7 summits by Microlight

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15 Jan 2006, All done
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News release: 25 Dec 2005, Feliz Navidad


 

 

 

 

 

 
That's Happy Christmas to you non-Spanish speakers.

I've been extremely busy in the last week or so, hence the lack of news. Nicky, Alex, Izzy and Hugo all arrived last week in Santiago de Chile from London via Madrid and finally a seven hour bus ride to Mendoza... with no luggage. LAN Chile had left it in Madrid. I thought it a bit risky to believe their promise that they would forward it on to Mendoza, but they did, eventually.

Beto did even better than was originally promised and arranged space in a half-empty hangar at the aeroclub for us. The two aircraft owners, Eduardo and Lolo are the most helpful and kind people, the same can't be said of the hangar owner who keeps his motorhome in there. He seems to be permanently in a rage about something, when he first discovered we were there he barely acknowledged our existence but Beto persuaded him not to actually throw us out so long as we didn't obstruct his crappy old Mercedes van. Fortunately we only saw him twice, but we had to be constantly ready to instantly move all our kit out of the way should he want to go out. Last time he came we actually thought he was going to drive away, we moved all our stuff in a few minutes, he started his thing in a cloud of smoke, drove it backwards and forwards a few metres and then locked it up and shoved off... Many years ago I learnt a Spanish word perfectly describing this chap: Jillypojas. (no idea if the spelling's correct, but it's not a word you'll likely find in the dictionary anyway).

Having extracted my trike from the crate and assembled it, the rest of the time I've been working away at 101 modifications. I modified the trolley to fit his new go-faster control bar (or rather one of Beto's mates did it for me), did lots of little electrical tweaks to radios and things, Beto arranged for Oxygen to be delivered, etc. Etc.

It's generally reckoned to be a 19 day trip to climb Aconcagua. This is a serious mountain, nearly 7000m, and the highest anywhere outside the Himalayas. The normal route is not so much of a climb as a long slog, it's very accessible so lots of people do it, however there are reputedly 60 or 70 frozen bodies up there, mostly people who underestimate the mountain and go up too quickly and then die from one of the altitude related conditions such as cerebral edema.

I was therefore a little surprised to learn that Angelo intended to climb it (with film crew in tow) and be back today or tomorrow; 9 or 10 days.

Almost as soon as they set off though we started getting messages like 'too much wind', 'very poor conditions' Etc. Etc which made it sound like they were unlikely to summit, and were in fact going to be back much earlier than originally suggested. Then we got messages from Plaza de Muelas, the advanced base camp from where you actually start the climb, saying 'perfect conditions, gone paragliding'.

They were back here in Mendoza three or four days ago. I'm still a bit mystified what the purpose of the trip was. I suppose they got a bit of filming done, Angelo has an opportunity to suss out the area a bit, and they found a good emergency landing place which they fixed on a GPS and scraped a big X on the ground.

Nice to know there are alternative landing sites, but unless something really badly goes wrong I can't imagine this will be of much use; our advanced base camp at Desvio Las Leñas is 4 Km vertically and only 19 Km horizontally from Aconcagua summit so as long as I keep high then in the event of an engine failure I should easily be able to glide my Pegasus trike back there. Angelo is of course flying an aircraft with at least a three times better glide than mine.

What with Angelo getting back early and all, we've been doing a few test flights at Aeroclub Mendoza. This has been a useful exercise, mainly because he hasn't actually flown with his torpedo nosecone before.

Our tests a month ago in the FIAT wind tunnel had shown that there was a risk the thing could fog up leaving Angelo in a very little World of his own, and it isn't easy to remove. NelTec came to the rescue here and gave me a couple of prototype electric demisters for motorbike helmets to try. The lexan nosecone itself isn't brilliant optically so I cut a hole to fit the fairly clear demister like a 'bomb aimers' window. This worked great for Angelo in the glide, but because of the different trim position in the flight tests he still couldn't see me much at all on the tow. The Mk 2 attempt therefore uses both windows, the second one underneath the original one for the towing position.

Our preparations are done and we're ready to move up the mountain to our advance base camp at Desvio Las Leñas tomorrow. Everybody else just left for the three hour drive (plus probably two for photo opportunity stops). As it's Christmas day, I've gone on strike for the afternoon and we'll be going there tomorrow. Apparently the weather won't be much good until until later in the week anyway, so we're not holding anything up.

Beto has promised me a flight in his trike this evening which should be interesting. We're now up to five cars and two vans; two more 'special' FIAT's have arrived by plane from Italy (more about these later) so transport is not a problem, 5 of us don't have to squish into my van and Nicky's got a car to drive.

ALPHA emergency parachute
 
 
The FIAT group
 
 
Outdoor sport professionals choose Ferrino to help them meet fresh challenges
 
 
ICARO 2000 Hang Gliding World Champion
 
 
Neltec flexible heaters to keep Angelo's nosecone clear
 
 
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
 
 
Survival Equipment Services Ltd, Suppliers of ELT to the expedition.
 
 
BAILEY AVIATION manufacturers of Paramotors and automotive sport acessories
 
 
P&M AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
PARAMINA; Suppliers of Oxygen equipment to the expedition
 
 
P&M AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
P&M AVIATION; UK dealer for Warp Drive Propellors
 
 
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines
 
 
O-ZEE flight suits.  Suppliers of Bar-mitts to the expedition.
 
 
AV8 Systems video gear
 
 
Gerbings heated clothing
 
 
Alitalia
 
 
FLYCOM Intercom and Radio equipment
 
 
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26 Dec 2005
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