My programme for the day following the receipt of this letter had already been decided: attempt of 2.000km badge, nothing else. Wake up at 3h30 for 12 hours of battle against more of 100 km/h of wind above 1/8 of uncertain fractos ending during the last 500 km by a magnificent blue sky. Since the 2.000 km could not be achieved, better stop at the first out and return of 1.000 km and go working on a new world record triangle.
With Bruce Cooper, we sacrifice the beautiful day of December 23rd to update the data base of the emergency landing strips on the pampa. The following day December 24th, I repeated my attempt of badge 2.000 km solo. The preceding evening, the glider was modified to fly comfortably solo, that is to say removal of the tail lead (14 kg) and installation of the cabin separator (my invention) permitting to have access to all the accessories that are normally the duty of the rear seat: satellite telephone, snack, bible, pee bags, etc…
Wake up again at 3h30 under a light drizzle up to the parking but fortunately not on the runway, just in time to watch John Williams (electric Antares) taking off at 5h30 local. The conditions were again not good enough for me to complete the task, so I decided to quit at the end of the first 1.000 km and 8 hours of a tricky flight. John landed at 9 a.m. and went for a rest.
December 24th, all the members of the expedition are at home for the Christmas Eve party and the excellent Malbec Fond de Cave Reserve 2006 is helping towards the general optimism. We therefore decide to file a FPL for the following day, by fax to Bariloche’s ARO, for this famous world record FAI triangle of 1.621 km, while hoping that the employee on duty at 22h on Christmas eve had something else to think about that to verify the NOTAM 4274. Telephone call at 22h30 and, oh miracle, he confirms that the FPL is approved! John, Bruce and I greet our guests around 23h00 and the alarm clock rings again at 3h30 on Christmas day. Telling you that I slept well would be a lie, same for Bruce. The sky is covered, no star, no moon (bizarre, wasn’t it full yesterday?), the trees do move, is it cool. And the moon? The disk????? let place to a black stain surrounded with a brownish crown, it was the eclipse of the century! But we were too much absorbed by the enormous task that we set and we didn’t give enough attention to it. I especially believe that our brain cells were still in lethargy, helped by the remaining vapours of Malbec.