Mike's Log

99-08-31

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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

My son, Gregory, is really starting to enjoy the flying.

Wandering downstairs I found Olivier and Jean on their third cup of coffee and yakking away like crazy in French. We had a traditional continental breakfast of coffee, croissants, baguettes, cheese and laughter.

I am learning to enjoy life more and more as the days pass. This trip is slowly putting life into perspective for me I am enjoying socialising more than before, enjoying the freedom to open my soul to new friends, learning to relax with the slow passing of time no longer do I have to continuously be creative or constantly try to achieve something noteworthy, I no longer push myself to realise my dreams . well, not every second of every day, anyway. I guess when I get home and settle into the rushed lifestyle of Johannesburg, I will revert back to the achievement driven dreamer, which is the old Michael.

Heeyyyyy! Am I a philosopher, or what?

Back to the original plot! After breakfast we took a drive to Jean-Michel's factory, where he makes the DTA trikes. I saw his new trike, the Dynamic. It is very nice, indeed. Also, Jean-Michel has made and test flown a rigid, aluminium wing with ailerons, on his trike. It achieved a speed of 160 km/h, but is a bit heavy, more expensive and is not as easy to transport as a traditional trike wing. He is thinking of making a 3-axis microlight from the wings.

After a typically good French lunch in a country restaurant, we went back to the airfield to pack, refuel and get ready for our flight to Geneva, Switzerland. We didn't know how many people would be waiting for us at Annemasse airport, but we expected a good reception, Geneva being Olivier's home town.

My son, Gregory, is really starting to enjoy the flying. Already, he has learnt how to pack the trike and do certain checks. I wonder if we will have the opportunity during the next three weeks for me to teach him the basics of flying it is many years since I gave any flight instruction at all.

We took off just after 4 pm and after the traditional circle over the airfield to wave goodbye, headed towards Geneva and the Alps. Ahead lay one of the low level military flight corridors, so we climbed like crazy to get above it. This time we saw no jets at all. After an hour I called Geneva over the radio and told them of our route and requested clearance to fly directly over the international airport and the city. No problem . but only because I made sure I didn't mention that we were flying microlights. Microlight aircraft are totally banned in Switzerland probably the only country in the world which has a ban on microlights.

We cleared the Jura Mountains near to the airport and descended to 6,000 ft with the airport ahead of us. We watched a Boeing take off and I tried to judge when it would get to our altitude. I could clearly see that we could fly directly over the centre of the runway without interfering with the airliners. We were given clearance to descend to 5,000 ft and as we passed over the control tower the ATC gave us the OK to descend to 4,000 ft.

Ahead lay the beautiful city of Geneva. The sun shone brightly on Lake Geneva and the long afternoon shadows from the many yachts in the harbour made beautiful shapes and lines on the smooth water. The parks, streets and buildings of the city were incredible to see from above - we were low enough to see well, but not so low as to feel uncomfortable about having no landing spots.

Ahead lay the airport of Annemasse, which is actually in France. After circling and waving to the friends and family below, we landed and taxied to the clubhouse where everyone was waiting for us. Michel Dreifuss and Elvia made a banner, which read "Welcome Olivier and Mike." Olivier's brother, Reynald, made a large map of our route and stuck it up on a board. Martine, Andre and others supplied champagne, wine and food. Olivier's mother and father were the first to greet him. His 15-year-old daughter, Maraline, was there too. For me it was kind of like coming home, too. Many of the wonderful people that I got to know on our '1995 Cape to Cape' trip were there to greet us and celebrate with us again.

After a few hours of socialising, we unpacked and parked both trikes in the club hangar. It was then off to Andre and Martine's house in the mountains, which is going to be our home for a few days while we wait for some visas to be processed. We sat around the dining table eating a Moroccan curry and telling tales of battles with mosquitoes and bureaucrats. Olivier and I have some special stories which we love to relate mostly they are the humorous tales of our exploits.

 


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