“Never give up, never, never, never give up” said Winston Churchill.
We’ll it feels as if we’ve been fighting a war today.
It’s too late to really explain all the administrative problems that we’ve run up against. The long and the short of it, however, is that the Mauritians will not allow us to traverse their airspace at all without an HF radio. That means we have to go around, namely through the Seychelles and Mumbai FIR’s.
So we’ve filed a flight plan for Male, Maldives at 6am local time tomorrow (0200Z), the long way around. That’s a 19 hour flight. (Unless we “shave” it a bit and encroach on Mauritius’s precious waters Jean’s the pilot in command, after all, and he has a strong tendency to pull to the right).
Meanwhile there’s no avgas or suitable Mogas at Male, so Jean has managed to buy, beg, borrow and more or less steal 4 plastic containers which together hold 100 liters. They’ll be on the back seat providing the extra range required to make Colombo, Sri Lanka once we obtain the permission we require in order to go there. Right now we’re waiting on it. (Colombo is the only practical place to get fuel for the next leg to Phuket, there being none in the Maldives).
So, in answer to the questions, we’ll have 440 liters of gas in the wings (it’s sadly not 450 liters) and another 100 in the back. It looks like this we burn 21,5 liters per hour and do 200 kph (110 knots) TAS. That means, without allowing for unusable fuel, take-off and landing or any reserve, 20,5 hours endurance on the wing tanks, giving about 4 000 km.
The extra 100 liters gives just less than 5 hours, nearly another 1 000km, or a total, very optimistically, of about 5 000km. Colombo from Reunion, around Mauritian airspace, is 4 680km, so there’s a 320 km margin. Direct through Mauritius airspace it’s about 4 200km, a far better proposition, but not allowed. Anyhow, right now we’re waiting on permission for Colombo in any event. If it comes before 0200Z tomorrow we’ll consider re-filing for Colombo, if not we’ll fly to Male and wait.
Added complications include the fact that we have visas for Reunion which expire at midnight tonight (2 hours!) and that we don’t yet have permission to fly either through Seychelles or Mumbai airspace, though as yet neither seems to have raised a red flag in response to our current flight plan.
If you’re confused by it all, don’t worry, so are we. The Sling 4 is magnificent and makes it possible to change plans when situations require it. But there’s little doubt the hardest part of flying around the world has nothing to do with aircraft, flying, weather or fuel – it has to do with overcoming regulatory constraints.
Meanwhile, hold thumbs and let’s see how we go.
(In answer to the questions, there seems to be a problem with an element of the satellite tracker computer system somewhere the device on ZU-TAF is working perfectly. It looks as if there probably won’t be tracking tomorrow, but we’ll keep trying to get it right and we’ll have it showing on our website as soon as it’s possible to do so.)
More when we get a break.
J and J
UPDATE: The guys have a permit now to fly to Sri Lanka so let’s see how they go … it’s about a 24 hour flight. Two courageous aviators!