7 summits by Microlight

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15 Jan 2006, All done
6 Jan 2006, Highest tow yet
5 Jan 2006, Rivadavia
30 Dec 2005, Summit
25 Dec 2005, Feliz Navidad
15 Dec 2005, We have a convoy
17 Dec 2005, Desvio Las Lenas
14 Dec 2005, We are on our way
10 Dec 2005, The flight from hell
3 Dec 2005, Where we are going
17 Nov 2005, FIAT Wind Tunnel
1 Dec 2005, Kit is away
1 Jan 2005, 3rd place Best of ExplorersWeb 2004 Awards
24 May 2004, Summited Mt Everest
4 Feb 2005, RAeC Awards
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News release: 15 Dec 2005, We have a convoy








It's 1100 Km from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. The first 600 Km or so is ordinary two lane highway, in good shape apart from a 30Km section of dirt road where you have to go round a lake which has flooded the road. We saw some cattle, but mostly it was huge fields of wheat or soya as far as the eye could see, all being farmed in a highly modern manner. I'm told that it is this which keeps the country afloat whenever the Argentine economy crashes, the most recent bout being only three years ago.

We were made to drive in a specific order in our convoy, most un-Italian! Primarily I think this is because every now and again we had to stop for a photo opportunity for FIAT; Our photographers would rush ahead and choose a suitable location where we would have to drive around in a field or make some dust or something until they were satisfied. Of course the locals found it all extraordinary.

I suppose the convoy could also have been in case any of our brand new cars or vans broke down. They weren't taking any chances on this, we had a FIAT Argentina maintenance van with us too.

Pretty much the whole way it is completely flat and the road is dead straight. The map shows one section is straight for 160Km though in fact there were a couple of slight bends in it. A perfect gliding sky, with a huge cloudbase.

Other than Hungary, Argentina is the only country I know of where you have to drive all the time with your lights on. Actually this is a very good thing as on these dead straight roads with a bit of a heat mirage it is really quite difficult to see oncoming traffic when you're trying to overtake one of the hundreds of trucks which were cruising along at half our speed. The other thing which I've never seen before is most trucks and buses are fitted with devices which constantly maintain tyre pressure whilst they're going. Given that nobody takes any notice of speed limits, so closing speeds on two lane highways are very high, and the roads are hot, I suspect these has saved many lives.

For lunch we stopped at a fairly unexciting looking truck stop. In reality it was the most superb Parilla (pronounced Parija), a sort of barbecue grill very common here with great slabs of beef off the barbecue for practically nothing. Vegetarians would struggle to survive in Argentina.

The further west you go the drier it gets and cultivated land gradually gives way to grassland populated with cattle and the odd Gaucho who you occasionally saw trotting along checking a fence or something. Highway 7 turns into a four lane motorway complete with street lights for 250Km through the Pampas of San Juan province, this was such an extraordinary sight (relatively speaking, it is a fairly boring drive) I even worked out it was 4230 street lamps for the whole distance.

After 850 Km we stopped the night in the Gran Hotel de San Juan. My room had that nasty musty spell reminiscent of motels in the USA.

There are three kinds of petrol in Argentine petrol stations: Normal, Super, and Fangio*. The latter I understand is a very good quality 98 octane which will do for my trike if we can't find any Avgas. (Actually my engine doesn't really like avgas as it has a lot of lead in it and all Rotaxes are designed for unleaded, but avgas also has additives to prevent vaporization at high altitudes which is what I need, and I'm told by the chaps at Skydrive that no damage will be done in the relatively short amount of flying time we're planning).

The last 250 Km to Mendoza seemed to take along time, perhaps it was the stops for photo op's which took the time, but we were there early afternoon just as Angelo was completing a press conference.

Angelo had flown to Mendoza so hadn't made the drive. It sounds a bit like the Expedition leader taking advantage, but actually we should have already been here two days ago and he had ministers and things to deal with in Buenos Aires, so theoretically he should have arrived later than us.

Mendoza is an ancient city of more than a million in a desert at the foot of the Andes. What makes it surprising then, is the large trees lining every street. They survive by merit of a network of 500Km of ditches between the pavement and the street which irrigate the trees and make it very pleasant shady place in the 35 deg heat of this time of year.

Tomorrow we plan to go up the mountain to Punta del Inca to look at our takeoff place.

========== * Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentine National hero, three times World F1 champion in the 1950's, a record only beaten recently by Michael Schumacher.

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