Around the world in Cessna 182

November 16, 2003
Antofagasta, Chile (SCFA) to Santiago, Chile (SCEL)

The Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on the Earth, stretches for 600 miles from the Peru border at the north, to La Serena at the south. The average overall rainfall is only 0.004 inches per year, and some places have not had rain in over 400 years. No wonder that NASA is using it to test their lunar and mars rovers.

As I was preparing for a takeoff in Antofagasta, which is right on the Pacific coast, the weather was cloudy and the visibility rather low as you can see below. My flight path today was once more following the coast of the Pacific. No, I am not trying to fly around the world following the coast line, but as long as I am flying next to the Andes, I will have to do just that. Cessna 182 is not capable of flying high enough in order to do anything else in this part of the world. For instance while at Peru, I wanted to visit Machu Picchu (ancient Inca town high in the Andes), but after checking the topography of the area, I decided it would just not be possible in this plane.

After takeoff I was flying almost directly south (182) to the CLD VOR, and from there 177 towards the capital of Chile. For the first part of my trip, I maintained 9,500 ft. and after the CLD VOR, I climbed to 13,000. At one point, I had to climb even higher (14,000 ft.) as the mountain was on my way, and that seemed as the reasonable thing to do (rather than going around). As this trip progresses, I am getting better and better with flying, especially at being fuel conscious and flying the most efficient way. That skill will come really handy as I have few very long legs I have ahead of me.

Santiago, the capital of Chile is a city of over 15 million. It is located in the Andes at the altitude of 1,554 ft. Even though the city is not all that high, to get to it from the north, one has to fly over the high mountains. About 50 miles north of the city, I started descending rather slowly. When I was 27 miles north of Santiago airport I was at 11,000 ft. and from there I had to increase the rate of the descent. The landing was great though, probably the best so far. Hurray!

Leaving Antofagasta

The Atacama Desert, northern Chile

Above Andes at 13,000 ft

Farmland north of Santiago

Final approach to Santiago International
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Produced and maintained by Peter Askovich.
Last updated Sun October 26 2003