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Flight from Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil to Montevideo, Uruguay

27 December 2007

The two young guys working the flight plan desk at Foz were extremely helpful and friendly, and the weather guy was great too. Bad weather would be arriving from the west, but we probably would beat it if we got out in the morning. I had been following the weather via the web, and I had gone to file the flight plan on this Wednesday morning because the weather looked good for Thursday the 27th.

In the flight office we planned a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) route to the Rivera VOR at the Uruguayan border, then IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) along the W15 route from Rivera to the Montevideo VOR. From Montevideo we would pop over to Angel Adami airport, locally called "Melilla". It would be about a 5 hour flight more or less, depending on winds.

I wanted to be sure that a couple of military areas along the route would not be "hot" (active) when we were flying through. I was told that they wrote up the schedules in the evenings, so it was not possible on Wednesday morning to find out whether the areas would be hot on Thursday morning. The best thing would be to call Curitiba Control during the flight, as we got close to the restricted areas, SB(R) 540 and SB(R) 535. I planned a route skirting the outsides of these areas, hoping that we would get approved to fly through them, which would shave a little time off.

The resulting plan, filed for 12:00 zulu (10am local):
1) Flight level 075 to KAMIL, about 40nm
2) DCT 2618S05337W (a point more or less at airport SSDC)
3) DCT 2708S05342W /N130F065 (a point more or less at Itapiranga, switching there to flight level)
4) DCT 2949S05542W (more or less at Alegrete)
5) DCT RVA IFR /N130F060 W15



Meaning:
1) leaving Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, fly at 7500 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL) to a waypoint (east of Foz) called Kamil
2) from Kamil, fly direct to the following coordinates: 26 18' South x 053 37' West
3) from the above point, fly direct to 27 08' S x 053 42' W, descending at this point to 6500 feet (estimated speed stays the same at 130 knots)
4) from the above point, direct to 29 49' S x 055 42' W
5) from the above point, direct to the Rivera VOR, continuing from there under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) at 6000 feet along IFR route Whiskey 15.

Thursday morning, and Foz gave us the nicest weather briefing we have ever received, and put all of the sheets in a neat little folder. Clearing out was a breeze. Paperwork-wise it was much easier to leave Brazil than it was to enter or to extend our stay. I stayed inside to finish up the paperwork and Gregg headed out to fuel the plane. We paid about US$150 for landing and parking at the airport for about a week.

When I get outside I realize Gregg has been waiting for me and has not been able to fuel yet. He wanted to buy fuel from Petrobras, typically cheaper than Shell in Brazil, but the Shell guy had driven over instead, and the two had not been able to communicate. A chat with the Shell guy reveals that the Petrobras truck is not working, and our options are to taxi to Petrobras for fuel or to buy Shell. A quick time check shows that we are down to a 10 minute window to activate the flight plan, so Shell it is.

Gregg starts her up at 10:41 local. She sounds rough to me. We get our clearance and approval to overfly the falls, yeah! We run through the checklist and do the run-up. Everything checks out, just that rough sound that I don't like.

Airborne at 11:05 from runway 14, we have been told to maintain the runway heading until we climb to 5,000 feet and then make a right turn to overfly the falls. I guess our 500 feet-per-minute climbout rate is slower than the tower expected, so the tower clears us to make our right turn just after we reach 4,000 feet. We get a few shots of the falls but there are some misty clouds obscuring the view. After a turn around the falls we turn at 11:16 to head for the first point in the route, KAMIL.

At 11:31 we are 5 nautical miles from KAMIL and running a little bit inside our intended route. We are approved to make a right turn to begin the next leg in the route, and instructed to reset the code on the transponder to 2000 (the VFR code in Brazil).

It is 11:53 and we are skipping along at 163 knots (about 180mph) over ground, about 30 knots faster than we had planned! The wind charts had indicated either a mere 5-10 knot tailwind or a 5 knot crosswind. Our course is 194 degrees magnetic.

At 12:15 we want to know if those military areas are hot. We are having difficulty contacting Curitiba control, but a pilot using callsign "3153" relays our request to Curitiba. I hear the pilot conversing in Portuguese with Control but can not hear Control's response. Pilot talks to us in English. We are cleared to fly direct to Rivera VOR, appears that these areas are not hot today so we can make better time by cutting through. We change course to 216 magnetic.

12:46 local and we are down to a ground speed of 155 knots. Still not so shabby. We cheat a little above 6500 feet due to building clouds and the fact that we were still supposed to be following Visual Flight Rules. The engine still sounds rough and I keep checking the exhaust temps because of the problems in our last few flights. Cylinder #4 remains the hottest one, 80 degrees hotter than the coolest cyliner #1. We are getting 23.5 inches of manifold pressure and the prop is at 2400 revolutions.

Just 66 nautical miles from Rivera at 13:01, we are making 150 knots over ground, and still cheating high on the altitude to avoid clouds. We reach Montevideo control 19 minutes later, and the controller clears us to Flight Level 080 (8,000 feet), a little early for the IFR route but we are happy to have the extra altitude. 8,000 feet puts us neatly between the cloud layers with occasional glimpses of the ground.

At 13:48 we are cleared to fly direct to Angel Adami airport, shaving still more time off our route. About 45 minutes later we have brief radio contact with Durazno approach. They were concerned that we would be flying through their terminal area, but as we have been cleared to Adami, we skirt Durazno, let them know, and go back to Montevideo on frequency 120.5.

It is 15:00 and we are bombing down for our landing. Gregg likes it when the controller asks him to slow down. We switch to 119.2 to talk to approach as we descend through 5500 feet. 15:20 we are down and 3 minutes later turned off and climbing out. We are greeted by the kindest and most welcoming customs and immigration people to date, and one of the neatest looking birds (teru-teru). We find a great spot for the plane next to Gustavo's maintenance hangar and start our Uruguayan adventure.

Foz do Iguacu
Leaving Foz do Iguacu, Brazil

Rincon Lake
Rincon Lake

Rincon Lake
Rincon Lake

Rincon Lake
Rincon Lake

Angel Adami (Melilla)
Angel Adami (Melilla) Airport