Yoohooo. Ever been to Beau-Vallon, Seychelles? Try it. (And stay in the cottage at “Beau-Vallon Bungalows” at the end of the beach).
Flip, as I get older I get madder – I now can’t really remember which flight was which! It was my intention, once settled in the Seychelles, to complete the little update I’d planned on the KL to Colombo flight. But now that feels like old hat. Actually I can’t really remember the details. (Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept in about 34 hours, and for only 5 hours in the last 60). Then again, I’ve probably slept twice as much as Patrick.
So having been abused in Colombo we sat on the holding point, runway 22, waiting for our clearance. Maldives declined, having failed to receive an application (we’d been told it was flight plan only). So back we taxied to the apron and got Michelle on the phone.
In no time she had the Maldives on the buzzer and minutes later phoned us back. “It’s the weekend there, but the controller got his boss on his cellphone. Please re-file the flight plan with the following words under Remarks – ‘Verbally accepted by Mr Abdullah Hashim’”.
We did that and 15 minutes later we were airborne.
The weather turned out a bunch better than we expected and we flew the 16 hours to Seychelles between 2 500 and 6 500 feet, mostly 2 500. Nice half-moon from sundown to midnight, then darkness, clipping through little, low wet clouds from time to time. Only real hassle was the relentless 33 knot headwind to half way, which had us 150 nm short of destination on projected range for the first 8 hours. Later, throttled back the consumption eased from 23 lph to 16 (effects of a modern, computer controlled fuel injected engine) and everything looked much rosier. The Maldivian Islands passed beneath the wings without drama, just so many more of them than we’d imagined.
Things got even worse than before on the HF radio though. While we could hear Mumbai perfectly for some reason it just wouldn’t broadcast. So we gave Male Andrew’s cellphone number in Joeys and told them he was satellite tracking us and could give position reports on our behalf. So Male control calls and he updates them. Next thing he gets a text msg asking for another update, so he calls the number on Skype. It’s some dude on his mobile in the “Mumbai Radio” office. He thinks he’s got us on the satphone. So Andrew gives him an update each hour, on the hour, by telephone, and everyone’s satisfied.
Ja, it’s a strange world. Turns out that on a trip like this most of the requirements of the authorities serve to delay you, increase night flying hours, limit your flexibility, frustrate you and generally just make things more dangerous. (eg – “Sorry, you need to fly IFR point to point after dark. It’s for your safety. So you must fly minimum 7 000 feet”. Read instead, “You can’t fly low under the CB’s, you have to fly directly through them, at night, without diverting”). The system in the east isn’t really designed for these kinds of trips. In the US and Europe though it’s different.
We did our fourth IFR approach out of four (since I joined) into the Seychelles, just as the sun rose. A great moment. And two hours later here we are on the magnificent Beau-Vallon Beach. From the ridiculous to the sublime.
Patrick’s 90% of the way around the world and I’m reliving some old moments and visiting some new. All things being equal we’ll land Kruger at about 08h30 Friday, pop into Numbi just after and hop across to Tedderfield later in the afternoon.
Hold thumbs for favourable conditions for the last gasp and see you back home.
J and P