The weather looked fine for the day’s
flying: high pressure, light winds, blue skies - very unusual for this
part of the world. So instead of spending a night in Punta Arenas as
originally planned, we decided we would just refuel and do the
immigration formalities there and continue straight to Ushuaia.
Before leaving, we drove into Puerto Natales to send the corrected fax
to the Argentine authorities for permission to fly to the Islas Malvinas.
It seemed to go through all right but, on arrival at Punta Arenas after
a smooth 40-minute VFR flight, we got another call from the Argentineans
to say that only half the fax had passed. Fortunately there was a fax
machine at Punta Arenas airport so we didn’t have to go into town to
We had looked forward to overflying Cape Horn on the way to Ushuaia but
the Chileans wouldn’t allow this unless we took a Navy pilot on board,
so we had to give up the idea.
Before refuelling, we asked the fuel guys if they knew whether it was
cheaper to buy fuel in Ushuaia or in Punta Arenas. Somewhat
surprisingly, they admitted that fuel was cheaper in Argentina and
suggested we only purchase enough to get us to Ushuaia with plenty of
reserves. We thanked them for their honesty and went on our way.
The flight to Ushuaia took just one hour but we spent at least double
that at the airport on arrival for customs and immigration formalities.
As for fuel, our flying friends who had been there before us had
refuelled at the aeroclub, so we didn’t really expect to find it at the
airport. And, sure enough, they didn’t have any. The big disappointment
came later when we visited the aeroclub. They were short of fuel
themselves so had nothing to spare for us! We had planned on filling up
all the tanks to fly directly to the Falkland Islands from Ushuaia. We
still had enough fuel to get to the Falklands but not enough to get back
to the mainland afterwards, and we knew the price of fuel in the
Falklands was astronomical. Our best option was to fly north to Rio
Gallegos and fill up there before heading out over the Atlantic,
although this was going to add an hour and a half to the flying time
plus the ground time. Damn! We should have filled up in Punta Arenas
On top of all that, having finally received authorization from the
Argentineans to fly to Islas Malvinas, we had to send yet another fax to
them to request the new routing. Also, we’d learnt that the customs fee
in the Falklands was high during the week, but even higher if one
arrives or departs on a weekend. We were due to arrive on a Monday and
leave on a Saturday – too short a time anyway in view of all the trouble
we’d gone to. So we decided to request an extra 2 days there.
Shortly after take-off from Puerto Natales
On the way to Punta Arenas