What a birthday! Thanks everyone for the good wishes – I’ve never felt so loved before! And what a treat to get to see Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California all passing under the wing in a single day. I love cowboy films and we passed over more than a thousand kilometres of just the stuff I’ve seen in the movies – what a treat.
FIRST IN-FLIGHT ENGINE STOPPAGE
We had quite an interesting moment over Arizona somewhere when our left B tank ran dry – the first time we’ve forgotten to change tanks so far on the trip. We’ve always thought that in that situation the engine would splutter a bit, giving us time to swop tanks, but it just suddenly stopped dead. The prop keeps spinning though, and we were on to it like lynxes. It probably took us less than 3 seconds to get both A tank selectors and fuel pump switched on, and then another 5 seconds for the engine to restart. Of course those 8 seconds feel quite a bit longer though when you’re up there and on your way down!
MEETING MATT AT AGUA DULCE
Our intimidation at flying into LA, some of the world’s busiest airspace, was somewhat lessened by the fact that Matt Liknaitsky agreed to meet us in his Christen Eagle just to north of LA over an airfield called Agua Dulce. He timed it perfectly and it was awesome to see Matt from quite a distance doing massive loops over the field. We had a mid-air meeting and Matt guided us into LA by what he reckons is the simplest route, direct over a narrow “opening” over LA International, where we could see the Boeings arriving and departing in long lines to our left and right (port and starboard, for the sticklers!).
I’ve never been to LA before, and what a way to arrive. Obviously, having flown over much of the city on the way in, we already have a good feel for the place and it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours this morning for Mike and I to have a complete handle on it.
Ha, ha, this place is ENORMOUS, AWESOMELY EXCITING, quite INTIMIDATING and almost like ANOTHER PLANET (especially for platteland boys like me and Mike – who hail from Balogwan and Nylstroom respectively). Anyhow, we’re ensconsed in a little “Motor Motel” just off Venice Beach and we’re sure as hell going to try get a feel for the place asap, once we’ve attended to the important question of breakfast.
TODAY’S PLANS AND THOUGHTS OF HAWAII
Today we’re going to give ZU-TAF an oil-change, put in new plugs, have the prop control motor bracket welded and generally give her a good look-over. Then we’ll spend some time on the beach, explore a bit, look for pretty girls and so on. (Olivier, the girls here in California are generally at least 100 to 150 milliHelens hotter than those in Wisconsin). If the weather looks good and we feel we’ve taken LA by storm, then we’ll head off for Hawaii on Thursday afternoon. If the weather looks iffy or there remain places here we haven’t explored, we’ll head off Friday.
Hawaii’s another of these interesting legs where our endurance matches exactly our expected time of flight in no wind conditions (with more data now I see that in the absence of any wind at all on the Conakry-Belem leg we would actually have run out 25 minutes short!).
And on any weather report we’ll have headwinds for the first 500nm, so we really do have to get it right. Perhaps we will get a chance to really get under the skin of this city after all!
See you laterJames