After I dropped David, Janelle and Mark off at Arusha and risked my life (again) on the 1 hour drive back to Moshi, I spent the rest of the day fiddling around with the machine, putting all the video cameras back on (which had been stripped off for the record attempt to save weight), re-setting the propellor pitch as we've always been a bit low on revs and fixing the pilot's microphone which has been a bit intermittent.
I left Noel & Nell's house at 5 to meet Fons at the airport just as it was getting light. He is a big man, but I got him into his flying suit, and just into the co-pilot's helmet; I've never come across anyone with such a big head!
So we were off at seven. Rather a lot of cloud about at low level but we were soon above it to be awarded a spectacular view of the mountain; crystal clear and with a new covering of snow right down to the saddle.
Despite Fon's weight we were clinbing nicely, the prop really does look as if it is set about right at last. When I was towing Angelo, the main tow arrangement goes through the centre of the propellor but on this trip we didn't need that, so sometimes I wonder how much easier things might be with a variable pitch prop, you could then apply exactly the right load onto the engine whatever the height. I know Jan Bem used one for his record - maybe next time (but they're expensive of course...)
At one stage the CHT rose to 111 deg c so I throttled back a bit until we got a bit higher and it soon settled down to just over 100 which is about right. At 825 I thought one of the EGT's was a bit high too, but this went down to 780.
We took the same route as before, North to fly round the windward side of Mawenzi, I circled a couple of times to make sure Moshi wasn't completely disappearing beneath low cloud and to get some nice video shots of the mountain. Fons occasionally made exclamations about the amazing sight.
At 17,000 ft we slowly slid cross-wind towards Kibo, the hut on the saddle was clearly visible, but the main track up to Gilman's point was hidden in the snow, though it was probably more of a dusting than anything serious. The highest point of Kilimanjaro is on the south side of the crater, wheras the main route comes up the the North East side, so most people call it a day at Gilmans rather than walking the fair distance and a few hundred feet of elevation round the crater to the actual summit.
As we approached summit level we did another clockwise turn away from the mountain to then fly over Gilman's around the rim to fly over the actual summit; Fons exclaimed that he could see quite a few people walking slowly up the track to the summit.
For me, this is what I'd come here for; it was a simply beautiful sight, with the craters-within-craters over on the west side. I made sure that this time I got some decent photos.
We lingered all too short a time before it was time to start our descent back to Moshi. Interestingly, despite not reducing throttle, we got quite a lot of sink as we headed away from the mountain, exactly in the area where Mark and Janelle were attempting to continue their climb for the record the other day. Maybe if they had stayed on the windward side of the mountain they would have made it...
Back on the ground, Fons was jumping from foot to foot he was so pleased. Partly it could have been the relief of getting his helmet off, but mainly because he's such a big man I'm not sure he really believed the machine could do it, but it did.
I think Eve is coming on friday, we are using so little oxygen it might be possible to tee from just one bottle which will save 10 Kg which could be enough for me to have a crack at the record on saturday - the scales will reveal all once she arrives....