a never ending lapse of time before the engine runs happily again).

I have to tell you that I am really satisfied with my RV8 ER, and how the systems perform !

Average fuel flow since take off ( 10 hours ago) is 27,47 liters per hour. TAS is 162 kts (300 kms/h) at a fuel flow of 26 liters/h). Gooooood!

Time to land:

After crossing the Senegal border change the story. Green fields next to the huge river, and more plane around.

To make things easy, I was required to shoot an ILS approach, flying a long path, but finally Control Tower was cooperative and cleared me a visual approach flying a left downwind for runway 36. It was not a roomy approach as it is prohibited to fly over the city, but it was easy because the runway was long enough to turn base before reaching its end.

Landing was at 1645 Z, after a 11:16 flight time. Average fuel flow was 27,2 liters per hour.

Not bad !

I was cleared to taxi into J5 position, next to nonsense airliners (imagine: two or more engines!), just to go through customs and so. Maodo, a young pilot from the Dakar Aeroclub was waiting for me to help. And he did it, but that is a story for later. I am tired of typing !DSC_0060 copy 2S

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skypolarisadmin / Feb 21, 2016 9:11 pm / Reply

That is a great story Michel! I agree that time lengthens when you have a silent engine. Einstein did the math and he is correct.
Once again you have proven that flying the airplane is the easiest part of flying around the world. Politics, controllers, bureaucrats, fees, fees, fees.. all are why you are one of the few persons to accomplish this.

paula saiz de bustamante / Feb 21, 2016 10:23 pm / Reply

Spectacular pictures Michel! Please, look for another system to keep you awake!

MAYTE / Feb 22, 2016 4:48 am / Reply

Animo Mitchel!!! ya estas metido de lleno en el baile que tanto anhelabas , ahora disfrutalo , un abrazo muy fuerte, suerte y adelante que tu puedes
pd:voy haciendo cafe para cuando llegues?

Rafacub / Feb 22, 2016 4:26 pm / Reply

¡Ánimo Michel!

Se nota en cada línea de tus relatos la pasión por la Aviación que siempre has demostrado.

Disfruta de cada instante.

Un abrazo.

Antonio Escolar / Feb 23, 2016 9:59 am / Reply

Animo Miguel!
Intenta escribir y mandar fotos siempre que puedas. Te seguiremos a diario.
Un abrazo fuerte.

Antonio- LELC

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