Dakar - Recife 05.05.2010

"So It was when Mermoz made the first seaplane crossing of the South Atlantic. As the daylight was dying he came into the Doldrums. Moment by moment he watched as the tornadoes tied their tails together before him, as if a wall were taking shape. Then darkness fell, drawing a curtain on this prologue. When he slipped below the clouds an hour later, he entered a fantastical kingdom. Waterspouts stood in apparently motionless ranks like pillars of a temple. On their swollen capitals rested the dark and lowering arch of the storm, but blades of light sliced down through cracks in the arch, and between the pillars the full moon gleamed on the cold stone tiles of the sea. And Mermoz made his way through those empty ruins, banking for four hours from one channel of light to another, circling round those giant pillars with the sea surely surging up inside them, following those flows of moonlight towards the exit from the temple. And this spectacle was so overwhelming that Mermoz, once through the Doldrums, realized that he had not been afraid." St. Exupéry

I am reading again those lines, did I experience the same feeling as Mermoz and the other pioneers did during this flight, certainly the most incredible I had to date. I was not afraid but I had doubts, I had doubts it could be possible to see an end to those 3’000 kilometers of Ocean in those conditions which weren’t extreme but could be if you scale them down to the dimensions and performance of our 2 "moskitos".

15 hours and 30 minutes earlier, relief when we get take off clearance after some "misunderstanding" concerning our HF equipment and night VFR authorization, it’s 0630 we are rolling one after the other on the 3.5 km of runway 36 in Dakar. Aircraft are heavy, temperature high, we manage to climb and maintain 4’000 feet. First few hours are passing; we climb to 5’000 feet to stay on top. Far away we observe a cloud mass developing and few hours later, as Mermoz did 80 years ago, it’s our turn to bank, circle and make our way. We finally exit the Doldrums leaving behind those cloud mass, the calm is back, not for long. We overfly now Fernando de Noronha, a welcoming oasis 2 hours away from Natal. Natal where the visibility has dropped to 2.5 km under rain. Fernando de Noronha is refusing a landing unless we declare an emergency. In front of us more cumulonimbus, night is dropping, our spirit too. We carry on, visibility improves in Natal but we decide that despite the additional 45 minutes flight time it is more reasonable to divert to Recife where the weather is a lot better. Brazilian coast is in sight then the airport ! We land, doubts fly away, only remains a big moment of joy and happiness .

We have crossed the South Atlantic !


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