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Homecoming!  Cascais to Geneva, Switzerland
1 June


Our welcomeparty in Geneva was set for 4 p.m.   We didn't want to be late so we took off from Cascais in good time.  The weather was fine and we even had a tailwind over much of Spain and France.  We didn't want to arrive too early either, so for the first time ever, we actually had to throttle back to lengthen the flight time! With a slight tailwind of 10 knots, we were doing a groundspeed of 150 knots at FL 100 (10'000 feet) with a fuel flow of 6.5 US gallons per hour. These Mooney's are truely amazing, especially with all the speed kits installed.

Even so, we landed 10 minutes early after a 6 hour and 10 minutes flight.  The loop around the world was closed! Our approach path took us right over our house. I was unable to see it as it was just then that Flemming had to pull up the nose to slow the plane down in order to get the landing gear down.

Upon landing we taxied over to Hangar 2 and parked the plane just the other side of the fence from where our friends awaited us.  Ray Sherwood - our Kiwi friend who flew with us for the first three months of the trip as far as New Zealand - was appropriately the first to greet us, with a couple of glasses of bubbly at the ready.

We didn't want to delay meeting up with all our pals on the other side of the fence so we just filled up a couple of trolleys and made our way round there via the general aviation building as fast as our legs would take us.

There were about 60 of us in all, mostly friends from Geneva (many of whom have flown with us on our frequent weekend travels) and fellow pilots who also keep their planes at Cointrin.  Hans Georg Schmid, a Swiss German commercial pilot (ex-Swissair) who built his own Long Eze and broke many records by flying round the world twice within the space of 2 months, drove from Zurich with his wife Sybille to join us.  Bernd Hamacher flew in his Mooney from Germany to meet us and was ready with the camera for our arrival.  Two other Earthrounders at the party were Antoine Gini, who flew a Mooney around the world in a 1992 around the world rally and Bernard Gautier (who flew his Jodel Mousquetaire around also in a 1992 around the world rally). Both these Earthrounders are based in Geneva.

It was our good friends Alya and John Miles who organized the party for us, just as they did on our departure 7 months before.  John (also a pilot) was Flemming's co-pilot on his trip across the Atlantic from Brazil to Senegal in 1997.

Of course, our friends showered us with questions, such as 'What was the most wonderful  place you visited?', 'What was the most frightening moment of the trip?' , 'Are you glad to be back?'  We both felt rather dizzy with euphoria and champagne, and I, for one, cannot be sure my replies made any sense!

Now that I am quietly writing this over a week later, I can say that there were so many wonderful places that I couldn't list them all.  It would be easier to list those places that I wouldn't return to because there aren't many of those. (I won't though, as I wouldn't wish to offend anyone and nowhere was 100% bad).   Perhaps it is easier to list the most beautiful flying experiences such as  the approach to Aqaba, Jordan, with its dramatic mountain scenery; the views of the Himalayas on our steep descent into Kathmandu; Ayers Rock and the Olgas (Australia) bathed in late afternoon sunlight; dramatic (...and turbulent) landing between two mountains at stunningly beautiful Lord Howe Island (between Australia and NZ), the approach to Aitutaki airport (Cook Islands) over the turquoise lagoons and coral reefs, overflying Bora Bora (French Polynesia), and in Venezuela, the approach to Canaima with its waterfalls and the flight to Angel Falls.

As for the most frightening moment of the trip, for me that was 3 hours out from Auckland on our way to Tonga when the landing gear handle came out of its up-lock and slammed up against its down-lock fitting, narrowly missing Flemming's hand, coupled with another worry immediately afterwards when the the low voltage warning light came on and Flemming could see that the alternator was no longer producing any current. 

For Flemming the worst moment was when the plane skidded on the wet grass of Waiheke airstrip (Ray's home base) and barely stopped before the end of the runway after sliding sidewards for the last 100 meters!.  I suppose that was less frightening for me because it all happened so quickly that, by the time there was a moment to reflect on it all, the danger was over.

Are we glad to be back?  We certainly were on arrival with such a wonderful welcome from our friends.  Now, though, as Hans Georg warned us, the anti-climax has set in.  It's back to the tough work routine and there's a feeling of, 'So, what now?'  I wouldn't want to go shooting off somewhere now, but 'Home' doesn't hold the great appeal I'd anticipated perhaps because we're still unpacking boxes.  And when I re-read the Logbook pages I think back longingly to those months of freedom and adventure.

A few statistics:
In just over 7 months we flew the equivalent of 1.6 times the circumference of the Earth, covering 34'600 nautical miles or 64'000 kilometres, and visited 33 countries.



Alya and John Miles and all the friends who welcomed us home

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Our co-pilot as far as New Zealand, Ray Sherwood, comes with champagne for the homecomers
Photo: Bernd Hamacher
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We made it!
Photo: Bernd Hamacher
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Photo: Bernd Hamacher
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Bernd Hamacher (left), a Mooney pilot from Germany who flew in for the event, with Hans Georg Schmid, a record-breaking Earthrounder who drove from Zurich with his wife Sybille (in background)
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Alya Miles who organized the party
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Marc Boillat looks a little confused by the abundance of flowers that our friends gave us
Photo: Jacques Boillat
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Some ex-frequent flyers in Honey Mooney (that is before they had children!)
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From left to right: Yvon Gemmet (who hosted us in Tobago), Jean Dejardin, Christian Monod, Bernard Gautier (Earthrounder) and Catherine Jotterand
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Martine and Michiel Botje with Antoine Gini (an Earthrounder based in Geneva)
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Bertrand Rapp, John Miles, Lasse Norman and Ray Sherwood
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