And the time came: Qubél takes off on Wednesday 20th at 6:40 am

Last Monday 18th, at three o’clock in the afternoon, we finally got the ARC (a worthiness test for planes). Countdown for takeoff had started!

That evening we took the plane to Robledillo’s aeroclub, with the purpose of taking off on Tuesday at noon

We slept at the airdrome in the tent provided by Coleman-Campingaz for this trip. We must say here that, with rain pouring all through the short night, we could confirm the equipment’s full watertightness.

The complexity of pre-flight procedures, stowage of baggage, putting in place the last equipment, placing the logos made by our collaborators and final verifications have taken up the whole morning. We could not have done it without the help of Benito Baldominos and Carlos Morales.

The bad weather on Tuesday, a good forecast on Wednesday early morning and the need to rest after days of intense preparations made us decide to set the day for our takeoff to the Arctic on the dawn of the 20th, eve of the summer solstice. (Haste is not a good travel companion in aviation.)

We are writing this post while we have a wonderful dinner at Meléndez restaurant from Humanes (Guadalajara), toasting with Qubél to the success and good fortune of this magnificent shared adventure.

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Still waiting, refining the route

We are still waiting for the aeronautical authorities. In the meantime, we are refining the route because travel times are shortened.

We rely on David Galván’s help. He is the manager of Antos Gestión de Aeronaves, and he is going to be our technician supporting us in flight planning and aeronautical documentation through the trip.

We have designed the first stages of our journey up to Reykjavik, Iceland. The first stage will take us from Guadalajara Aeroclub, at Robledillo de Mohernando, to Goodwood, a small airport with grass runways in the south of England.

We will overfly Pamplona, Fuenterrabía, Cognac. It is a long flight, so we will schedule a refuelling stop at La Rochelle, near Nantes, to stretch the legs and go through customs before entering British air space.

This first stage will help us confirm fuel consumption after Sinma’s thorough revision of the engine and controls before the trip. This will be essential to determine the most critical routes in the Arctic, as well as at the moment of crossing the North Atlantic. This first stage was actually two days, but if weather permits we will do it in just one day. We need to gain back as much of the time lost in legal procedures as possible.

And again, in these days of re-planning we have access to Michel Gordillo’s experience and advice.

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Breakdown fixed, weighing equipment

The plane in still at Casarrubios. The mechanical problem has been identified for good. Alberto removed the back cylinders and Peter is cleaning the valves and getting rid of carbon deposits (burnishing) so they sit well and we don’t lose compression. By doing so, we will streamline the consumption of fuel and will gain speed. Today the plane will be mechanically ready.

We are dependent on the documentation and approval by the aeronautical authorities to set our departure date.

Today we have been weighing everything we need to take with us on the plane: personal baggage, camping equipment, tools, food and other material. 70 kg in total. Not bad!

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Delay, more preparations and farewell

D-day came and we could not leave. The plane is still at Sinma repair shop due to an untimely lack of compression in two of the cylinders caused by an overheating of the valves. It is in the best possible hands, so it will be in perfect conditions to safely fly us to the Arctic.

On the other hand, as we feared, and in spite of their good will, the lack of staff and work overload experienced by Civil Aviation officers are slowing down the issuing of the necessary certificates for an appropriate dispatch of the plane. Much to our consolation, Michel Gordillo tells us that in his two round-the-world trips he faced last-minute technical and legal contingencies that prevented him from departing on the scheduled date.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. This delay is giving us extra time to thoroughly prepare the trip. Tomorrow we receive an additional 65-liter fuel tank that will allow us a further 2-hour and 200-mile flight range (eg Madrid – Granada). Although not strictly necessary at first, it will come in very handy if unexpected weather changes occur, if we take alternative routes, to have more independence in areas where fuel is scarce and to play with AVGAS prices – very changeable according to the airport, country and zone…

Last Tuesday we had a farewell dinner with the collaborators. Carlos and his wife Estrella’s wine shop filled with good energy, complicity, friendship, good food and good wines. Thank you all for giving the very best of yourselves to make this trip a reality; it’s us who will be physically travelling, but you will also be on board.

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Arranging everything before the departure

The plane is at Sinma, a repair shop owned by Pedro Fernandez located at Casarrubios del Monte, for an in-depth tuning and the renovation of the airworthiness certificate before our journey to the Arctic.

The certificate could delay our departure because, although Civil Aviation authorities fully support us, they are overloaded with work and the staff is reduced.

And in these days of preparations we still need to fulfill our usual work activities and commitments.

Carlos in the field, preparing the vines’ growth, green pruning, removing the weeds that compete with the vine and closely monitoring the vineyard for an ecological preventive treatment of oidium. And in the winery, enthusiastically processing the orders received from Japan, Finland and the USA. Wine tourism is also very active this May…

And me, flying from Madrid to Tenerife and giving piano recitals. On Thursday 24, there was a “Conferconcert” in aid of Solcom, a law practitioners association defending the unfulfilled rights of functionally diverse people (disability) –established in a Convention recently adopted by UN on the matter. It took place at the Rocafort Music Hall (Valencia). Guillermo Fesser (Gomaespuma) and Javier Romañach gave a conference and I contributed with the language of music.

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