Ready to leave bright and early from our Rio Gallegos hotel, Juan arrives as promised and kindly drives us to the aero club despite having worked long hours the night before. In arriving at the Rio Chico aero club, we were met by Jose and another club member called Leny. In order to leave for the Falklands/Malvinas we unfortunately have to return to the big airport do some paperwork and then leave. Chris and I had not hardly slept a wink because we have both had been experiencing many mixed emotions I have gone from being totally excited about going to a place that not many people have been to and hoping that we get many people donating/ signing up to be an organ donor, to and being overwhelmed by the scary wind of Patagonia which goes from 15 gusting 25 to 30 gusting 50 and more!!! I know Chris is also going through similar fluctuating emotions, but he tries hard not show his feelings at first, as he is going to visit a place that has been a school boy dream for a long time, and despite ticking off his “bucket list” and realizing that he is in fingertips of reaching Port Stanley, I know he very anxious about the weather conditions and “getting the wind right on the day” as the old sages have warned us. We both share our concerns and agree on procedures and plans (and if things do go wrong for us). We know we if leave with too a strong a head wind we won’t make it to the Island but fall short and take a dip, we know if we don’t make a fast enough ground speed we may find ourselves only part of the way across the 400 miles water crossing and run out of fuel unless we turn around, and if the airplane decides to have a technical problem or a power issue unless, our only alternative route would be to land on water for a ditching.
After loading the plane, completing our pre-take off walk around checks, and donning our lifejackets, we check our borrowed life raft and wave goodbye to our friends at the Rio Chico aero club. With butterflies in my stomach we lift off into the bumpy Patagonia winds. This will be probably the most challenging leg of our journey, with 400 miles of open water over the icy South Atlantic ocean.