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Pole to Pole

Day 138: Punta Arenas to Patriot Hills

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThere is a general air of nervous excitement. Bruce's dry drawl comes over the speakers:

'It's going to be a little bit rough to start off . . . a bit of turbulence over the mountains . . . We'll be landing on a blue-ice runway . . . the ice is a little rough and the aeroplane wiggles around a bit . . . Lots of engine noise . . . It's all normal . . . You're welcome to come to the cockpit, but if you use a flash camera, please warn me . . . Kinda startles the hell out of me.'

Louie adds a reminder that the aircraft is not pressurized and there is no air-conditioning, and asks us to observe the no-smoking sign. This raises a cheer and a shout of approval from the Australians. 'There are human beings on board!'

I see Basil, who would like nothing more than a relaxing puff or two before heading into what the old maps used to write off as Terra Australis Incognita, sink further into his seat.

At 12.10 the first engine is started, and as all four come on stream and the frame of the aircraft rocks and shakes, everyone is filming everyone else, and Anne is waving a relieved goodbye as we taxi out for take-off.

At 12.30, after final weather clearance, the DC-6 rumbles down the runway, rises confidently into the sky, then turns and heads south down the Strait of Magellan away from the oil refineries and the brightly coloured roofs of Punta Arenas and the wide treeless plateau of Tierra del Fuego.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 138
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 306

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