Wednesday 1st May, 2002

We leave the Hotel at 2:30 am for the 10.5 hour flight to Caracas. I very much appreciate the help of my pilot friends Schuber and Heverton who have come to help me through the paper war. 

You cannot underestimate the value of a person who will assist in this task.

For example, we arrive at the customs man and his radio does not work to where the aircraft is parked on the other side of the field. We wait for him to get organised. He requires the special clearance paperwork and the General Declaration. I confirm that he wants one Gen Dec only. He is happy so next we go to the airport authority to make the payment. This man want's two Gen Dec's, one signed by the customs and one signed by the police. So we go back to customs and get one more Gen Dec signed and next door to the police for his Gen Dec.

The Airport Authority wants payment in US$ but my US$ are not in good condition and not acceptable so I need to go the money machine. Now I go to the FIS to file the flight plan. I did not give proper notice of my departure so the Met takes a little longer but after 3 hours, I can go to the plane for pre flight.

Even though the people are friendly, it is very hard to communicate if you do not have Portuguese. Without my helpers, I would still be there.  

I am sure that the engine is still running rough. I almost returned to land but decided to give it a bit longer. Maybe I am paranoid now.  

On Final Caracas
On Final Caracas
So I am on my way in marginal weather at FL080. Schuber has advised me to descend and fly beneath the Charlie Bravo's and I will do that if necessary. Again I have 15 kts on the tail. Greg Tom was right with his predictions so far. I have to overfly five countries today. Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela. To this point (over French Guiana) I have seen clouds, clouds and more clouds.  

In Australia, if you fly at 8,000 ft, you won't hit anything. Not so over here. I was disappointed in myself again because ATC had to remind me to climb above the lowest safe altitude. I was cruising at FL100 (10,000 ft) and ATC told me that the minimum FL for that route was FL120. I had been ducking and weaving the Charlie Bravo's all day and managed to keep clear of cloud. ATC said that I could stay at FL100 if in VMC. I elected to climb to FL120. The route had taken me over the flat jungles and coastline of Brazil and the other countries mentioned and often the routes are designated to certain Flight Levels. i.e. FL300 etc for the airlines. I have been ignoring these designations.

As I climbed to FL120, I glimpsed through the cloud, why ATC gave the warning. I had mountains not far below, coming from the sea to over 8000 ft. it would be easy for an inexperienced globe trotter like me, to come to grief in this part of the world.  

Taxi Caracas
Taxi Caracas
I could not find the information I wanted about the airport Gen Francisco Miranda, where I was to land. I queried ATC about this and they advised me that I would not be permitted to land at this place. I asked for an alternate recommendation and they suggested Maiquetia-Simon Bolivar International. I was pleased about this change because I had all of the information.

Approaching at FL120, I wondered how I would descend amongst these high mountains. No sooner, I was vectored to sea and below the cloud for a fabulous view and landing in a very exciting aerodrome. 

Just follow the Boeing on final, he said. And I did. Great stuff.  

I have been taken to a beaut hotel on the beach south of the aerodrome. 

Caracas centre is over the other side of the mountains. It appears a lot of air crew come to this hotel and I managed to gate crash a privately organised BBQ for them. I figured if anyone was entitled to royal air crew treatment, it was me!

Flight time: 9 Hrs 10 Mins
Distance flown:
1,439 NM
Fuel used:
384 litres
Average ground speed:
157.1 kts
Average fuel consumption:
41.9 litres per hour

Where I Planned to Go

Thursday 2nd May, 2002

Firstly, thanks again to all of the messages on the web site, and if I have not responded, I will eventually. And thanks again to Bob Bates for being volunteer web master. Bob is building his new air strip at Ambua, and is a busy man.  

Had a good tour of Caracas and saw the aerodrome I had planned to go to.

I am pleased that it was not allowed as it is in the middle of downtown Caracas between the high mountains. I imagine it could be difficult for first timers.  

Havana International
Havana International

Friday 3rd May, 2002

Today I am travelling first class on my "Caribbean Cruise"

I have had coffee and a vegemite roll, can understand the Air Traffic Controllers and the weather is fine and beaut with the normal 15 kts tail wind. I even think I am relaxed!

Not long ago, I passed overhead the Island of Curacao. Robyn and I stopped here in 1966 on an ocean liner bound for the UK. It is hard to believe I am here again in my own aircraft. I cannot expect better than this.

Beneath is Kingston-Jamaica. This is the best weather day I have had. Still fine and beaut with Sct Cu below. Montego Bay is next and Havana only 3 hours away.

Off to Town
Off to Town
The approach into Havana was great. The controllers first gave me clearance to descend to 4000 ft about 100 NM out. I was still over the sea south of Cuba. It was fine and beaut and I was given a STAR arrival for which I was prepared and advised that I was number 2 for 06, still 30 nm out. Next he said to cancel the STAR and overfly for a VOR/ILS on 06. Then he said I could do whatever I wanted so I just turned left onto base and landed on a huge runway. I was guided to the terminal and met by friendly airport people.

Then they advised that they have no AVGAS. A quick check revealed I had 300 litres on landing so no problem for the next leg to Miami-Florida.

I think Havana will be a fun place. It is drab but clean.


More Old Cars
More Old Cars
There are lots of old motor bikes with side cars, Russian trucks and left over American cars with big tail lights.

The Hotel is huge with marble floors and high ceilings, antique furniture and maids and waiters everywhere, young tourists looking cool with huge cigars. And of course pictures of a young Fidel Castro on every wall. Very classy indeed. I even met my first Aussie tourists since leaving Australia.

Tomorrow I will get out and have a good look.

Flight time: 7 Hrs 26 Mins
Distance flown:
1,172 NM
Fuel used:
330 litres
Average ground speed:
157.7 kts
Average fuel consumption:
44.4 litres per hour

Havana Brew
Havana Brew

Saturday 4th May, 2002

I have had my city tour. This is a great place to visit. Ancient buildings (I think she said 1400's), people just sitting, old cars, my drivers name was Pancho, used a Hotel toilet built in 1838, no paint, great architecture, a real "time warp" The place is a treasure chest of ancient relics and I wish I new more about the history.