Never a flying expedition has been so improbable and close to cancellation. I did everything to go to the end, against all odds, strikes, social violence, refusal of insurers: I was abandoned by most of those who had supported the project, including all the French. The support of the pilots of the Olmué club (Club de Planeadores de Valparaiso) was total and unlimited, the club gave me four volunteer “legal pilot-in-command” throughout one month. Thank them, without them we could not have done anything under these extreme conditions. In one month, the S10 flew 91 hours including 21 hours of local engine, plus 12 hours for the ferry flight, without incident.

If the “classic wave” project in the South had to be canceled for lack of third party liability insurance, it was brilliantly replaced with a “tropical wave” part, as extraordinary as it was unexpected.

Calama was a necessary hell given the social situation, but allowed us to identify and resolve all the technical and administrative difficulties; we now have all the elements to establish a real gliding base in San Pedro de Atacama where I have no doubt that the candidates will flock, me first.

The Chileans will have to find a solution to secure the place, by subcontracting to security companies. The Stemme S10 is well suited to these conditions, the S10-VT model would be even better to climb faster from 2,400 m to 5,000 m in 30 km. For classic self-launching gliders, it will be necessary to check the takeoff characteristics at 2,400 m and 30 °C, and how to reach 5,000 m; it will probably be necessary to change the carburetor jets and correct the mixture, no doubt that the manufacturers have a solution. A tug plane would also be welcome for non-powered gliders, the ideal being the Pilatus PC6, there are some available for hire in the country. For ballasting, no need for antifreeze, the communal well is a few hundred meters away.

In November and early December, temperatures are still pleasant and the tourist flow is acceptable, therefore good availability of accommodation and fair prices. After, and especially in January, it can also be another type of hell!

Here, the decor is set to launch glider flying in San Pedro de Atacama, the Chileans loved it, the virus “discovery flight”, opposed to “km only” also spreads around Vitacura (club of Santiago). For Europeans, gliders can be delivered 300 km from San Pedro, in the port of Antofagasta, no need to go to Valparaiso, 1,600 km further south.

Good news for lovers of wide spaces and discoveries!