THE TWO DAY FLIGHT
It’s about 6 hours until we take-off for the Marshall Islands, which incidentally lie on the west side of the international date line. Maui, which is where we are now, is UTC minus 10 hours (ie– Greenwich mean time minus 10 hours). The Marshall Islands are UTC plus 12 hours. Assuming that the flight takes us 22 hours then, and that we take off 16h00 hours local time today (Sunday 9 August 2009), we’ll land at Marshall Islands International two days later at 14h00, on Tuesday 11 August 2009, local time.
(Another thing – although our aircraft range is just less than 26,5 hours, if we were really to nurse her we could maybe just get that in the air. So into a slight headwind to the Marshall Islands, if we were to take off at 23h45 tonight, local time (Sunday 09 August 2009), we could conceivably land there at 00h15 local time, on Wednesday 12 August 09, three days later!
THE 364 DAY YEAR
Then the other thing is, if you go around the world to the west you lose a day, so in my 41st year I’m only going to see the sun rise and set 364, not 365 times. As Jeff, our host here in Hawaii pointed out, the only way to fix that would be go around the world again this year, in the other direction. Hhhmm.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EARTH
Right here at Maui we’re at N20 52 W156 25. So we’re almost directly on the opposite side of the earth from home. In fact I had a look at it, on Google Earth. It turns out that if you look at it exactly we’re precisely opposite what is probably my favourite place in the world – Kubu Island, Botswana, on the Sowa Salt Pan. That makes me feel really good! (And all you people in Johannesburg, if you look down through your feet, that’s where we are).
AUTHORITY IN THE USA
This is an incredibly law abiding nation. Yesterday we popped in at the airfield to do a quick check over the plane. Unfortunately we took no photo id, which is required to get through the gate, onto the tarmac and to our plane. Of course there was absolutely no question who we were – in fact, our photograph, next to our aircraft, was prominent of the cover and page 3 of the daily newspaper for that very day. I offered that as photo id, but it was declined. Then even having gotten hold of the State head of security on the telephone we couldn’t persuade her to make an exception. So the inspection will have to happen just as we leave. Anyhow, I can’t imagine that there’s another nation in the world where we wouldn’t have been able to persuade the person in charge to help us in that position. I suppose whether one thinks that’s a good or bad thing would be very much dependent upon your particular view of things. (See if you can guess mine).
AIR TO AIR COMMS DURING FLIGHT
Since we have only a VHF radio on board our aircraft and are flying at low altitude, we only have communication of any kind with the outside world for the first 40 minutes of each flight and the last, unless we get an airliner overhead on the airline chat frequency. We had a couple of chats over the Pacific, one with an Hawaiian Airlines captain called Vic Spears. I just got an email from him which reads – “Hi guys, I spoke to you guys about 6 hours before you landed. Glad you made it OK. Best of luck the rest of your journey. God speed. Regards, Vic Spears, Hawaiian Airlines flight 10 Captain”. Pretty cool to make an acquaintance like that somewhere over the Pacific, then stay in touch. Usually we get the airliners to relay a message to ATC, and often they want to know what we’re up to. One guy over the Pacific left us with this – “Hey, you guys are definitely the best men among us up here right now. Good luck.” That left us feeling pretty good.
Oh well, Mike and I are off for a bit of a run now, so must sign off. More from Marshall Isles.