After our morning coffee we filed a flight plan to fly
to the secondary airfield at Antofagasta called La Chimba. The weather was OK there ….. a wind of 8 knots from 160 degrees, eight eights cloud at 1,500 ft, 14 degrees C.
It took us an hour and a half to get ready and we were soon in the air.
Somehow, we are never able to get ready in under an
hour. We pack the trikes methodically because of the very real danger of something coming loose in flight and going backwards into the prop. Also, we have a lot of stuff ! (We call it "a lot of sh*t".) If you have a
look at the photographs you will see that Olivier has a very large red bag on his back seat, then a smaller red bag just behind his front, two side saddle bags, and a few other bags tied on here and there in special
places. Also he has two large fuel cans.
I have a large yellow bag on the back seat with a
fuel can strapped onto the top of that. On the sides of my trike are 2 large saddle bags, under both seats I have stuff packed, the whole front of the fairing is packed full of stuff …. I can just find place for my
Whenever we stay overnight somewhere where we are not
entirely happy with the security, we either stay with the trikes or we unpack all the valuables and store them safely or take them with us.
Now you know why it takes us so long to get ready.
Also, we are often a bit slow in the morning anyway.
The flight was fantastic – we were really over the
desert now. The vegetation is more sparse and the stretches of rock and sand larger. We climbed to 5,500 ft and stayed above the low clouds and the turbulence. As the hours passed the vegetation changed to pure
desert – beautifully shaped and often colourful expanses of rocks and sand spread out to our right as far as the eye could see. The deserts are always such beautiful areas to fly over. And in this desert there is no
one at all!
It was way too optimistic to think we would be able
to land, refuel and make it to Antofagasta today. We flew for nearly 5 hours and the distance we covered was 470 km.
We had a slight headwind and as the sun was getting
low over the sea we informed Antofagasta Radar that the party tonight would be in Chanaral – a small fishing and mining town on the coast. We landed on the huge tar runway and were immediately swamped by kids from
the town. The kids were cheerful and cheeky – touching everything and immediately attempting to undo the locks on Olivier's bags. I was given a lift to the petrol station where I filled the fuel cans and bought some
We slept in the open on the tar aircraft parking
area. As usual Olivier provided cuisine to suit a king (well, you know – a king that's on a very tight budget and is stranded in the desert!)
I awoke to a strange noise in the night – a large cat
was dragging our only loaf of bread across the runway. I leaped out of my sleeping bag and gave chase, managing to recover the now sandy bread.