The night before a navigation flight to the next location is usually one of little sleep. We pretend to go to bed early but we can´t sleep because we are too anxious. Or try to visualize our next flight into the unknown. Or we are too bothered with the meteorology when we look outside during the night and see cloud cover or trees being moved by wind that wasn’t there before. We can´t drink alcohol because we need to wake up early and be 100% fit. Fabiana even can´t eat breakfast before the flight, and is usually starving after we take off. The flight may progress down wind in still air over friendly and flat terrain with lots of landing options. Or the opposite, fighting against head wind in turbulent air and hostile terrain where you would rather not make a forced landing. And belief me, the experience of open-cockpit microlight flying is totally different than commercial flying.
When we arrive at our destination, we smile and are all happy. The adrenaline usually continues to run through our veins for a while, whereas our mind need some time to actually land. It´s like walking out a cinema, and being intrigued by a movie you just happened to watch. You may need some time to come back to reality. Our reality at the new location is always a surprise, the start of a short and new life.
Down to earth, the reality is we only have 1 life. Lack of planning in aviation can be fatal. Therefore we plan our flights with military precision and we do not count on luck. We say “we want to go” rather than “we have to go”. If the weather is not favorable for our planned flight, we stay on the ground and enjoy another day. If the weather during flight shows a negative trend, we land at first opportunity.
It is easy to think you are on your own while flying in the vast Brazilian airspace. However, it is a false sense of safety. The guys who rammed their business jet into a commercial airplane above the Amazons killing 180 passengers also thought they were alone. We preferably fly low (1000 – 2000 feet Above Ground Level), but there are times we climb to for example 6500 feet in search of smooth air or a tail wind. That´s when we get at general aviation altitudes where big and fast aircraft are flying. There exists a set of interesting flight rules that provides separation between air traffic, however too technical for this somewhat philosophic theme. Anyway, applying these flight rules and reporting our position, altitude and course is another measure that contributes the safety of our flight.
We experience sincere support, enthusiasm and admiration from friends and family and people we meet along the route, which is fantastic. On the contrary, I prefer to deny the thought, but there are probably also souls that silently hope for something to go wrong. Or as Fabiana put it: envy is a very strong “macumba”. We want to complete our journey and live a thousand lives. As such we pray for protection and put our safety in the first place. Amen.