The Trip Soaring Links
The Pilots Latest Adventure


Pisco Sour

1 cup Pisco
4 teaspoons sugar
Juice of 2 lemons or limes
1 egg white
Crushed ice
Lemon or lime slices for garnish
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
Serve in 4 ounce cocktail glasses with a slice of lemon
or lime and sugar on the rim.
Yield: 4 servings

UPDATE MARCH 21st 2003

It would appear that the greatest things learned from the magnificent trip might include the following:

  1. We live in a truly beautiful world.
  2. Wherever you go regardless of country, local folks are friendly, helpful, trustworthy and wonderful.
  3. To soar from Point Barrow Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, it is best to be a flappy bird (with motor capabilities) instead of an obligatory soarer.
  4. To find the absolute best soaring, it is a good idea to have lots more time and to position yourself in one place to reap full benefits.
  5. The country of Columbia is not nearly as scary as the papers would lead one to believe.
  6. The Stemme S10VT can fly from Alaska to Argentina and back with only ONE float in the carburetor!!
  7. Spanish is an immensely important language to master.
  8. Always carry a wee bottle of Clorox with you so you can keep things clean.
  9. It’s good to be home!!
  10. And these last two things just need repeating---We live in a truly beautiful world with wonderful people.

Welcome home dinner plans
In an effort to gather as many folks as possible to celebrate the homecoming of the Stemme et al. I’ve canceled plans for tonight and am testing the waters for another date — either next Sunday afternoon March 30th ( in Sacramento 1441 Folsom Ave at Momma’s) Perhaps that might work for more folks on their way to and from the mountains. And by that time perhaps Thierry and his helpers can put together a slide show and some video clips too!
Let me know if that date works and I’ll go from there.
Thanks heaps.


MARCH 19th, 2003

Thierry and Al just called from Bishop, California where it is a beautiful day with lovely sunshine to welcome our fearless duo home. Thierry plans to drop Al off in Carson City and then head over the Sierras to touch down in Oakland round 5 or 6 tonight. Yeehoo!!!!!!
Stay tuned.

MARCH 19th, 2003

Thierry and Al just called from Bishop, California where it is a beautiful day with lovely sunshine to welcome our fearless duo home. Thierry plans to drop Al off in
Carson City and then head over the Sierras to touch down in Oakland round 5 or 6 tonight. Yeehoo!!!!!!
Stay tuned.

MARCH 18th 2003

Just heard from Thierry. The new carb. arrived via FED-EX and they are installing it as I type. Unfortunately the headwinds are warring today—blowing 40 knots both in Tucson and in Las Vegas where they’re plan to refuel. So until those gales subside, our boys will remain grounded in Arizona until further notice.
Pencil in the welcome home dinner party for this Friday night--wind allowing. Will keep you updated. All the best.

MARCH 16 2003

Back in the U.S. of A!!!! Thierry and Al touched down in Tucson yesterday and will be spending today going through the Stemme with Rick Wright. Looks like St. Pat’s or the following day will be the big welcome home in Carson City, NV for Al and Oakland, CA for Thierry. Yeeehoo!! Three very big cheers to a job well-done.! What an accomplishment. Brings tears to me eyes just thinkin’ bout it.

Stay tuned since we’ll be posting pictures and flight tracks as soon as we get them downloaded from Thierry’s laptop. Hip hip hoooray! All your good thoughts and
support paid off.

MARCH 14 2003

Just got a call from Thierry. The team is in Los Mochis and plan to hit Tucson tomorrow!! Amazing! They made the front page of the paper in Los Mochis- check out: They had to do some maintenance--took the carburetor apart and found some goop inside. Took a bunch of other things apart, put em back together and presto chango, the engine’s now running like a champ—revving up to the right rpms, manifold pressure and ready to go. They really haven’t any idea what they actually did to get it working but whatever it was, it worked! Yeehoo!

Thierry related some of the harrowing experiences they’ve had while traversing Mexico. First when they took off from Oaxaca a couple days ago the Stemme just wasn’t climbing. Turns out the landing gear light said the wheels were up when in fact they weren’t. They landed in Morelia, fueled up and then flew onto Los Mochis. This particular section of the trip provided some great soaring but was also the absolute roughest four hours the dynamic duo have experienced during the entire trip! About 200 miles south of Los Mochis, they encountered some marine air that was instantly silky smooth all the way to the airport.

So it looks like Monday or Tuesday our fearless pilots will be in Carson City and then Oakland!!!!!!!

MARCH 13 2003
Hi All,
Just heard a bit from Thierry and Al about their rough take off from San Jose, Costa Rica. (Sorry this update's a bit out of order but I wanted to let you know what they weathered in order to reach Mexico.) The wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots-- but luckily only 20 degrees from straight down the runway. They received permission to unfold their wings at the intersection of the runway and taxiway Charlie. But the taxiways and runways are pretty close and they almost flipped when a commercial airliner took off close by. On take-off the jetliner caused such commotion that Al had to fiercely hold the right wing tip just to keep the whole kit and kaboodle from crumpling over. At last the Stemme was cleared to go. But on the take off roll, they only developed 4200rpm instead of 5200. It was a fielder's choice as to abort or continue but with a gust they were cast up into the air and it seemed better to continue. The engine finally came to life and they made it into Mexico.

Yikes! I think that Stemme steed is looking forward to some downtime in the
Oakland barn as well as the pilots.

MARCH 13th 2003

Just heard from Thierry. The team is stuck in Los Mochis, Mexico. The engine failed on take off. OUCH! Thierry has contacted the research group at Rotax and Rick Wrightin Tucson. They have some ideas that they'll try tomorrow. Terry Honikman , a Stemme owner that Thierry knows, was very helpful in giving Nina the phone no. of the Rotax group.
Not so far from home now! Counting the days till we can welcome them

MARCH 10th 2003

Thierry and Al are in Guatemala City tonight and they plan to fly to Oaxaca tomorrow-- hopefully even go as far as Guadalajara.

They had a great time in gorgeous Costa Rica. Our Monterey friend, Erik Erickson, picked up the team at the airport and took them to his family's ranch-- 5000 feet up, overlooking the pretty city of San Jose. Great view! The ranch/farm is an expermental effort that Erik's step father, Jack, has established. They raise everything organically and are advising the locals on the technology. Onions are planted next to artichokes to ward off bugs and all sorts of other beneficial combinations of plantings are made to eliminate any need for herbicides and pesticides.

Apparently, they are expanding into the export market in the US and Europe. All of their farm animals are well-loved pets and will face nothing more harsh than pastoral retirement and old age. Not a single one will ever see the inside of a slaughterhouse. Some members of this lucky menagerie include a rescue dog, an orphaned spider monkey, four pot-bellied pigs, a coati named Tony, a resident capuchin monkey named Charlotte, numerous tame deer, goats ,horses, and cows.

Coati spider monkey Capuchin

Jack treated the team to a dinner of enlightening conversation, hearty Costa Rican specialties and an interesting selection of Chilian wines (Jack's quite the vino connoisseur, having spent quite a bit of time in Northern California.) Turns out he chose to live in Costa Rica because they had no military. Erik's mum, Brigette, has made a hobby of studying geese--and is particularly impressed by some species that can reach altitudes higher than 27,000 feet! For an interesting account of high-flying birdies check out:

MARCH 9th 2003

Thierry and Al spent last night in San Jose, Costa Rica. The airport officials informed them this morning that no aircraft under 12,000 pounds are allowed to land at Juan Santa Maria airport in San Jose and that they would have to relocate the feather-weight Stemme to Tobias Bolanos airport in another part of town. Unfortunately that airport’s runway is only 3281 feet by 60 feet—a tight squeeze for our 75 feet wing-spanned birdship. So after some haggling, the officials agreed to let the glider stay put until tomorrow.

The plan is to fuel and then fly to Aurora airport in Guatemala city tomorrow morning.
The airport in San Jose has some interesting aircraft housed there— a C5A and some wild NASA airship—maybe an old converted Canberra—perhaps for some high altitude work. In town, it appears that Costa Rica’s crawling with Americans and surfers. Fortunately, Erik Erikson, a friend from Monterey. CA and part time resident of San Jose, is going to tour Thierry and All around the city today.

MARCH 8th PM 2003

Just got a call from Thierry. The twosome’s in San Jose Costa Rica tonight! My, they travel fast. Turns out they weren’t sniffed out by the drug pooches in Cali but got a sniffing upon landing in Panama to fuel. At that point, the inspectors brought over a sweet 10 year old black lab and hoisted him up into the Stemme cockpit. Wearily, the ol’ lab moseyed around the seats, sniffed here, sniffed there and managed to survive the rather close proximity to their stinky laundry section. Thierry admits that as soon as he gets home he plans on incinerating his clothes. Tomorrow, Thierry and Al plan to get permission to cross over Nicaragua so they can hopefully aim for a landing in Honduras on Monday. Most the flight today was over water and they were once again confined to the airways—not allowed to do much exploring. The plug on the IPAC broke unfortunately. They’re getting ever closer and closer to home!

MARCH 8th 2003

Our tireless pilots were up at 6:00AM this morn-- having been told that the Stemme had to pass the dog sniff test before departure to Panama. The prospect of this inspection has the boys more than a bit worried. Aiyyee, what's to ensure the health of man's best friend when that pauvre perro encounters their dirty laundry!! I don't envy that dutiful beastie.

MARCH 7th PM 2003

Just got a quick note from Thierry. They are now in Cali. Strange as it may seem, being in Columbia seems more like home for our fearless flying friends, than some of the other countries. In Peru, the fees for landing ,use of airspace, parking and customs amounted to $310. In Ecuador $187. In Columbia only $37. Bargain.

They're sad they couldn't land in Quito as it looked lovely from 17000 ft. Something for another trip I guess. They expect to be in Panama tomorrow and with luck, end up in San Jose Costa Rica that same day or the next.

They did find some good lift between Quito and Cali near the Ecuador/Columbia border at a place called Ipiales. But here is the best part of all. Thierry sends his love to all and says that they're beginning to look forward to getting home!!! Yippeee!! It's almost time to start planning the welcome home party.

MARCH 6 2003

The team is waiting for a response from Colonel Luis German Paez Huerta, the gate keeper for Columbia. They sent a fax last night with their request to go to Cali but no response so far. It’s 10:30 AM and they’ve just learned that the good Colonel isn’t expected in his office in Bogata until 3:00 pm.
The weather right now doesn’t look too encouraging, but that is only a local look. More later.

MARCH 5th 2003

Well the Stemme team is just south of the Ecuador in Guayaquil tonight. They had planned to go to Quito but those mean ol air traffic controllers in Peru wouldn’t let them change their flight plan. Turns out that flying in Peru has been an overall disappointment. The officials keep you on the airways and don’ t let you deviate at all—so any chance of trying to find good soaring is pretty much thwarted before you even take off from the ground. Ugh! The big learning experience for the Stemme team has been that if you want to soar down here you should just park yourself in one place and get to know the locals. Once they are familiar with your agenda then soaring is a possibility but until then, don’t count on it. Interestingly enough that’s what a lot of the soaring birds do too. Perhaps for those large soaring birds who depend on that natural power in order to stay aloft, remaining in one place where they can reliably find lift is much safer than going and looking for it far and abroad. Sad that in the case of our dynamic duo, politics seems to be getting in the way of adventure and exploration.

Another interesting point is that up here the countercurrent wind transition point is a bit higher. At 9000 feet there is a steady headwind (winds from the north up to 26 knots!) and at 8000 feet there is a steady tailwind (winds from the south) . (That’s in contrast to the 4000 feet transition area experienced in Chile.)

Let’s see what else. Chiclayo was a bit steep on the field fees--$300-! Ouch.
Thierry and Al are leaving for lovely Columbia manana aiming to land in our favorite place—Cali!
Wish them well.

MARCH 4 2003

Got a call on the satellite phone from Thierry this morning. The team is in Chiclayo right now. There is no gas at the airport which is not too unusual an occurrence down there. They’ve been buying some 5 gal plastic containers and then filling the bird with auto gas. It seems to like it. They don’t know exactly how they will be handled by Customs tomorrow but Peruvians seem to take a rather casual view of reporting into the country—despite the hardships of getting the permit.

The pair flew most of Ohlman’s track but alas had no lift since the wind was coming from the south. They did however encounter about 14 condors along the way yet alas passed by the lovely entourage at about 95 knots, so that wonderful avian encounter was albeit brief. As they were soaring in the Andes, the Peruvian officials ordered them out of the mountains immediately and so they had to fly the bulk of the day just gazing longingly at the Andes from the coast. Kinda sad. They overflew the Nazca lines
again and got some better photographs this time..

One amazingly interesting observation they found was that in Chile, the winds above 4000’ are predominantly from the North while the winds below 4000’ are from the south. I’m sure the birds know this fully well but it was news for the twosome. Kinda reminiscent of anchor sailing in the Med. (more on that later.)

They’re hoping to get out of Peru by the 6th and head up to Quito—inching their way ever closer to home.Right now they are mainly concentrating on trying to get reliable weather reports and gas .

FEBRUARY 28th 2003
The Stemme team departed Santiago and flew up to Copiapó--buzzing three observatories along the way. After two active days of chatting with Peruvian authorities about the flight permit and great feats of diplomacy performed by Horacio Parragué (Club Universitario de Aviación) and George Elder to secure the Peruvian transit permit the team was on their way. Without Horatio and George, our dynamic duo may never have gotten the permits!

Before leaving Santiago, Thierry took George Elder up soaring. Thierry and Al also took a day trip over the highest peak in the Americas—Mt. Aconcagua 22,834 (6960m). They’re a bit cautious now about shutting down the engine over rough terrain since they’ve had a number of engine problems.

They plan to detour to Antofagasta for some cliff soaring (2500’) and then head onto Arica, Peru today if not tomorrow.

FEBRUARY 27 2003

The Stemme Team spent Saturday in Santiago lookiñg over George Elder's quince orchard, and Sunday with his family in gorgeous Santo Domingo (on the beach). (There was a nice article in the Santiago paper on Sunday about the adventure. I'll try to get a copy and post it!)

One this little respite, the team's been troubleshooting. Firs they had to get their headsets working since the mike on one of them was defective and shorting out the system. Then it was the logger. Jose Luis Chiuminato, the Cambridge Rep in Santiago, diagnosed the logger problem as a faulty antenna and now it is working . Not so lucky with the LNAV. It needs some factory recalibration but Jose thinks he might be able to do it here. Then the engine was refusing to start -- probably the ground on the igniter units--but with some advice from Rick Wright in Tucson- it now works.

Jose invited the team to a dinner at the Santiago Soaring Society. Very posh!! Private airstrip in center of Santiago. Elegant club house and fulltime chef. They all said the Stemme team was incredibly lucky to have had such good weather at the Cape.

They should be off today or tomorrow to score some more soaring!

FEBRUARY 25 2003

Our fearless team is in Santiago right now taking a bit of a respite and visiting some close family friends, the Elders. George Elder is quite an accomplished pilot in his own regard, makes a mean Pisco Sour and has a lovely place on the coast-- so I think our boys will welcome a bit of downtime outside the Stemme cockpit. They should be departing shortly though and I’ll give you their track as soon as I know it.

FEBRUARY 20 2003

Hola todos! Just got a call from Thierry. They are in a very plush hotel in Pucon right now. They flew the very same track that Klaus Ohlman soared to set the world gliding record along the famous Argentinian Wave! The starting point is at Pt San Martin de los Andes. Alas, it was not a good day for gliding--the wind was from the southwest which made it smooth for flying but sadly liftless.

Just south of Pucon, they flew right into the jaws of an active volcano–well maybe not smack into the jaws but at least close enough to get some spectacular shots of the smoke rising inside from the crater. When they landed at Pucon, some folks from the Santiago gliding club came over and took the boys out for a beer.

When they took off from Punta Arenas a few days back, Juan Alvarez was kind enough to call ahead to Puerto Natales so when they arrived a taxi was waiting to take them into town. Everywhere Thierry and Al go, they are always met with incredible kindness and hospitality. I don’t think they’ll ever want to leave South America!

During the flight from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, they flew directly over Torres del Paine– possibly the most gorgeous place in the entire world. Spectacular doesn’t even begin to describe the rugged beauty of the mountains there and luminous turquoise of the lakes. But it wasn’t all fun and games. The pitot tube worked loose one third into the trip and they had to contend with a loud stall warning for the remainder of the flight.  

As they continued on to Coihaique, the fearless Stemme team flew over some spectacular ice fields that run along the coast there for over 180 miles.  Just before they reached Coihaique though the glider started shaking something fierce. Thierry said the Stemme was rattling so hard he was convinced they’d lost the tip of the prop. Turns out they had two fouled plugs in the no.2 cylinder. An easy fix after they landed.

Once they got back to Coihaique, Carlos put on a typical Patagonian barbeque for them at the airport with all of Carlos’s crew. The chief mechanic acted as the chief de cuisine and the barbeque involved an complete lamb skewered and roasted on a bed of very hot coals. A great treat!!

The Stead Elementary School kids have asked some questions and here are some answers–direct from the pilots!

"It’s been warm most of the time. Generally we wear normal clothes.  We had to use our long underwear once.

Our intercom is giving trouble but it works most of the time.

We have seen many banana plantations in Ecuador and Columbia and will look for coffee plantations on the way back.

Each wing holds 15 gal

The weather and where we want to go plays a major role in our decisions

We weren’t really trying to establish an official world record . That is a complicated process and is controlled by the FAI Federation Aeronautic International.

The plane takes about 25 sec to take off at reduced power and 2 minutes to prepare to land and actually get on the ground

When we are not flying we do our laundry ,eat and sleep. We have been lucky and met very interesting people who have given us information about their country and had us as guests in their homes. We rented a car in Coihaique and went thru the Rio Simpson National park.

FEBRUARY 18 2003

Just heard that Thierry and Al landed a half hour outside Coihaique. The engine was running a bit rough but all’s well. Many thanks to everyone who wrote in with their
kind words of enthusiasm.

Coahaique Map Coihaique Chile

FEBRUARY 17 2003

Hola and many thanks to everyone who wrote in with their congratulations to the team. I haven’t heard from them yet today but wanted to say, "Don’t breathe too big a sigh of relief yet!"  Now their big adventure is really going to start.  Thierry and Al’s initial goal was to reach  Tierra del Fuego as quickly as possible. Now, as they head back home, they will be working towards their larger goal –looking for lift in all the right places.

The adventure continues--so stay tuned.  It ain’t over till they touch tarmac in California and Nevada.  Keep those good thoughts flowing south.

eople run up to the plane—fascinated by the spectacle.
Thierry and Al have taken some photos of the Sierra Madre and will be sending them on tomorrow.
In the morning, they’re headed to Oaxaca and hope to reach Tapachula on the southern border by tomorrow night.
iBuena suerte!
Hasta manana

Previous Adventures: California to Tierra del Fuego

Previous Adventures: Alaska to California