Onwards we go after our tanks were topped off. In the extreme heat the journey is not very comfortable for both of us in our little tin can; we are both soaked in sweat and open the window at regular intervals to let fresh air in. We agreed in order to be with our ailing family members, and for me to be in the UK at the end of the month( I have a appointment to have an operation),we must for the next few legs of the trip take a couple of big chunks of flying each day. After our first leg to Anapolis the next after flying for three hours is Gurupi, a tiny little local airport manned by three young smiling refueling men. When we land I jump out of the right hand side of the plane (captain’s seat) and watch all three of them jump out of their skins and giggle. The boldest one approaches me and says” you lady pilot?” I say yes and he giggles and whispers it back to his two buddies, who each giggle and mumble comments to each other. Desperate for the bathroom, I ask one of the young men where they are, and he escorts me to a little extremely neat, well-kept FBO (Fixed Based Operator). In side is an old lady sitting at the desk, she rushes to kiss me and says “you a lady pilot, god bless”. I go to shake her hand but she gives me a hug, and says “boas viagens” or something to this effect which our Brazilian friends have said to us when we have left which I have been taken to mean good/safe flying. I am very comforted and touched by this gesture. I feel it is good karma, and that there will be no more problems with the plane on the rest of the journey although I am still saying a prayer to myself on every take off for “nil technical problems!!”
The weather en-route is not good, storms and bumps along the way seem to be the order of the day and of course a head wind. We both keep our eyes peeled for thunderstorms, and skirt around bad weather most of the day. We did manage have one part of the flight in which the rain stopped and we were able to see an amazing canyon which had surrounding waterfalls cascading down the sides, which in turn joined up to form into small rivers at the base of the canyon. This was the highlight of the flight.
Last stop is Imperatriz; we are stopping at an aero club and meeting a friend of Edimar’s called Alberto who is a doctor and also a pilot. We have been flying for seven hours with two pit stops for fuel; we are both over heated, exhausted, and cranky with each other. Chris has been talking to approach for a while and although it is an uncontrolled airport we both were waiting for a clearance for landing and then realized at the last moment this was not required. I came in to land faster than usual, and bounced and floated, but I got us in safely but it was not a pretty landing. When we land Alberto is waiting for us, with a gaggle of pilots. He and his friends make jokes and laugh at the lady pilot doing a “very bad landing, just as we expected!!” Usually I would be laughing at myself with them, but I felt a little hurt that complete strangers felt it was OK to make fun of me, I am a good pilot, and my landings are usually good the one time I screw up I have a group of “old school men” belittle me. I felt a little better when young pilot called Savio who spoke English noticed I was slighted and said” these guys are hard on all the pilots if they make a bad landing, don’t worry. Both exhausted Chris and I went through the paperwork drama, as usual but were told we could pay for our landing fees tomorrow with cash or credit no problem.
That night Alberto continued with the Brazilian hospitality and took his children, Savio and Chris and I out to dinner. He also kindly picked us up in the morning with his son and took us to the airport. We tried to get local money out of the machine but it is broken, so when we try to pay our landing fees with credit card and that is also broken. The airport tariff man insists we pay with USA dollars only, but we have kept this aside for paying our refueling as they won’t take credit cards. It all gets frustrating, and after a long heated debate we have to give up our precious dollars to pay for the rip off landing fee. We say goodbye and wave to Alberto and his son, as we taxi to the end of the runway, we look at the console and realize the suction gauge for the vacuum pump is acting strangely, it is vibrating and jumping. Oh no not again, another problem with this b....y plane, I think!!We do another long run up (a double check of instruments) with the plane and the vibrating stops. We agree that any issues after take-off and we are coming right back. I will let Chris do this one, I think to myself, I don’t want to have to deal with an emergency, let the expert be PIC!!
So off we go, after an hour no lights come on, no weird sounds, no vibrating, no problems, we are on our way to Belem the last port in Brazil for us to stop.