The morning of our departure from Salvador we were met by the jovial guys from Lider/ Signature, Daniel and Mateus. Although getting through airport security was quick and easy, paying for landing fees was not. Chris and I waited patiently for around one hour because the printer in the office was broken, maybe some of our $200 landing fees could be used to buy a new printer!!! After finally getting our paperwork completed and meeting some delightful flight planning people we were on our way. The flight to Vitoria was uneventful, but due to the poor tailwinds we were really slow at 95 knots (we had hoped to at 100 least ).We found we did not have time to linger taking many pictures along this route as we were on a mission to get to Rio on time. Vitoria had some nice coastland and pretty beaches. The odd mountain jutted out along the way as did pretty waterfalls.
On arriving in Vitoria were greeted by the lovely Carlos and Lara from Lider who had prepared a VIP lounge especially for us which was so sweet! They handed us a great information pack of the area and were disappointed to hear that we were not stopping the night. Taking a look at the pack, and talking to Carlos and Lara it was obvious to Chris I that this would be an ideal stop on our return journey.
Once we were refueled we started to get really excited, we were now on the last part of this route and our little plane would soon be in Rio Janeiro!! Our ground speed even started to increase and instead of creeping up around 95 knots it was now averaging 125 plus. Chris started to brief me on the corridor in which we allowed to fly in and warned me about not going into restricted areas which were close to our route. I started to get really excited but also a little nervous and terrified of making any mistakes in my flying. The traffic controller spoke in broken English directed me at a shot gun speed to ascend and descend, and make certain headings, I found it all a bit intimidating, but it was comforting to have Mr. 747 captain sitting right next to me making sure everything was OK.I glanced at Chris and saw him grinning as he responded confidently in the radio, none of this was daunting to him, in fact he was eating it all up, he was in his element, having fun!! He was busy looking up crucial markers on the map and negotiating our inbound route with the controller so we could fly near Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado. The last 40 minutes into Rio was spectacular, the sky was bright, and clear. We were directed from 2000 feet as we flew around the mountains to 500 fee off shore, we turned the corner and saw the famous Copacabana, and Ipanema beaches. We were directed to climb to 2000 feet, and in our amazement were allowed to circle Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain. Chris got numerous incredible pictures from this viewpoint. This seems to be the best thing that we have ever done in our airplane SO FAR! But although this experience was out of this world, looking out for sightseeing helicopters, dodging the many swooping birds and avoiding busting our altitude clearance was becoming overwhelming for me. I eagerly passed over the controls to Chris as we began our descent to the runway. Exhausted, elated and contented to have finally landed in one piece, we taxied to the tie down area. As we wearily climbed out, we HAD to take the picture of Sugar Loaf Mountain behind our airplane's tail!
To be continued......