|Wed 07/28||YPCC - Cocos Islands, Australia / UTC +06:30||FMEE - Reunion Island, Réunion / UTC +04:00|
|Departure||Enroute||Arrival||Distance||Avg. Spd.||Max. Spd.||Max. Alt.||Fuel|
|Estimated||05:00 (-1 22:30Z)||16:12||18:42 (14:42Z)||2,431||259|
|Actual||07:19 (00:49Z)||16:28||21:17 (17:17Z)||2,454||149||189||8,650|
This leg encompasses more than 2,600 miles of distance, which is mostly over water. Traveling a little lower into the southern latitudes, the weather improves one quarter of the way out of the Cocos.
General Weather descriptions are below: 3
|Temperature in Mauritius||Low: 60°F, High: 80°F|
|July Precipitation||1.0 Inch|
|Winds Aloft at 7,000 to 10,000 Feet||From the southeast at 10 KT|
The promised Avgas in Mauritius failed to materialize so we are setup to overfly Mauritius to Réunion Island for fuel. This adds an additional 125 NMs for a total of 2430 NM. Tail wind Gods be with us! Skyplan says landing permits have not been finalized but expect them to be before our proposed 5AM departure for our 18 hour flight.
Permits finalized we report to the airplane for departure. When doing the pre takeoff run up we get a three hundred RPM mag drop on the left magneto. Bad news. We try to run the engine at full power hoping any plug fouling would be cleared up. It didn't.
Back to the hotel for planning. What to do? We decided that a full power run up at high speed taxi down the runway might work. Since we are the only airplane on the island we do one length of the runway to the south and another to the north. The engine ran smoother. We decided to make a takeoff as long as the engine ran smoothly and had sufficient power. The other alternative was to fly mechanic up from Perth on the twice a week flight and get him to solve our problem. Not a pleasant alternative.
With takeoff power down the runway everything normal we continued our take off uneventfully. On to La Réunion. Our HF radio had been working well until we called Mauritius Radio at the FIR boundary. At one of the connectors on the back of the radio sparks and smoke emitted. Ed pulled the connector with fire extinguisher in hand. Thereafter we were incommunicado until in VHF range with Mauritius. Overflying Mauritius was very pretty. Next at St. Denis the airport is located downtown and difficult to find. There were two runways in use, 12 and 14. Our assigned landing runway was 14 and when turning final there were no runway lights on. When reporting on one mile final the runway lights were finally turned on. A little too late. Executed a missed approach and got in the second time. We were met by handlers Réunion Air Services and walked through Customs and Immigration. A cab had been arranged to take us to a hotel some distance from the airport. After a 40 minute drive we arrived at the Novotel Carolia. When asked what the cab fare was the driver said 110 euros. Apparently the already high rates are doubled after 10 PM. What a rip-off. The room rate was 101 Euros. Since we had the HF problem and wanted to be near the airport we checked out the next morning and transferred to the Mercure Creola, much nearer to the airport, and only a twenty Euros cab fare. Our day was spent getting the engine running smoothly and the HF radio repaired. After Jacques Lambert of Helilagon Helicopters made a generous attempt to improve the ignition we had to import a mechanic from the second airport on the island and he addressed the problem straightforward and had the engine running smoothly after cleaning and re-gapping three spark plugs. Meanwhile the avionics man Hugo was attacking the HF problem.
What had happened was the power supply that had reduced the 28 Volt aircraft system to 14 Volts for the HF radio and Satellite phone charger and GPS power had been overloaded and reverted back to 28 Volts burning up the HF radio and possibly the antenna tuner. Hugo had put in a new power supply, which the GPS and satellite phone could use, but the HF radio was unusable.
All this work was done in the General Aviation area where the Aéro-Club Roland Garros prevailed. French is the prominent language on the island and very little English spoken. Our handler Jean-Francois Payet stayed with us all day doing things for us beyond the call of duty. Skyplan, our sponsoring planner has only the best resources. Thank you Skyplan for providing us with Jean-Francois. Of course there were many onlookers from the Aéroclub and it was an opportune place to spread the FOP word and pass out French brochures.