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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

The last 100 km to Hofn was incredible.

Iceland! We were delighted to have come this far without incident. We chatted about the flight to Iceland. We are amazed at the improved efficiency of our engines. After dropping the needle jet in the carbs by one notch the engines are now as economical as the standard 912 engine .. except we have 20 horsepower more. Nice. It is very comforting to fly for a long time over countryside or the sea where you cannot land (obviously) and not have to worry about running out of fuel. Flying over the sea is stressful enough! We had just passed the halfway mark of the expedition. We have been flying for four and a half months now and covered more than 23,000 km in just about 250 hours. Still going well.

We caught a taxi for the 6 km to the airport. It cost us $16. Expensive place. Packed, had a cup of coffee, checked the weather, managed to get onto the Internet for a while. Fuelled up with Avgas. Avgas here (and in Sweden - on our Cape to Cape expedition) is about 50% less than the price of car fuel.

The young man at the aviation service centre, his nickname is Ring, helped us with all sorts of arrangements. We checked the weather over and over. The weatherman said he wasn't sure we would be able to get through to the south of the island, but we decided we would try. There was one area in the middle of our flight where the weather was apparently bad.

Took off at 3:20 pm. I am taking strain with our slowness in the morning. We climbed over the mountains to the south of Reykjavik. It was cloudy but we were able to keep in the clear air. We were really heading south now.

At the coast we descended to 1000 ft and enjoyed the good weather and being over a beach again. The beaches are all black here from the black volcanic rock that is such a large part of Iceland. Ahead the weather looked bad. We descended to 200 ft to stay out of the cloud and flew through drizzle for an hour. Visibility went down to about 500 metres. There is a tremendous amount of bird life is Iceland and we had to be careful not to have a bird-strike. Some huge and fast seabirds were sometimes very slow in getting out of our way.

About 100 km from Hofn, Olivier called me on the radio to say that he had just flown over a microlight on the black sandy beach near to some amazing cliffs. I turned back towards the beach (I was flying inland about 3 km at the time) to watch him land near to a colourful conventional type of microlight. I was just lining up to land as well when Olivier called me over the radio to say the sand was very soft and that he was stuck and I shouldn't land. I circled overhead for 40 minutes and watched Olivier make three attempts at taking off. The trike just couldn't get up to speed even with air let out of the tyres. Eventually I headed on to Hofn I didn't want them to start some sort of search and rescue operation because we hadn't turned up. Olivier was going to get a tractor to tow him to hard ground, where he would take off and join me in a few hours at Hofn.

The last 100 km to Hofn was incredible. I cruised along at 1,000ft with a lot of cloud cover, but no rain and very little wind. The glaciers coming out of the mountains looked amazing. At one place there is an iceberg pool, where huge black and white icebergs break off the glacier and float in the lake. The large black marks and streaks on the icebergs are from the volcanic ash and ground, through which they slowly move. It was an amazing sight .. apparently it is one of Iceland's favourite tourist attractions. I could see why. There were lots of people camping around the lake.

I landed at Hofn safely. There were a few people waiting for us. The flight had been four and a half hours.

After an hour and a half, Olivier arrived. He had been towed to hard ground and pumped his tyres.

A young trike pilot, Thorbjorn, gave us a lift to a restaurant. Thorbjorn owns a Puma Sprint, which Simon Baker and some friends had left in Iceland after their 1985 Iceland trike and kayak expedition. We ate fish and had a beer and headed back to the airport where we put the tent up to camp for the night. It was cold. Tomorrow will be a big day for us we have decided to fly directly to Scotland not to stop over on the Faeroe Islands. I felt a bit nervous but at the same time loved the challenge. I have come to realise that I must have challenges in my life to make living life to the full feel worthwhile.


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