7 summits by Microlight

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2-1

Like yesterday, we were at the airfield in the dark. Luckily there's a few dim lights in the hangar so we could see what we were doing. We'd prepared everything so there should be no searching around for stuff, all our special cold weather clothing was arranged in two barrels and all we had to do was fit the 'removable' bits to the machine.

It was hot getting dressed up, but not as uncomfortable as I recall doing it last time I tried this back in 1986 when we were based at the TPC sugar plantation about ten miles away where it really is boiling hot. With David in the back seat, all videos running, temperatures and pressures good, we took off about an hour after sunrise. It was pretty clear apart from a very distinct 'tablecloth' on the summit of Kibo peak. As a result of our test flight yesterday, We'd fined the prop off a degree to get slightly more revs, and it was pulling 4800 at takeoff and the manifold temperature was at about 30 degrees - yet again the intercooler is proving its worth in a place like this where it's rather warm and we settled into a comfortable 700 ft per minute climb.

We headed north east with Mawenzi on our left to climb up and around to the windward side of the mountain. Kilimanjaro is a very strange peak because although it's high, it doesn't look it. in fact Mark remarked yesterday that from Moshi it doesn't look any higher than something in the lake district, but of course we're taking off at nearly the height of the highest one of them. There was a bit of cloud about but the peak was clear apart from a fairly dramatic 'tablecloth' pouring over the summit.

The machine kept climbing well, around 7,000 ft CHT rose to 110 which is way below the red line but we found to be a bit close to boiling at high altitudes, we found the limit in Nepal to be around 115 but it settled down and by 15,000 ft was down to 100c again. Revs were a bit low, I think we can still fine the prop off a bit, but still going up at around 400 fpm.

Eventually we reached 18,000 ft directly to the windward of the mountain and circled round over the 'saddle' to get the last final bit. The Kibo hut was surrounded by quite a number of tents so there must have been a lot of people on the mountain today, unfortunately I don't suppose they saw much from the summit, and overhead, we didn't see it either, because the huge orographic tablecloth was still stuck there over the entire summit. Thirty eight minutes after takeoff we rose up over it and I throttled back a bit at about 20,500 ft and circled around in perfectly smooth conditions admiring the view. The top of the cloud was a perfectly smooth carpet, pouring rather gracefully off the leeward side down over the ice and snow on the sides of the peak. Ambient temperature was about -12c.

Our excellent video kit was running all the time, but I'm still a bit doubtful about the reliability of digital cameras in cold conditions so I had one of my trusty film cameras on the wing but I won't be able to reproduce any of the stuff we shot on the website until I get home. In the meantime, here's a picture as we were approaching Mawenzi, you can see part of the the main peak at the top left.

After five minutes or so above the summit I carefully throttled back to about 3000 rpm to keep the engine reasonably warm and put in full speed trim to get a descent of around 1000 fpm. Rather frustratingly, I looked back at the mountain when we were about half way down and the mountain had almost completely cleared; had we been up there five or ten minutes later we would have had a nice view into the crater - never mind; we've a week or so yet to have another go at it...

It took a mere 18 minutes to get back down to Moshi, so the whole flight was just one hour, and there was plenty of time to stow everything away and get back to the hotel for a celebratory breakfast.

Micro Avionics - Suppliers of pilot intercom and radio equipment to the expedition
 
 

 
 
Dare2b outdoor clothing - Life is for the living, savour every minute
 
 
Neltec flexible heaters for battery and flight recorder
 
 
ON RISK - Suppliers of insurance to the expedition
 
 
P&M AVIATION manufacturers of fine microlight Aircraft
 
 
P&M AVIATION; UK dealer for Warp Drive Propellors
 
 
PARAMINA; Suppliers of Oxygen equipment to the expedition
 
 
BAILEY AVIATION manufacturers of Paramotors and automotive sport acessories
 
 
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
 
 
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines
 
 
Cam-ARA - Suppliers of video equipment to the expedition
 
 
O-ZEE flight suits.  Suppliers of Bar-mitts to the expedition.
 
 
Gerbings heated clothing
 
 
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Page last reviewed
16 Jan 2008
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