Natal to Dakar

Natal, Brazil, 17. January 1997. According to the weather office in Recife, both the winds aloft (at FL 180 at least!) and the ITCZ (Inter Tropical convergence Zone) looked OK for a non-stop crossing from Natal to Dakar, Senegal.

'Honey Mooney' is getting all her five fuel tanks filled up.We took off the following morning at 4 am after 2 hours delay due to bureaucratic problems with the ATC clearance.

Natal, Brazil


Honey Mooney in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil Fernando de Noronha, 19 January 97: John (co-pilot Rio - Geneva) is filling up the four 20-litre plastic containers with AVGAS from the wing tanks. We took off for Dakar the following morning at sunrise.

Initially the observed winds aloft at FL110 (11'000 feet) agreed well with the forecast, but after 4:30 hours John and I decided to turn around and go back to Natal. By then the headwind component had increased from 10 to 35 knots, and our calculated fuel reserves had dropped from 3:30 hours to 1:30 hours and were still decreasing! 

The back-up plan consisted of making an 80-litre fuel deposit on the lovely Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, to permit a transatlantic departure from there with the tanks full (15 hours). They have a web page, but there is no AVGAS for sale there! 


About 4 hours after take-off from Fernando de Noronha, we met the famous 'Pot au Noir' (ITCZ, Inter Tropical Convergence Zone); much feared by the early Aeropostale aviators.

This was expected from the weather charts, which John's wife in Geneva faxed to us in Fernando de Noronha since the fax machine in the weather office in Recife was out of service. This front is an almost permanent feature of the South Atlantic. Although this wall of clouds is very impressive, our 'Stormscope' did not paint any activity, and in only 10 minutes we were through!

Facing the ITCZ  Position 04N 026W facing the ITCZ


Aeroclub de Dakar The head-wind at FL90 (9'000 feet) was only slightly less than two days earlier, and we reached Dakar shortly after sunset after 11:06 hours in the air and with 4 hours of fuel left. This was the longest non-stop flight ever for 'Honey Mooney'. 

Next morning we discovered a minor problem with the support bracket for the exhaust pipe. The people we met at the 'Aeroclub de Dakar' were very friendly and helpful.

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  Flemming PEDERSEN, Armand F. PEREIRA and John F. MILES 1997

This Page Last Updated: 24 November 2000