22nd July 2009 - Mike & James about to leave from Guinea
Just got off the phone with Mike (18:00 SA Local Time). As you know they were released by the cops and got the camera back. So it was a mad rush to get back to the airfield. The problem with the IndigoSat Satellite Tracking System is still being resolved, and unfortunately we foresee that for a while we might not be able to track the guys visually. Mike & James are on their way to a petrol/gas station quickly as they discovered there is no Avgas, and should be leaving by 19:00 SA Local Time. They would like everybody to know that they are in high spirits and will speak to us soon.
22nd July 2009 - Slight trouble in Conakry
Things turned a bit pear shaped last night after we'd managed to escape a million hustlers and take a walk through the dark Conakry streets to find a restaurant on our own. We ate at a Moroccan place and when I was trying to capture some of the street vibe afterwards, a policeman walked through the view finder. That led to the confiscation of our film camera and three hours of being frogmarched from one military police 'bureaux' to another. That included some very dark and dilapidated buildings, leading to ever smarter and more tastelessly decorated offices as our accusers became more senior (and more ugly and unpleasant). It appears that taking a couple of frames of a random street in which a cop walks past is taken very, very seriously and constitutes an immediate threat to national security.
Anyhow, we were escorted back to the Novotel at after midnight, absolutely totally bushed, and told to return the headquarters "Etats Gendarmerie Militere" or some such crap this morning at 08h30. Mike's alarm went off at 07h00 SA time, rather than local time, so all in all we really haven't had much sleep (about 4 hours, after flying right through two nights out of the last three!), and I imagine we're in for quite a morning. I suppose that this is one way to guarantee we meet some of the worst people in Guinea - we certainly scraped the barrel last night.
If we do get out of this mess in time, we still plan to leave for Belem at 15h00, or as soon as possible thereafter, and we'll do our best to get the satellite tracker working. Assuming we get off, it's going to be a very long night. Without an HF radio we'll likely be totally on our own, without any outside comms, save perhaps to other aircraft, for about 20 of the 25 hours that this flight will take if we have no tail wind.