We say our goodbyes to the lovely Lider ground crew and the kind Elias, who has been a godsend and invaluable to us. I think everyone is rooting for us today as we load up the plane again, one ground guy who speaks no English came up to me and said” Have a safe journey”. I am impressed and say “you speak English? And he replied “last night I learned to say to you!” I am very touched by this sweet gesture and can only lamely say “mucho gracias”.
When I take off and I watch the low voltage light like a hawk, I am not emotionally prepared for this plane to break again today, it has to work otherwise it is going to be like groundhog day only with added stress and very expensive. After fixing my stare for almost an hour on the battery discharge voltage gauge nothing happens, the red light does not come on and the flight is uneventful and goes without a hitch!
In Cayenne we are ready for delays and paperwork fun and games, but surprisingly when we land and ask about being refueled the ground guy said” no problem he should be with you in 10 minutes”. Having heard this one before, we wait 10 minutes and when no one arrives, I suggest to Chris that we do the rest of the formalities such as immigration and flight planning to speed up the long process. We complete immigration and customs, paperwork within five minutes. We then decide to divide tasks (we often do this), I will deal with the refueling guy and Chris will file the flight plan and check the weather, and both go together to pay the landing fees. It was amazing because as we both return to the plane and put our life jackets on Chris points out that the whole process has taken just over thirty minutes. “The norm” for completing the paper work is usually 2-3 hours.
We take off heading toward George town, Guyana; this is where we have planned to refuel at Ogle Airport and night stop. Last time we were at this Airport we met up with Mr. Beard, Trevor, Donald and lovely driver who gave us a little tour around the town. We decide to head for the same hotel as before and have the tasty eggplant curry and mushroom dip that we sampled on the way out. The sky seems very hazing and almost smoky, and when I commented on this to Chris he said that the weather man had said that there had been sand storms in the Sahara which had blown across the Atlantic. This part of the journey seemed to jog along, no problems, no dramas,uneventful. But today uneventful was good, as it meant no red light, no weird sounds, just a smooth un-stressful, pleasant flight. Unfortunately because of the poor visibility, Chris was unable to take many pictures, so we decided we would be better off being high up at 6500 feet with a tailwind rather than low seeing nothing a 1000 feet our normal flying height with a crosswind.
I had been dreading landing at Ogle Airport because despite liking Mr. Beard and the rest of the team who were friendly and nice, it took many hours more than other places to get the paperwork completed. People sat looking at you and shuffled around, and last time we waited for almost an hour before someone told us that we had to go to another part of the airport for fuel. Plus everyone looks to “Mr. Beard” approval or nod before doing anything. If he walks on the ramp to do something we cannot get the paperwork finished until he returns to glance over it! So when we land at Ogle and walk to Customs and Immigration and we somehow complete the paperwork without waiting for Mr. B who we saw as we landed. He soon appears and when we are filling in our landing cards and we talk briefly about our trip. He asks how long we are staying and we explain our family issues and say if we can be fueled quickly we may just carrying on to Grenada. He seemed to understand our situation and to our amazement we were whisked through all of the formalities within an hour. Even the accounts guy let me pay for our fuel with a credit card despite having a broken machine and allowing me to run to the sales office and use their credit card machine.
It seemed strange that despite both of us having been up most of night worrying about the plane, we were still full of energy and ready to go another three hours on to Grenada. I am not sure what was driving Chris, but I know most of my push was thinking of the beautiful Grand Resort Hotel, with its delightful pool area, comfortable beds and waking up to the view of the beach and the sound of the sea! My mind was also saying we would be are nearer to the states and if another thing goes wrong,and we could fly on a commercial plane home. This next leg was a bit mad in some sense as we should have really stopped after 8 hours of flying and had a good night sleep, but neither of us felt tired and I think I was running on adrenalin, thrilled to have made it so far with no glitches. We had a tailwind which was also a bonus and although we both knew this next water crossing was a “big one” neither of us had that fear that we had on the way out. It seems that our bush flying, flying without the” Big brother” radar in most of the countries we had flown, had made us much less freaked out about the open water and more daring in our low flying and buzzing. We both knew that we had to stop being too fearless, as that can lead to overly confident pilots and that is when accidents happen. The waves lapping below us looked inviting as the sea was that lovely iridescent blue that you only see in travel brochures. I am feel pensive as the hours go by, thinking about the journey that Chris and I have nearly completed together and the amazing experience it has been. I believe someone was looking over us on this journey as so many things could have turned out negative"but somehow help appeared at the right moment".I also believe it has made me a better pilot and less nervous of extreme weather, but also helped to enhance my faith in human nature as we have met many people along our journey who have generous and selfless. They have helped us out, and assisted us when we had issues and problems, without wanting anything in return. We have also received many emails telling us that after hearing about two mad pilots doing this trip, and seeing Chris fit and healthy, they have signed up to be donors. Another great thing about this journey is it has restored Chris’s lust for life. I drift off thinking about many things that have happened and Chris and I recall highlights and low parts of the trip. I notice a glow outside the window and Chris tells me that it is a flare stack from an oil rig so we realize that we are just South of Trinidad. The route is smooth and the weather clear, but as we get near to Grenada the air traffic controller tells us that we cannot do a visual landing into Grenada and asks if we have instruments in our plane to do a NDB approach. I wonder why as it is a perfectly clear sky, this seems strange to me on this lovely evening. Spookily as we get closer to the airport we hear a BA flight in front of us with the Speed bird call sign also landing into Grenada. I know Chris feels a twinge of something when hears the BA pilot, I am sure many emotions go on within in him, sadness is probably one of them if he thinks to deeply about the loss of his career with BA as a 747 Captain, but then he did also get a second chance at life and he is now doing this. We listen intensely as the pilot in front lands and then we get a little closer to the airport., I see why she is making airplanes do NDB approaches as the weather directly around the airport is curtains of rain with a slivers of daylight. When Chris makes the approach in I am impressed, I am aware this a skill that only “old school” experienced pilots have, and as we get closer for the last part of the approach I see the weather is not that bad but the light is fading quickly. We hobble into the FBO having completed almost 11 hours and 1200 NM of flying in a single day,all in our little Cessna. Good old "Blue Jay "she got us there in the end!