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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

A South African flag flying over one of the beachfront houses!

"Good morning, breakfast will be ready in about 20 minutes. Here is your coffee and orange juice." Am I dreaming? Coffee and juice in bed. Scott stood outside the mosquito net, looking at the two of us. The day looked good, the sun already shining brightly. There were only about 10 mosquitoes inside the net . I hoped there were more outside than in!

We headed indoors and had a great breakfast with our new American hosts Sid, Joane, Jim and Scott. They really made us feel at home After a shower, we took the whole family for a short flight around Crystal Beach. Jim ferried me to the garage a few times to fill our loose tanks. Also, the family filled our tanks I've talked about this before it's always appreciated and really helps us. After refuelling, we packed slowly. Joane offered to do some washing for us such luxuries are really appreciated, especially when you are down to your last clean set of underpants and socks and in some instances no socks and just hanging free.

We took our time getting ready, feeling relaxed in the comfortable home environment.

We took off and headed east along the coast. Olivier came over the radio and told me that he had just flown over a South African flag flying over one of the beachfront houses. I turned back and there it was. A whole family came out onto the large balcony/verandah and waved to me. The whole underside of my wing is an elongated version of the South African flag. Some of the family were waving so enthusiastically they nearly fell off the balcony. Well, you made me happy, too!

Ahead of us lay marshlands, swamps and alligators before we were to arrive in New Orleans. Olivier and I had agreed that we would try and land at an ultralight airfield about 100 km before New Orleans, and if the weather was not good, maybe stay the night.

As we approached the 20 km sea crossing and Marsh Island I noticed my oil pressure changing more rapidly than before. It started oscillating between 4.8 and 6.2 bar. Every time it went over 6 bar the numbers would flash and an automatic alarm went off in my head. I throttled back and the oil pressure settled down a bit. Nothing like flashing numbers over the sea and marshlands to get your heart racing a bit.

We flew over the Greenwood area where the airfield was supposed to be, but couldn't decide in whose back garden we were supposed to land. At one place there were some orange balls on the overhead power lines and I assumed that that was the spot, but couldn't be sure because there was no hangar and no aircraft and the space to land was small. We chatted on the radio and decided to go on to the next place. Ahead loomed a huge storm and we both decided to turn around in a hurry.

Olivier selected a large back yard of a house and landed. Before he could stop in time, he hit a ditch and was relaunched into the air.

Dale and Linda owned the property and they invited us to join them for crabs and beer and southern hospitality. After putting the trike wings flat on the lawn, we tucked in to the crabs and beer. Later I walked down the road to meet John who has the ultralight airfield. He makes a living using his Quicksilver by searching for alligator eggs from the air, and then marking their position on his GPS and later sending his wife into the swamps to collect them by boat. Shortly after we met, John looked directly into my eyes and without the hint of a smile said: "I don't know you very well, but let me tell you that Jesus loves you." Well, that put my mind at rest.

Later Dale called his cousin and the whole family went for a night ride through the swamps on his cousin's party swamp boat. The southern (coonass) hospitality and beer flowed.

We slept in the tent to try and keep the mosquito bites on our bodies to an acceptable level.


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