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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

It's been almost impossible to wake up early in Argentina...

Olivier woke me up shouting that the f@#king taxi was here . It was 7 am. Olivier is right it's been almost impossible to wake up early in Argentina. Olivier jumped out of the window and gave the taxi driver $5 and told him we would call again in an hour. We had some bread and a cup of coffee. It was pitch dark outside still but the wind was non-existent and the sky completely clear. Olivier phoned the weather office at the airport and the report for the day is light wind and clear sky.

We got to the airport, cleared customs and immigration and were in the air and climbing like crazy by 10:20 am. The mountains, although huge here, are a lot lower than in the north. Many pilots have lost their lives trying to cross the Andes in the north.

We climbed to 10,000 ft and hit a headwind of 30km/h Our airspeed dropped to 70km/h. I descended to 8500 ft below the height of the high peaks and threaded my way around the peaks. Olivier soon descended as well and we made good progress. There was snow on all the high peaks . Even though it's at the end of summer! There was very little turbulence and the flight was great although cold. I suppose the temperature was about minus 3 degrees C. Boy, they are big mountains. We were over the mountains for about 1hr 30 min.

Suddenly in front of us were the plains around Puerto Montt. We descended, talking all the time to ATC. There were low clouds and went below them to find a crosswind of about 30km/h and a lot of turbulence.

After clearing customs and immigration, filling the trikes with Avgas  and filing a flight plan we were on our way again. This time we had a great tailwind. We raced down the Pacific coast at an average of 140km/h. At one stage our ground speed went up to 165km/h. Great, but please no emergency landings.

We covered about 450km most of the time we were at 5,000 ft to escape the turbulence. At one stage we watched 3 jet fighters doing circuits and bombing the beach luckily we were a few km out over the ocean at the time. They didn't even know we were there.

We closed our flight plan over the air with Conception Control and turned onto finals of the little airstrip that we had selected as our overnight stop. Suddenly we had almost no ground speed. The windsock lied . I looked down and saw huge trees bending almost flat in the wind and I realised we were in for a tough landing. The turbulence was wild near to the ground as huge trees surrounded the whole runway.

After we were safely out of the wind behind the only hangar we relaxed and made camp. A few hours later we were on a bus on our way into the little town nearby to find some food and to test-drive some Chilean wine. Gato Negro (black cat) was the wine. Yes please! We ate fish in a tiny restaurant where Samba and other great Chilean music was supplied from an old record player remember them?

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