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Pole to Pole

Day 137: Punta Arenas

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAt the airport, but the news is not good. Bruce Allcorn, our pilot, a white-haired, white-bearded, broad-shouldered Canadian with twenty-five years' flying experience in the Arctic and three years down here, is bent over the computer in the meteorological office. He beckons me over and points out four low-pressure systems between here and the Patriot Hills. A few days back there had been nine frontal systems in the area. He shakes his head.

'This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. If you saw a weather map like that in Europe you'd all move.'

He's worried that there is a lot of wet weather around, and the combination of wet weather and height leads to icing. Also it's important to have 'good visual' on the mountains. What this actually means is that he won't believe they're there unless he can see them. There's no guided navigation down here. In fact below about sixty degrees South there is not even satellite coverage. All of which is why Bruce likes to see where he's going.

He introduces me to his co-pilot, Louie. 'He's a fully qualified stuntman, you know.'

A youngish, angular, handsome face. Eyes that look back impassively. These two, like everyone else on the edge of the Antarctic, are straight out of Central Casting.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 137
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 304

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