News: 13 Jul 2010, Mindelo again









The inevitable has happened - yesterday the FIB got a name, two names in fact. You will recall our discussion in Mindelo the other day in front of the cameras when Stéphane proposed the FIB should be named after a bird native to New Caledonia where he comes from, and on the spur of the moment I could only think of "Lilac Breasted Roller" on the basis that at least it is an African bird, it flies, and is quite pretty. I wasn't going to back down and agree to have the FIB named after a rather plain and nearly flightless creature from the other side of the World so we agreed it could have two names.

So Stéphane has done some artwork, and someone produced it on sticky-back plastic and came down to the airport to stick it on the FIB. Of course Stéphane wanted his name to be on the left side, I'm not sure he knew this is traditionally the pilot's side, but actually the graphics wouldn't have worked as well the other way around so I gave in to this. The cameras were watching all the time and Christian tried to get both of us to rise to the idea that a ship with two names might be bad luck. I said I didn't really care and am not superstitious about these things, Stéphane said something similar.

The crowd of children generally agreed my one was prettier.

Before that we'd had to do a bit of fakery to get the scene when we actually arrived here at Ponta do Sol a few days ago. It was too late to film it then, and I was very unenthusiastic about derigging the FIB now and putting it on the truck just to recreate a two second shot. It was therefore agreed that if I put some padding in the wing bag and put it on the truck, it would be filmed in such a way so the viewer just sees the cab with the wing over it as we arrive. Francisco, the Airport superintendent welcomed us just as enthusiastically as he had when we really first arrived, he was terrific, a TV star in the making if ever I saw one. I now understand he's not quite as old as I said previously, but he's certainly over 70 and has a bit of a gammy leg, but there has been some discussion in the last couple of days whether we should offer him a ride. I passed the buck entirely and said I'm sure it would be fine, but it was up to the Director.

I think Antonio asked him in quite a diplomatic way if he did actually want a ride, and he was very keen, so we got him into the machine and I gave him two very gentle circuits over the town. When we landed he was absolutely delighted, and I think Christian was too, it was good TV, and what a nice man, I'm sure the flight must have been one of the highlights of his 28 years in charge of this airport.

All this took some time, and it was overcast again, so it wasn't worth having another go at the valleys.

The day before, Christian wanted to do our 'long interviews', basically a load of questions he can use in the film. He needed a scenic but quiet place so we went up to a German chap's place who I think has been quite helpful with our logistics, though I'm not sure I completely approve of his 19 year old wife whom he married 4 years ago. The road there was even steeper than any we'd been on before. Anyway, it's a nice place but not quite as quiet as had been hoped, frogs, chickens and the neighbours all conspired to have me repeat my answers at least once. I got done but Stéphane hadn't finished his before it got dark so they'll have to have another go with him sometime.

We are rapidly approaching the end of this expedition and now we have to start thinking about getting everything home. I flew this morning from Ponta do Sol to Mindelo, 50 km in 50 minutes. I was actually expecting faster as it is downwind, but for once there was only a light breeze, 6 Knots, at Mindelo airport.

The plan is to take the ferry back to Praia, crate it up and ship it back to me in UK so I can prepare it for the next episode. Unfortunately it seems as though the Tarrafal has broken down in Praia for an indefinite period so I think Carolin is going on a hunt tomorrow to investigate the possibilities of shipping it directly from here. Mindelo and Praia are Cape Verde's largest ports so I don't suppose it will be that difficult.

Joint Aviation Services, suppliers of insurances to the expedition
Micro Avionics - Suppliers of pilot intercom and radio equipment to the expedition
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
Polaris - manufacturer of the FIB
Cam-ARA - Suppliers of video equipment to the expedition
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines