Somehow in the last 8 hours my flight plan from Azores to England had gone from a straight flight of around 9.5 hours to a 14-hour European sojourn through Portugal, Spain, France and England.
So being the stubborn fellow that I am, I began ringing around the world to find out who had meddled with my flight plan and why it had been changed. After talking to Brussels, who manage all of Europe’s airspace, I found that they required a waypoint every 50 nautical miles or less… It was a 1500nm flight!
So after trying to argue with a very unhappy Belgian man I decided that my inner donkey would come out and I began plotting 30 latitude and longitude waypoints for the track that I wanted (the shortest one). By now it is 11pm and I was very tired but had made a complete flight plan and was ready to submit it.
So I talked to my Belgian friend who is now bent on not accepting my flight plan. My next step was to find a Portuguese authority to submit my plan on my behalf. I haven’t practised my Portuguese for a while, so this conversation was difficult as his English was also very broken, however after half an hour of latitude and longitudes and then 12 minutes of trying to give him my email address, we got there in the end. 1am, 12.5 hours since the original plan had been submitted, it was time for bed.
Sleeping with my fingers crossed there were no problems I gave into tiredness and put aside that marathon my night had become to get the flight plan submitted.
The next morning I was up and to the airport by 6:20am for a 7am departure. Checking my emails I found that my plan had been accepted, even on the track that I wanted! I was on a high until that came crashing down when I read my supposed departure time: 1am.
So rapid phone calls to two wrong numbers before getting through to my Portuguese friend again, I had a quick discussion about the meaning of 7am. Eventually he read through and found that for some reason he had put a 1am departure with a 6 hour delay at Santa Maria prior to take off. Of course that would be the logical thing to do? *sigh*.
All was back on track and after jumping in the Spirit of the Sunshine Coast I brought the aircraft to life and we roared off toward the motherland: England!
I was looking forward to this trip as it would bring to a close the first half of the journey and I would also get to see some familiar faces again. After getting a new clearance before take off I ended up throwing away the first 10 waypoints and tracking through only two new waypoints prior to entering England’s airspace where I resumed my original flight plan along the million waypoints, which I very quickly established with ATC that I would not be reporting at every single one.
Around 3 hours out from England I began getting diverted around over France and moved to accommodate for other traffic flowing around Europe. Eventually I made it to Biggin Hill and completed what felt like a mammoth challenge to cross the Atlantic.
Now having past both the halfway points for distance and time, I am on the home run. I have really enjoyed my time in England with family unwinding, but I am now feeling rested and ready to continue this world record attempt. Look out Europe here I come.