Sunday, December 08, 2013

Cape Town to Goodwood Day 37: No to Libya

With a heavy heart, the Spirit of Artemis team has opted not to follow Mary Heath's route through Libya  to Tunisia  for the short trip across the Mediterranean to Europe.  
"Everything we have heard or read about Libya over the last month has lead us to the conclusion that the situation there seems to be on a dangerous downward spiral," says Annette Porter. 
"Targeted killings, revenge attacks, gun battles and kidnappings are all on the rise. Heavily armed militia, some riding in pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and rocket propelled grenades are active throughout the country."

Obviously the last thing  the team wants to do is to fly into a lawless country on the brink of civil war.

"We abandon Libya with a heavy heart - certain that it is the best decision, but sympathetic to the people who are working on the ground to build a secure future for the nation. "

With the decision ruling out the short 90-mile crossing  to Sicily from Tunis followed by  Mary Heath, the plan now is to fly from Marsa Matruh in Egypt over the Med to Crete - a total of 300 miles. 
"In preparation, Tracey's dug out her life jacket from the locker of the Stearman and we’ve moved the life raft up from the belly of the caravan," says Porter.

To make the crossing safely,  Tracey needs headwinds of no more than 20 knots. Early thunderstorms prohibited taking off this morning, but conditions sound like they may improve tomorrow. So after taking 37 days to cross Africa, the team should be back in Europe tomorrow. We wish them the best possible luck!

From G.A.S.E's Facebook (edited): 
" The Cape Town to Goodwood Flight, consisting of the Boeing Stearman and Cessna Grand Caravan (and 8 crew in total) finally departed October Airport, Cairo today. A hectic morning saw the G.A.S.E. crew pick up the team from the hotel, transport them to and through October Airport security  to Hangar Badran where the aircraft were based. Some polite discussions between us and security allowed the documentary team to film interviews, shots of the aircraft on the ground and the all-important departure of the Stearman.
"Both aircraft had departed by early afternoon for Mersa Matruh on the Mediterranean coast; a change in plans because G.A.S.E. could re-fuel with avgas from bowser at this semi-military airport. This would save the crew handling charges and possibly hotel costs  at El Alamein, which was their original destination. The CT2G gave a special mention to General Badran and his engineer, Alaa, as well as Eddie and Ahmed from G.A.S.E."

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