Lisbon - 6th April 2006
G-GDRV waiting at Halifax International Airport
Gray Bridwell, Charlotte Rhodes, Sam Evans and Manuel in Abilene
Storm clouds gathering before another torrential downpour that washed the beach away!!
Sunrise over the mountains of Sri Lanka
As predicted, Philly is now undergoing HF radio instruction - over the South China Sea!
Manuel & Grandaughter Eva
Preparing to leave the sunshine of Texas
Relics of the last time the Brits visited Tarawa Island - at least Manuel got a better welcome than this!
Day 40 - 8th April 2006
Manuel is home! He landed at Gloucestershire Airport this afternoon at 1506 local time, completing his epic solo round the world flight in 39 days 6 hours 59 minutes and 46 seconds! Congratulations!!
He was welcomed back by a fantastic crowd of friends, relations and well-wishers - thanks to you all - Manuel was quite overwhelmed.
Arrival in Hilo - 18th March 2006
Flying over the Pacific Ocean
Hilo International Airport
Arriving back at Gloucestershire Airport - 8th April 2006
To view Manuel's interview on NBC News click here
Malta from G-GDRV
Day 39 - Lisbon to La Rochelle, France - 7th April 2006
Manuel has landed this evening in La Rochelle, France - only three hours away! He is expected to arrive at Gloucester early afternoon tomorrow, Saturday. ETA update in the morning....
Day 38 - Santa Maria to Lisbon - 6th April 2006
Manuel spent yesterday in the Azores, not being able to see one side of the runway from the other through the fog: although conditions did improve later in the day it was too late for him to fly. However, his wait was amply compensated for by the generous hospitality of new friends made in Santa Maria. Today, although conditions were not fantastic, he has flown the last stretch of the Atlantic to Lisbon. He had first to make a diversion south towards Madeira to avoid the worst of the weather, before heading to Lisbon where he arrived in the early hours of this evening.
To all of you awaiting an ETA for his return to Gloucester, I can only say at this stage that it may well be sometime on Saturday, although there is a possibility it could be tomorrow. I will post a notice to this website as soon as I know when he is expected - so keep logging in and keep an eye on your e-mails. I promise I won't let him back without letting you all know!
The Atlantic from Georgia
Day 36 - Halifax to Santa Maria, the Azores - 4th April 2006
After five days of waiting, Manuel has finally flown the 1800 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the Azores. The flight was very good, although the landing in a very windy Santa Maria was apparently 'interesting'! He now has to decide on his final route home - either direct from the Azores, another very long sea crossing, or via Lisbon in Portugal. This will mean an extra day, but his final leg will be up through Europe, crossing Portugal, Spain and France en route to Gloucester. Watch this space for news of his return...
Day 31 - Halifax, Novia Scotia - 30th March 2006
Manuel was all set to fly to the Azores today, but was grounded again by failure of one of the panel instruments - the giro - which he had to spend the day replacing. This delay was additionly frustrating because it meant that he missed a window in the weather between Canada and the Azores and now may have to wait some while for the next opportunity. But still, he only has two flights to go before he reaches home - so near and yet so far!
Day 30 - Bangor to Halifax, Novia Scotia - 29th March 2006
Manuel flew today from Bangor to Halifax with the intention of continuing direct from there to Azores as soon as there is a suitable window in the weather, which hopefully won't be too long... To the right is a photo taken a couple of days ago, which was Manuel's first view of the Atlantic Ocean as he flew across the eastern States of America.
Day 29 - Bangor - 28th March 2006
Manuel has spent the day in Bangor repairing a leaky brake (the other one this time), studying weather reports and talking with other pilots with a view to altering his route back home. The weather in St John's is very bad, so he is looking at the possibility of flying to the Azores direct from where he is, with maybe a stopover in Halifax, Novia Scotia. Watch this space ...
Day 28 - Savannah to Bangor, Maine - 27th March 2006
Manuel has now flown up the eastern coast of America from Georgia in the deep South to Maine in New England. He had a good flight with clear skies and excellent views, including Manhatten and Long Island, New York. He is now only three legs from home, but they will not be easy ones - the weather conditions are inevitably worsening as he heads north. The next planned leg is to St John's in Newfoundland, Canada.
Day 27 - Abilene to Savannah, Georgia - 26th March 2006
Bad weather across the central states of North America mean that Manuel has had to replan his route to Canada. Instead of heading north east to Ohio, he has flown directly east to Savannah, Georgia on the coast and plans to continue by flying up the coast, first to Maine, then on to St John in Newfoundland. How the weather will be when he arrives there is anybody's guess!
The past few flights he has had the novelty (after all that sea!) of passing through varied and spectacular scenery: around the south of the Rocky Mountains, across the desert of New Mexico, the oil fields of Texas, the Mississippi River and the greener landscape of the eastern seabord states.
Day 26 - Abilene - 25th March 2006
Scheduled aircraft maintenance day passed with no major problems. However, time and location of next destination uncertain, as weather reports for the northern states are not good - some route replanning may be in order.
Day 25 - Apple Valley to Abilene, Texas - 24th March 2006
As I write, have just heard that Manuel has arrived in Abilene and is, and I quote, "surrounded by people and TV cameras". He certainly is being extended a great welcome by fellow pilots and all in America! Thanks guys!
Day 24 - San Jose to Apple Valley - 23rd March 2006
Manuel completed a slightly shorter leg than planned today, from San Jose to Apple Valley in California. This was due to a problem with the engine as he took off from San Jose - it was badly misfiring and he had to land back again. He then spent several hours locating and solving the problem. This obviously severely delayed his intended departure time, allowing him only a few hours before nightfall to continue his flight. He is however well on his way to Abilene in Texas and hopes to complete this leg tomorrow.
The more observant amongst you will have probably worked out by now that, as Day 23 has come and gone, Manuel is not going to break the world record for a round the world flight. Whilst this is a disappointment, we musn't forget that, although obviously the focus was on the 'big one', he set off with the aim of breaking and setting a number of world records - many of which are still achievable. Also, he will still be the first - and therefore fastest - british pilot to fly around the world in an aircraft in this class (500 - 1000kgs). And of course, his first aim was always to fly solo around the world in a single engine aircraft - which, however long it takes, will still be the most amazing achievement!
Day 23 - Hawaii to San Jose, California - 22nd March 2006
Manuel has arrived safely on the West Coast of America, with a wonderful view of San Francisco Bay ahead of him as he approached San Jose airport - although I imagine the sight of any coastline would be a wonderful view after all those hours over the sea! In his usual understated way, he described the flight as 'hard work'. Although the weather had improved enough for him to fly, the conditions were still difficult, but he did have the advantage of being helped by favourable winds. He arrived to a great reception - including TV cameras in a helicopter to film his arrival! He is now taking a well earned rest before his next flight to Abilene in Texas.
Day 22 - Hilo, Hawaii - 21st March 2006
The weather is improving at last and there is a good chance that Manuel will be able to fly out of Hilo tomorrow - destination San Jose, California
Day 21 - Hilo, Hawaii - 20th March 2006
Manuel is frustratingly still in Hawaii waiting for a window in the weather to fly the last Pacific leg to California. He did manage to get from Honolulu to Hilo on Saturday, but since then has been subjected to torrential rain which apparently is the tail end of a weather system stretching right across the ocean along his track to California. There is nothing to be done, but to wait for it to pass. Manuel is cautiously optimistic that this might happen on Tuesday, by which time he will have been in Hawaii for a week. Whilst this might sound like a dream come true, of course it isn't, because the weather is so atrocious that even travelling about the island by road is nigh on impossible because of the flooding!
Day 17 - Hawaii - 16th March 2006
Manuel is still in Honolulu - although the weather has improved slightly, the worst of the storms he was experiencing yesterday have now moved towards the south - which is exactly where he needs to go! He is hoping that he may be able to get to Hilo on Friday and then fly to mainland America on Saturday. For all of you awaiting his arrival in the States, hopefully he will be with you within a couple of days, for all of us waiting for him to return to England, we will have to wait a little longer...
Day 16 - Hawaii - 15th March 2006
Manuel is still in Hawaii, delayed by unseasonal and appalling weather - the worst they have seen in fifteen years according to an aircraft maintenance engineer at the airport - even the 747s are being diverted! Before he can actually set off for the last Pacific leg to the west coast of America, Manuel has to fly from Honolulu to Hilo, another airport in Hawaii, about 200 miles to the south - hopefully there will be enough of a window in the weather to be able to do that reasonably soon, then it will be a question of 'wait and see'. All you GA pilots out there will know exactly what I mean. To the uninitiated, suffice to say that one essential quality of being a pilot of a small aircraft is to learn patience and be philosophical about the weather - there is nothing that can be done about it but to sit it out! This is the first time on the whole journey that bad weather has actually affected his progress - let's hope Manuel will be on his way again soon.
Day 15 - Tarawa Island to Hawaii - 14th March 2006
Manuel has arrived in Hawaii this morning after what he described as a challenging flight and was welcomed with the traditional garland of flowers! He sounds fine and in good spirits, but no further details yet - more later.
Days 12 & 13 - Tarawa Island - 11th & 12th March 2006
Currently Manuel is on Tarawa Island in the Kiribati Islands, one degree north of the equator, just short of the International Date Line, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He is just about half way round and as far away from here as he possibly can be! Not suprisingly, it is very hot - about 40 degrees! He had to arrange hangarage for the aeroplane today, because he couldn't actually touch it without gloves on!! He has been slightly delayed here because the fuel which he had to arrange to have shipped to the island especially for him (from Christmas Island, about 1500 miles away!), although it is there, is not at the airfield and needs to brought from the other end of the island, about 20 miles away. He says the people are very helpful and very friendly, but this is a world where nothing happens in a rush - probably something to do with the heat! He is now a few days behind schedule, but on the whole things are going well - particularly the actual flying - and the aeroplane is bearing up extremely well. If things continue from here on in according to plan, that record is still within his grasp!
Day 11 - Guam to Tarawa Island - 10th March 2006
Manuel arrived in Tarawa (also known as Kiribati or Bonriki) at 6.00 this morning - he is now a full twelve hours ahead of us - after a very long flight from Guam. Details are getting a bit thin now, but he is there. Tarawa is just short of the International Date Line - so almost half way now. Once he leaves Tarawa, it will be yesterday all over again!
Day 10 - Manila to Guam, Marshall Islands - 9th March
The first leg of the Pacific Ocean crossing is completed! Manuel arrived in Guam at about 9.30 this morning after another 10 hour flight across the sea. Not much more news yet, but at least he is there! He will be leaving on the next very long leg to Tarawa Island in the Kiribati Islands in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Days 8 & 9 - Manila, Phillippines - 7th & 8th March 2006
One day was spent in Manila as planned carrying out a thorough service on the aeroplane, with help from a maintenance crew from the airport. There were no major problems - a loose bolt and a leaking brake, but both were sorted out - along with routine oil changes and so on. So it is good to know that the aircraft is coping so well with this mammoth flight - all down, I am sure, to Manuel's meticulous preparations before he left.
The next day was also spent in Manila, not as planned, but battling with paperwork, an occupation which is both frustrating and wearing. However, he did manage to fly out of Manila for Guam at 10.00 yesterday evening.
Day 7 - Penang to Manila, Philippines - 6th March 2006
A long flight today, battling against a head wind for half of the 1500 mile journey across the South China Sea from Penang to Manila - but Manuel arrived safetly in the Philippines after 11 hours, touching down at 11.15 this morning. Once again, the flight was almost entirely across the sea, but Manuel assures me that he has plenty to do and it is certainly not boring! One downside of early morning starts, late evening arrivals and lots of sea is that there have not been that many photo opportunities, but hopefully he may be able to mail us something soon....
Tomorrow he gets to have a lie-in, not having to be at the airport until 8.00am when he has arranged to give the aeroplane its first service since they set off. After some seventy fly hours so far, it is doing very well, but will need an oil change and a thorough checking over. He is not planning to fly again until the following day when he will set off for the first leg over the Pacific, to Guam in the Marshall Islands.
Day 6 - Colombo to Penang, Malaysia - 5th March 2006
Another leg under his belt - Manuel touched down at 11.37 today in Penang (Malaysia) after a ten hour flight across the Bay of Bengal from Sri Lanka. He said he really enjoyed the flight and that the colour of the sea was quite amazing and unlike anything we are used to around here! Colombo ATC were also extremely helpful and managed to keep in contact with him for at least half the journey which Manuel found very reassuring.
He is now almost half a day ahead of us and is due to take off from Penang at around midnight (our time) for another ten hours across the South China Sea to the Phillippines.
So far he has travelled 7500 miles and well over a quarter of the way around the earth!
Day 5 - Muscat to Colombo, Sri Lanka - 4th March 2006
Manuel has completed the longest flight of his journey so far - 1500 miles across the Arabian Ocean from Oman to Colombo in Sri Lanka - a very wet Colombo by all accounts, but to a very helpful and friendly reception. Unfortunately, there are not any further details to report as telephone and e-mail contact is becoming more difficult - the world is still a very big place, despite what you might read about the Global Village! Manuel has replanned his route as reported yesterday, and will now set off tomorrow morning for Penang in Malaysia, instead of Bangkok as originally planned. From there he will fly to Manila in the Phillippines and resume his original route
Day 3 - Luxor to Muscat, Oman - 2nd March 2006
The end of day 3, and 4,000 miles have already been covered! Manuel began the third stage of his journey this morning at 4.45am, leaving Luxor at first light. He flew 100 miles over the Red Sea, then a further 800 miles across the desert - spectacular scenery with mountains and sand - lots of sand! Even flying at 9,500 feet, he was not able to avoid the dust and sand in the air. Nearing his destination, he flew along the coast of the United Arab Emirates and into Oman, with the help of First Officer Philly (see picture) - a baby elephant mascot from his grandaughter Eva. I have a feeling we might be seeing a lot more of Philly!
Having arrived safetly in Oman, he has decided to take a rest day tomorrow, before setting off for Sri Lanka in the small hours of Saturday morning. He will have to spend some of the day replanning his route, because of unexpected problems with airspace clearances - at the moment, Kuala Lumpa or Singapore are looking likely alternatives.
Day 2 - Malta to Luxor - 1st March 2006
After an overnight stop in Malta, Manuel set off on the second leg of his journey at 5.45am this morning, heading across the Mediterranean sea, over Cyprus - where he was suprised to see snow covered mountains - before turning south towards the Nile delta. His intention was to fly down (up??) the River Nile to Luxor, but Egyption ATC had other ideas and sent him on a round robin trip of the country instead - he saw a lot of sand! Nevertheless, he still managed to land ahead of schedule at 13.21pm - probably just as well as the next three hours were taken up with immigration bureaucracy.
So two legs of trip are now successfully under his belt - first light tomorrow will see Manuel heading out across the Saudi Arabian desert to Muscat, Oman on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
And how about this for the wonders of modern technology? A photograph of Manuel arriving in Malta yesterday was posted on the internet almost before we knew he had landed!
Day 1 - Gloucester to Malta - 28th February 2006
The adventure begins! Manuel took off this morning from Gloucestershire Airport at 0702 hours into clear blue skies with a tail wind! What more could a pilot ask for? A crowd of at least forty family and friends braved the freezing morning to see him off and on his way and were rewarded by the glorious sight of his plane heading off towards the sunrise - Chasing the Morning Sun!
Stop press....... Manuel has landed safetly in Malta exactly eight hours after he left Gloucester at 2 minutes past 3 this afternoon.
24th February 2006
A successful Press Launch and Official Leaving party were held at Gloucestershire Airport. ITV Central News, BBC Local TV and Midlands Today were there to film the event, together with interviews with Manuel, his daughter Natalie and his grandaughter, Eva (see photo). Various local papers ran the story in Friday evening's editions and BBC Gloucester and Midlands Today are intending to cover the departure live. ITV Central and BBC Gloucester are also hoping to cover Manuel's progress around the world with live satallite links at various points along the route (the wonders of modern technology!)
As the afternoon progressed, friends old and new from all areas of Manuel's life joined us - he was touched that so many people came along to wish him well. He made a short impromptu speech - trying to explain to us all yet again what has motivated him to undertake this massive project - and thanking everyone for their help and support in bringing his venture to this important point.
Now all that remains is for us to see him safely on his way later this week!
First Officer Philly