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Ferrying a Beech Baron to Brazil

December 14, 2009

Continued from Part Three

More forest than I had ever seen in my life, an endless, mind boggling expanse of verdant green, without road, without clearing, without any sign that man had ever touched it unrolled below me, endless and without feature.

Late afternoon had come and while the shadows some two miles below me had begun lengthening, the weather had kept improving until it was excellent. I began to dare to hope that my arrival at Macapa would be without stress or drama, which meant in VFR weather. Some two hundred miles out I tuned to the approach frequency for the airport and began to listen for other traffic also inbound, but the frequency remained silent. Finally darkness came, suddenly and dramatically as it did in these latitudes, and forty miles out I made a call to the tower as I begin my decent from fourteen thousand feet. I was answered almost immediately and I requested the weather, crossing my fingers and toes and everything else that I could cross. The tower, bless their heart, came back with excellent VFR conditions and soon, over the nose of the Baron I spotted the light of the airport beacon. This pilot's lighthouse of the sky was giving me its encouraging flash of refuge and safety every seven seconds, and I welcomed it like a thirsty man welcomes a cold drink of water.Macapa, Brazil

I was cleared to land while overhead the well-lighted runway and I dropped the gear and approach flaps and did a teardrop entry to final. As the numbers flashed underneath I chopped the power and after almost seven hours in flight the Baron's tires touched the earth of South America and the country of Brazil. I rolled out through the silky night, then taxied back to the lighted ramp area and shut down.

Sitting in the darkened Baron, I listened to the gink and tick of the cooling engines while I gathered my useless charts and straightened the cockpit. As I opened the door the cool night air touched my face, and I reflected that sometimes the better part of a flight was these moments after arrival. That time where the airplane is silent but you are still joined, airplane and pilot still one being and not yet released to become separately man and machine. You sit, feeling the completion of a hard task and the release from the tension that has ridden with you all day. This had been such a flight.

Tonight as always after hours in the air, the first stop is the men's room. But this would not be just another trip to an airport restroom. Tonight I would find out, legend or fact, if water really does drain counter clockwise below the equator. In the rest room I finished my post flight ablutions, pushed the handle on the commode, watched intently and…YES, water really does drain the opposite direction below the equator! I am exultant. It occurs to me, having brought charts of no use for navigation, that without the GPS I would have been reduced to flying south, landing at any airport that I encountered and flushing a commode to find out if I had crossed the equator. Somehow I don't think Juan Tripp did it this way.

And so ended my flight but not my adventure, for there were many exciting things that awaited me in the few days I would spend in Brazil. Meeting the generous and wonderful people that live here, seeing a farm the size of a small country, and being in the middle of busy and crowded Sao Paulo were a few of the things that impressed me, but this is the story of a flight and I won't go into detail about my stay.

During the eight hour trip home in the back of the Delta Jetliner I had a chance to reflect on all I had seen and done since leaving West Virginia. It began to sink in just how far I had traveled in the Baron, both in terms of miles and of adventures experienced, and I felt very grateful to have had this great journey to a new land and for all the memories that I was taking home.

Steve Weaver Aircraft Sales - Route 3 Box 696 - Phillipi, West Virginia - Phone 304-457-4523 - Fax 304-457-4799 For a restorative vacation for both your body and your soul, consider a week on the banks of the unforgettable Tygart River, in the heart of West Virginia. Click for more.

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