We woke very early ….. 7:30 am (that's early considering
our state the previous evening). Nine of us went to the airport. Olivier and I took all our new friends for a flight, before packing our stuff and after the traditional coffee, we on our way by 2 pm. Somehow it
seemed to take ages to get away from Santiago. Our stop had been very pleasant – we made some good friends and had some great laughs.
The flight started out very well. We routed out over
the glider airfield to the north of the city. There is almost always a haze over the centre of Chile – with the Andes running down the length of Chile the centre somehow has little wind – well, through the haze it
was fantastic to fly right past the centre of this great city. A big place!
The Andes mountains are huge. Aconcagua loomed huge
ahead on our right. All the high peaks had snow on them. A section on my map has the following note " Relief data in this area incomplete – maximum altitude of terrain in this area does not exceed 24,000 ft above
sea level." High, wouldn't you say?
We wandered around the mountains and hills
around Santiago. ATC routed us northwards, away from the approach to the main airport. The transponder on my trike works like a dream. The ATC were able to follow us exactly and to keep us and the large jets
separated. We watched a Boeing at the same height as us turn towards Santiago.
Soon we were past the mountains and the coast
appeared in front of us. We swung northwards and settled down at 4500 ft. A tailwind is always a happy thing for a pilot … we were happy pilots with a tailwind of 20 km/h. After 2 hours we were bombing along at 135
km/h ground speed. There was a bit of cloud under us on the coast – when I hit some sudden turbulence I looked down at the cloud and saw it boiling as it went over the coastal hills. The shadows of the clouds
were racing along the ground at I guessed 60 km/h. Please engine (I do love you, I promise) do not stop now!
The engines purred away.
There was a large break in the clouds and suddenly the wind dropped as if someone had waved a magic wand. We circled over the little town of Tongoy and landed at the little dusty airstrip. Although it was cold we were definitely in the desert.
An extremely hospitable man by the name of Fernando,
helped us secure our trikes and then took us to town where we filled the loose tanks and after buying some groceries, had a great fish meal in a small local restaurant. We walked the 2 km home. We slept on 2 couches
in the small communications room near to the runway.