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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

Delighted to have made the north Atlantic without a single problem!

Up early. Packed, checked the weather, refuelled, filed a flight plan, checked our machines carefully, cleared customs and immigration with the police. I checked the weather carefully. Tailwind of 5 to 20 knots. Some low cloud and fog over the sea, a few rain showers, in Stornoway on the Island of Lewis, Scotland - wind 15 to 25 knots, some cloud cover, maybe some rain. I called the airport in Scotland they confirmed the weather. A local pilot brought in some satellite photos and a weather report that he had printed from the Internet.

We took off at 9:06 am and headed straight out to sea. I felt calm and confident. Olivier confirmed he was also feeling good. Within 30 minutes the land dissappeared behind us. I had so much clothing on that I couldn't really turn around anyway. We flew through some very light drizzle. Ahead we could see sunshine and less clouds.

We both started to get cold very quickly. I tried to drink some water from my softpack water bottle, but it had already frozen. No wonder I was cold. My toes and fingers hurt terribly. I sat on one hand after the other and moved the control bar backwards and forwards now and then to give me exercise to get my heart rate up and to try and create some warmth. It worked for a while, but I had to keep my helmet visor open to prevent it from misting up.

We flew most of the way at between 5,500 ft and 7,000 ft, trying to stay as low as possible above the clouds, but also wanting to catch the best tailwind. Our speed varied from 55 to 70 knots.

The air traffic controller had told me when I had phoned from Iceland, that the airport closed at 16h30 Zulu. We increased our speed the last 3 hours to get in on time.

As the hours ticked slowly by, I continuously did little calculations to check distances, fuel burn, and timing. Every hour we were able to relay a position report to first, Iceland Radio, and then at 61 degrees N and 10 degrees W, to Scottish Control. In the middle of the ocean, we had to relay messages via overflying airliners. Near to the coast of Scotland, we descended to below the clouds and I shouted with joy and relief to myself as we came within gliding distance of the coast. It was our longest flight over water over 800 km.

The turbulence and wind over the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides didn't worry us in the least. Landed at Stornoway airport after 6 hours and 20 minutes in the air. We were cold but delighted to have made the north Atlantic without a single problem.

Put the wings down and headed straight to a pub and a hotel. The Crown Inn was our choice. We drank a bottle of South African wine. In UK Pounds the prices are reasonably cheap, but I dare not calculate it back into SA Rand .

We were exhausted asleep by 10 pm. Happy!


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