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  • Writer's pictureMartijn

100% in preparation mode

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Today's post is a little technical but also has a small element of fashion :)

The continuing lock down in Buenos Aires did not prevent us from being in full trip preparation mode last week. Our plan is to leave in 6 months which for some things in life, like vaccinations, is not a long time.

So we met with a travel doctor and got our first set of vaccines: DTP, typhoid fever, rabies and hepatitis A&B. The latter needs 3 doses, the last one 6 months after the first. Luckily both Alex and I already had yellow fever shots - me for a trip to Guinea-Conakry in 1990 and Alex for a trip to India in 2013- else our arms would have been even sorer. The only vaccine we did not get now is for something called "Japanese encephalitis" which apparently is transmitted by a mosquito in Asia. This vaccine is not available in Argentina, which is quite logical because there are probably not very many people traveling to Asia from here. The bad mosquitoes here are the ones that carry "Dengue fever" but although that kills many people each year, it is apparently less dangerous than Japanese encephalitis.

As part of the preparation, we have also been speaking to people who have made round-the-world trips in their own airplanes. First we spoke to a Chilean who "earthrounded" in 2018, then to a couple of Australians who stayed at our house in Buenos Aires early March and last week we had a zoom conference with Barry and Sandra Payne from New Zealand (aka the BAZ flyers) who finished their 6 months tour in November 2019. Our meeting was very pleasant, almost as if we had known each other for years, and they gave us a lot of information and tips. They sent us their in-flight checklists: they had a routine that they performed every 30 minutes to stay alert. The composition of their crew is very much like ours: Barry has been a pilot for many years and Sandra had obtained her pilot license right before the trip.

Another matter for which 6 months is not a long time is that of making the list of all equipment needed for the plane, for safety or comfort, to start looking for the most suitable items and to check their weight. These are items like life rafts (with a roof!), life vests and immersion suits (which you need in case you need to land in cold water).

Below is Sandra in her immersion/survival suit just before crossing from Newfoundland to Greenland. You obviously wear it for the whole trip because if you need it, you won't have time to put it on:) Unfortunately, there are not a lot of choices in color since the intention is of course to be noticed.

And here are the Australians Tamra and Amir in their suits which they had tried out in their swimming pool at home before. Great tip!

To come back to our air-shopping list: once we had agreed on the items, we estimated the weight of each to calculate how much there would be left for our own luggage. In parallel, with Carmen's help, I made the list of my "100 items" (which in fact were more like 80, yeah!), laid them all out on the bed and put them in a travel bag to weigh them. Total was about 15kg, which is OK. Sandra had told us that she had managed to have only 5kg of luggage but I am not such a perfectionist .... Plus, our trip will be longer and cover extreme heat and considerable cold (Greenland/Alaska). To make my list, I started with clothes for heat and added layers for average/cold/very cold temperatures, then added hiking and exercise items and finally personal items like underwear, socks, pajamas etc... This is what it looks like :

The one thing that is missing on the list is a "uniform". All the people we spoke to have recommended wearing something that looks official because it makes all formalities easier. We were also advised to make "crew cards" with our name and that of our "airline" haha). We are thinking of calling it 360 Air (need to make a logo now).

To finish this week of intensive preparation, Alex and I have spent 5 hours this weekend learning basic airplane mechanics: with the help of a specialist, we removed the hood of our LV-GQF and he took us through every pump/alternator/filter/hose and wire; we practiced changing spark plugs and the front tire. The tire was the exercise I preferred: my role was to jump and sit on the plane's tail in order for the front wheel to lift off the ground. Given the plane weighs more than 1000 kilos, this makes me sound very heavy but apparently the lever effect does most of the work, at least I hope so.

Even though I must admit the mechanics class was not uninteresting, I do hope the engine will not show up in my dreams!

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