Pago Pago To Hilo 

16th July 1998 we experienced delays obtaining a weather briefing for this 2308 nautical mile sector. Today we cross the Inter tropical convergence zone and the International date line. Our initial thoughts were to stay relatively low level to avoid flying in to embedded Thunderstorms. The headwind that yielded a ground speed of 220 knots convinced us to try FL170, still in a headwind but the ground speed of 245 was a better result. Headwinds were forecast at all levels. With diversions required for weather avoidance, we were relieved that the HF radio worked! At approximately 1,000 nm from Hilo, San Francisco Centre started issuing diversions due military exercises. Over 150 additional track miles were added to to the route and the speed record of 233.95 knots reflected that. It was disconcerting looking at the volcano at Hilo off the left wingtip after nine hours over water. Eventually we were cleared direct to Hilo. The great circle speed record was a disappointing 233.95 knots.

The next surprise was no customs on arrival which was our fault for leaving Pago a day early. They had driven to Kona on the other side of the island to clear Julio Iglesias in his G3 Gulfstream. We contacted them by phone to be read the riot act and told we would be fined USD$25,000 if we left our aircraft. When they did turn up, they were impressed the Lancair IV had flown from Pango Pango without a ferry tank. The bladder looking nothing like a fuel tank deflated on the floor. Four hours later, we were cleared to go to our Hotel with a warning not to turn up unannounced again!

© 2017 Gary Burns

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