Stormy Equator

Stormy Equator

It was still twilight, and so far everything was fine. Early get up, at 03 am, for a take off at 05 am local.

The day before, I flew from Severino Lopez airfield, where we were (my RV and myself) hosted, into Sao Gonçalo, the internacional Natal airport.



Turning the Natal State University´s LIDAR, for Black Carbon




Severino Lopez welcome crew, led by Almir

Finally, even not a 24 hrs full service airport, there was no problem to have everything readied. Even I was allowed to pay the taxes the previous evening, have the Immigration solved, and also the Receita Federal (very efficient and fast). Also the flight plan was filed by AIS.

So, the early get up had just one purpose: not flying over water during night time.

The reason?….

Not a landing at night issue, but just thinking about ditching in open ocean in pitch dark, is something really ¨interesting¨….?

0445 am… the Marshaller was close to me. Lucky him not to see my striptease in the middle of the apron, to don my flight suit where most of my personal survival gear is.

Better you expedite… the runway will be closed for maintenance right after the airliner take off…

Ok, OK, no problem, I am ready !

-Sao Gonçalo Tower, bom dia, EC XLL, ready destination Cabo Verde Praia.

+EC XLL bom dia……you don´t have a flight plan….

-Sao Gonçalo, EC XLL, I do have a flight plan for 5 am, It was filed at AIS yesterday afternoon

+EC XLL, your fight plan was filed for a 2 am take off, 0500 Z. You have another flight plan !

-Sao Gonçalo, please call AIS as they have the flight plan, and ask them if they can send the same flight plan for a 0800 Z take off time, 5 am local time

Two minutes were gone, and the Tower told me that it was necessary me to go to AIS in person !

Also I was informed that the runway was about to be closed until 0630 am local…

Easy to imagine how I felt !

At that airport (also at Fox de Iguazu) the flight plan was made by AIS. No writing by myself. The guy ask for the information and insert it in the computer.

+At what time you are taking off tomorrow ?

-At five in the morning…!

That five was very clear: I was charged for the parking fees until 0545 am, local ! I would not be charged until that time, departing at 0200 am !!!

So, the mistake of the AIS guy was not his problem, it was mine !

Then, I was driven to the AIS office, filed a new flight plan for 0630 local, got quite angry, and then, returned to the airplane.

I laid myself on the tarmac, my head over the life vest, and rest until 0615.

Then, I had my parachute on, checked everything and called the tower.

I was cleared for start up and taxi.

All to say that everybody were nice and kind. The Biiig problem of Brasil Aviation are the regulations. In fact, BRasil stands for Big Regulations..:)

Aircraft was full loaded. I knew that no avgas was available at Praia, and that I could get mogas from the local pump station. The problem was to make many trips to that gas station, if if was arriving ¨dry¨ !

Let us forward the throttle to 74%, to fight the headwinds, and arrive the soonest possible !

So I did!

The average ground speed was higher than 140 kts, so almost right, even if my TAS was 170 kts for the last few hours cruise !

And again the HF playing strange things!

I was hardly able to receive the controllers, the coupler was working fine, but they didn´t receive me.

Plan B was prepared, I reported all the time using my Iridium Sat phone.

Then, what was expected, was in front of me !

The convergence zone!

That hour and a half delay was going to pay its toll: the Cumulus Congestus were turning into towering Cbs (Thunderstorms).

And those Cbs didn’t like to stay by themselves. Atlantic is very big and being isolated was no fun at all !

Why not to play with that tiny airplane?

They all agreed and they did!

Flying under those conditions is not fun at all. Not an icing issue, but a turbulence and hail issue, none of them welcome.

It was like entering a Gruyere cheese!

There are plenty of holes in the Gruyere cheese, buuuut, which one would lead me to another one, and then to other ones until free of those ¨bad boys¨!

Usually I point the more compact side of the cloud, its ¨leading edge¨. It is like flying next to a mountain. If you don´t touch it, it is fine !

The fussy side is like the trailing edge, the ¨downwind¨of the clouds.

But something was wrong with my friends !

Wind was from my right, and the fussy side was also on my right !!!!

So finally I decided to point the left side, to get a better ground speed, just 2 or 3 kts !

Those cheese holes were difficult to find. Then, when exiting, there was another cheese, and another one !!!!

Later, Recife informed Dakar about my HF condition. Radio communications failures do happen, sometimes, so it is nice to have alternate way. Better to communicate than not to communicate !

They asked Dakar to provide a telephone number for my position reports. Dakar just denied to provide it !!!!

Recife decided, under the negative attitude of Dakar, to keep going with me and my reports, until reaching Cabo Verde.

Nice guys those of Recife Oceanic !

The Sun was racing down and I was in contact with Praia. I was cleared for a straight in approach, also by nice Controller.

Before sunset, I was able to see the first Cabo Verde island. Then, I turned all my senses into the approach, I do know that I only can relax when the engine stop !


Sunset over the cloudy Atlantic

Or not???

Landing was OK, I am starting to play with two wheels landings instead of full stall ones.

Speed started to decrease, and the tail finally came down.

I tried to take the speed taxiway into my left, but the airplane was reluctant to turn into that direction. Finally, it decided to turn the same side of my full forward left foot.

Brake pedal was non-existent.

Then, I had to turn right in the apron and then, I was unable to turn left again !

-Praia, EC XLL, I have the Marshaller in sight

-I will shut down the engine, as I cannot taxi. Then, I will push the airplane into the Marshaller position ….

The Marshaller was astonished !

Sure that the Tower Controller also!

But both of them did respect my condition. Soon, the Marshaller took her car, and approached me with a big smile. Then, she helped me to pushed the plane into its parking position

I was told about Praia airport people, and I was told good things,

I can really say that they are all wonderful !

Not only that day, but because of all the other days I have stayed there. Police, Maintenance, Operations and Fuel Service.

Would I rate them, It would be 10 over 10 !

I was really tired. I had almost not even had a lunch during the flight. I was also excited, because of the HF and the brakes. My stopover was again, not to be a resting one. It was going to be work and work and work !


skypolarisadmin / Dec 9, 2016 8:07 pm / Reply

Once again you must suffer due to other persons not able to do their own job! They forget their job is to help you, not cause problems.
Good luck fixing the radio and brakes. As you say – never a moments rest!

Carlos Eduardo lavado / Dec 9, 2016 9:15 pm / Reply

Michel a solucionar lo que falta y ya pronto estarás en casa para poder descansar !!! Un abrazo

Juan Manuel Gonzalez Arenal / Dec 10, 2016 12:02 am / Reply

Vaya vuelo Michel, aunque se que a ti no te faltó aguante ni decision, esta claro. Esperemos que el salto a Gando vaya mejor. Descanso, serenidad y llegar a LECU, aunque sea tarde. Allí estaremos si nos lo anuncian.

Javier / Dec 10, 2016 5:30 pm / Reply

Michel a tomado tierra en GCRR a las 16:24 utc

Jorge Camuñas García / Dec 10, 2016 6:29 pm / Reply

Gracias por la información. Tenía el corazón encogido con el “live tracking”. Feliz patrona a los aviadores.

LanzaroteSpotter / Dec 10, 2016 8:18 pm / Reply

16:23 Michel ha tomado tierra en GCRR/ACE.
Desde hacía unas horas, su sistema de seguimiento por satélite no funcionaba. Todo ha ido bien. Ahora, reparando los desperfectos. Saludos desde Lanzarote.
PD: He subido un par de fotos a la cuenta de Facebook LanzaroteSpotter.

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