Three pilots, five days, 5,000 miles.
Here is the diary of their journey.
Our pilots have known each other and collaborated for years. Maximiliano owns a Tecnam, the P92 to be exact, and has a lot of ferry experience. Matias used to work for the Argentinian Air Force. Today, he is a renowned pilot and instructor, as well as a Tecnam connoisseur. Stefano is the head of operations at Saetta Pampa and the chief pilot at Flex Fly SAS. So, on this journey, we are in safe and friendly hands.
A rapidly growing Argentine aviation company, Flex Fly is starting high-quality charter services from Buenos Aires. With a growing Tecnam fleet, the company plans to expand a new concept of charter services throughout the region.
With more than 100 Tecnam aircraft distributed in South America, the Mendoza-based company is teaming up with Flex Fly to increase Tecnam’s presence and bring the P2012 advantages to the whole region.
Saetta Pampa is an Argentine air services company based in Buenos Aires. The company offers tailor-made services for the private sector, spanning from the delivery of private and corporate aircraft to administration services and pilot training. Tecnam is Saetta Pampa’s preferred brand of choice.
To prepare for this trans-American journey, our pilots gather in Capua, Italy – Tecnam’s headquarters (HQ). Shortly after, the orientation begins. Our pilots receive a formal introduction to the P2012 Traveller. P2012 Traveller is perhaps best known for its versatility. The model has five configurations and can easily transform from airline to cargo, air ambulance, parachute jumping and other purposes, making it popular among private and corporate owners alike. These configurations take minutes to apply, a feature that will come in handy on our trans-American journey. But, more on that later.
Twin powered by Lycoming piston engines and with all-weather certification, this aircraft was designed to transport passengers and cargo with maximum efficiency and safety. 750 horsepower, 359 km/h maximum cruise, 1,760 km maximum range; let’s put the P2012 Traveller to the test.
The Sun is kind as we take off for the Bahamas & the Dominican Republic
Across the pond, in sunny Florida, our journey officially begins. Having met with Tecnam’s Managing Director Giovanni Pascale Langer, the crew gathers, ready for an adventure.
Our first day has us visit the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, so much to look forward to!
With an ocean of tropical bliss ahead of us, we decide to savour every moment. And it’s easy to do so. The weather conditions are ideal from the get-go. The runway is open and inviting. We slide across the smooth concrete and glide up into the air effortlessly.
Leaving Florida, we are left in awe. As the engine purrs and the city glistens below us, we all realize the enormity of the adventure ahead of us. 5,000 miles. It finally starts to sink in. Before long, we are flying over the Bahamas’ turquoise waters and scattered islands.
After a brief stop in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, we head to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This is our last destination today. P2012 aircraft dashboard showing the course through the Turks and Caikos. We arrive in the late afternoon at El Higuero International Airport.
Buckle Your Seatbelts! We Glide through IFR Conditions On Our Way to Guyana
Today, our goal is to reach Georgetown, Guyana, via the British Virgin Islands and Grenada. We fuel up at the Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada. As we ascend from Grenada, our luck with the weather takes a turn. The clouds thicken. Our visibility diminishes by the second. The storm is brewing.
Monitoring the weather radar and relying on our steady Garmin GFC 700 autopilot, we are able to avoid the rain patches and emerge from the cloud cluster into the clear before any real trouble hits. It takes a team effort, but we fly through the IFR conditions smoothly. Our Garmin G1000Nxi flight deck, along with the RNAV procedure, guides us safely to Guyana.
As we emerge from the cluster of heavy clouds lined with that jarring white light, the sun starts to set. Colours quite down and burst into the calm blues, purples and soft yellows. Every mile is a new experience. From the rush of pulling through a potential storm to the serenity of the sunset above the clouds, we often find ourselves in complete silence, eyes peeled to the windows. We land our P2012 at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
We are stranded in the middle of the Amazon! P2012 Traveller Converts Into a Sleeper
Today, our goal is to reach São Paulo, Brazil, by 12 pm. It is a 2,200-mile journey so we need an early start: 4 am, to be precise.
As arduous as you may find waking up before dawn, it pays off pretty quickly.
Nothing beats flying through the calm of the early morning. We enjoy clear skies for a short stretch before our dashboard signals more rain clouds on our way to the first stop-over in Boa Vista, we arrive at 9 am. It is raining heavily at this point so our plan is to fuel up quickly and press on, but bureaucracy will not be rushed today.
Instead of waiting in the hallways for our papers to clear, we decide to make the most of our stopover. For us, this is lunch with the view of the Brazilian Air Force Embraer Super Tucano. By 3 pm, we are finally ready for take-off.
Hours behind schedule, we make our way to Itaituba. As the sun starts to meet the horizon, we are informed that Itaituba is not available for night operations. In other words: we cannot land there. And it’s nearly nightfall so we decide to fly to the nearby Santarem. We reach Santarem at 7:30 pm, after nightfall and we cannot find an airport in its vicinity that is open at night.
The moment you realize that you are stranded in the middle of the Amazon with no place to “park” or sleep, it doesn’t sound fun. This is our second hurdle today and we are tired.
As we turn to the back of our aircraft, we remember how easy it is to unhook and move the seats. The Traveller was made for this! We can clear the space in minutes, pull out our sleeping bags and turn this night from a nuisance into a story for the grandkids.
The more sensible among us stay within our spacious P2012 sleeper, while the daredevils station themselves outside the aircraft unfazed by the bugs, bats and beyond.
Without a paved runway, we taxi over the bumpy soil. We only need a little over 500m, that is 1800ft, of a clear pathway for take-off run. Groggy, we fly a few hours in the dead of night. The shapes below us slowly emerge as colours turn from black to blue. Then the first light of dayparts the sky with a thin line. Soon we are immersed in gold and orange hues.
It is 06:30 am and we have arrived at our destination. After a quick refuelling stop, we continue to Anápolis in the State of Goiás, a small city near the Brazilian capital Brasilia. This is another short stopover before we get to our last destination for the day: Bravo Aviation in São Paulo.
We reach Bravo Aviation’s HQ at 3 pm and are greeted by the classic Water Arch – a ceremonial aeroplane shower, so to speak. We are here to present P2012 to the Brazilian market. Our event attracts journalists, photographers and special guests.
From a night in the jungle to this suit-and-tie event, it feels like this aircraft has contained more events in four days than most of us have experienced in four months.
The fifth day begins with another hint of the IFR conditions ahead of us and sure enough, after three hours of steady rain, we reach Florianopolis, our last stop in Brazil.
The P2012 Traveller was built for shorter routes, coast-to-island for instance, so we weren’t sure how comfortable a five-hour trip would be. Suffice to say, it was a breeze! Between the ideal weather conditions, comfortable seats and large windows perfectly angled to each of our stations, we are reminded of the impeccable quality of this aircraft.
They host another round of presentations for the much-anticipated P2012 Traveller which even attracts the presence of the Italian Ambassador to Uruguay Giovanni Battista Iannuzzi. Sig. Iannuzzi, a pilot himself, decides to test our aircraft and takes us for a sky tour of the shoreline.
We hear tales of the German sunken ship Admiral Graf Spee, but waters are too cloudy today to be able to spot it. Still, our spirits are up as our guests delight in this aircraft and we with Uruguay’s landscape.
Five days and 5,000 miles later, we bring the P2012 Traveller to its new home: San Fernando in the province of Buenos Aires. Our friends and family gather at Aerotec, Tecnam’s authorized dealer in Argentina, to welcome us.
Florida to Argentina, airports to rainforest, and through sunshine and storms, this aircraft has shown its power and its comfort.