(for the pictures please refer to the portuguese version of this text at http://flyingfab.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_archive.html)
On May 19th, 2006, me Armando Pires and Enio WIlson decided to check-out a North wind day at the Nova Iguaçu ramp. Armando was already badly intended on crossing back to the South Zone of Rio and try and land at the Barra da Tijuca beach.
So it´s 10 am and we are already parked at the gas station trying to figure out whether to climb the steep and muddy road to the ramp on my car or ride the gaiolas, which are amazing little buggies that climb the road to the ramp better than most 4x4 vehicles. We end up riding my Ford Ranger which doesn´t let us down and makes the ramp without much difficulty, I was impressed by the dangerous conditions of the road, (at that time I still didn´t know that I would have a lot of trouble with that road in the future).
The adrenalized advernturers arrive on the ramp, the day is still clear blue.
The wind was strong and sidewise from the left, more Northwesterly than North. North would be the best wind direction to take off from. We decided to wait for a while to see if the wind was gonna hit it more straight, but it didn´t happen.
On the next picture we can see the view from the ramp, overlooking the suburban city of Nova Iguaçu, the smoke on the deck shows Northwest. The bomb-out lading options are at the foot of the hill, If you clear Nova Iguaçu to most directions you fly over nice landing zones. Maybe not very nice neighbourhoods though...
We didin´t take inflight pictures but we basically reached 1600 mts right after takeoff after battling to core a twitchy thermall, and a beautiful and fresh cloud base began forming. We eventually climbed to 1.800 mts and enjoyed the local view without really going anywhere for the first 45 minutes. Then the Rio de Janeiro bunch of older pilots, who we affectionely call the "Dinosaurs", arrived at the ramp and called us on our radios to know what was going on up there. They quickly setup, took off, climbed and briefly joined us before departinto the crossing to Barra. Well we wouldn´t miss this opportunity to learn with those that knew the way so we followed, altough we couldn´t match the glide ratios of their topless (we were flying: my litesport, Armando´s U2 and Enios Old Laminar, all king-posted, I had a slight edge with the Litesport). We found anoter climb over the Gericinó preserve, and were quickly drifting over the Av. Brazil, the vusiest downtown road in Rio and it seemed amazing that I was finally doing the crossing and right over the most hostile landing territory I could count on easy landings far away, because we were high enough and the wind drifting was helping so much. We tried to cross the final approach path over the Campo dos Afonsos military airport, but at the height we were, some 4.500 ft, we were out of the routes. Soon it was time to take options again. The Dinossaurs had gone east maybe trying to reach the São Conrado beach, we were being pushed to the Serra Branca mountains and it looked a good place to search for thermalls.
Flying over the North side of the Pedra Branca, while searching for thermalls can be quite unnerving as there are no landing options to the North and you don´t want to spend too much time there before throwing it over the back towards Barra and the open landing options. Fortunately Armando found a little climb and we guaranteed another 5 hundred feet which already had my Compeo saying that I could get to the CEU Ultralight club.
Below you can see the track log for this flight:
Reaching CEU was already beyond my expectation for that day. I dived into CEU direction with some height to spare and enjoyed very much maneuvering to lose altitude over the grassy landing runways and over the large saltwater lake. Armando was intent on reaching the beach. For that he would need height for another 2 km flying, with the problem that he would have to cross the wall of high rising buildings that front the beach. As I said that I wouldn´t try he eventually gave uop the idea. Later he would moan about it a little bit, because he was a little higher than I was. But all in all I think it was a great decision to land at CEU with all the confort of landing in the 21-03 grass runway, perfectly aligned with the Northerly wind, taxiing to the nice ultralight grassy parking spaces, breaking down in the shade, drinking icy cold coconut water from the bar. What a way to end up a friday afternoon!