We wanted to leave at 4. That was the plan but you know how everything takes longer than you thought it would. The idea was that we would spend a few hours servicing the engine and checking over everything and then we would have time to do stuff like hike up to the Hollywood sign, experience the LA nightlife, skate down the boardwalk on Venice Beach but ….
Hurricane Felicia came into the picture and it looked like we would be killed on the spot by her if we left too late. So we thought about it for a second or two and decided to forego the naughty pleasures of LA and work to get ready to leave at 4 pm Thursday.
4 pm would mean that we would have 4 hours of daylight to settle into the flight before darkness set in … but as the day wore on everything took longer and so the departure was delayed until 8. Gene helped with servicing the engine, Ray brought water, Matt helped with absolutely everything including advise and a flight for both James and I in his Christen Eagle. Chris and Kerry brought us lots of food and drinks and support.
On every flight we swop seats – this time I was the pilot. It was my first night take off in the Sling which didn’t bother me but still I was hyped up and nervous. I was nervous about getting airborne and climbing clear of the buildings at the end of the runway in the darkness, I was nervous of not making it to Hawaii. I was uncertain about our fuel endurance and range. Luckily the evening was cool so the Sling lept into the air and climbed well. We skirted around some Class B airspace and then immediately headed out to sea. In the pale moonlight we could see the cloud banks in front of us which we skimmed over .. and then as the minutes ticked by and we set the engines and prop up for the most economical cruise. James and I were shocked to find the headwind at double what we were expecting.
At first we thought that it was jut local winds but after 7 hours of headwinds of between 10 and 30 knots we started to worry and talked about turning back. And then the winds started to swing and slowly but surely they became tailwinds and their strength increased. For at least half the flight the calculations showed we would not make it. At one point it looked like we would run out of fuel 500 km short of Hawaii. So we gambled a little on the strength of the tailwind increasing like Tim told us it would – you were right Tim … thanks, we were sweating for a while.
The flight went well although exhausting. Still, we are loving the flying, the rush of the difficult flying and endurance, the testing of our skills. James and I are getting on extremely well and we are having a lot of fun even though his luggage is heavier than mine! I have just read all the chat zone messages again – thanks … and especially thanks to all the old friends some of whom I haven’t seen for years.
I haven’t slept yet and am struggling to make sense … more later! Yahoo we are in Hawaii.