Noumea to Pago Pago






Noumea to Pago Pago

I decided to leave a day early, and did my weather watch, went to bed, up at 4 am, a fun fast drive to the airport in a rented Citroen with a bad case of understeer, very easy time with departure procedures. I go by the air services office, and am given my personal flight and weather briefing. No wind, sun is up early, and I take off at 6:36, with a departure climb to the west, turning back east to cross the island at 7000 feet, climbing to 110. The satellite showed a fair amount of heavy clouds near Fiji and again at Pago Pago. The winds were neutral to start, with 15 knot headwind forecast at American Samoa. I call a friend and fellow 210 driver in Chicago, who has been giving me in flight weather updates, and he helps me dodge the worst of it.

Fiji comes up about half way, with some well developed storms over the top. I can make small deviations and stay out of most of it, although I did spend an hour in medium rain earlier.






Fiji is mountainous and quite striking, peaks occasionally visible through the clouds. I see a few more atolls, and past Fiji, I see an island that I am surprised isn’t inhabited. It looks like a perfect spot for a vacation home. In fact, quite a few little paradises pass beneath. As a child, I read about the south Pacific, enchanted by tales old and modern. Now I’ve seen some of it, and it far surpasses my imagined beauty.



An interesting thing happened, but I failed to carefully note it’s passing- I left on Tuesday the 10 th , and arrived in Pago Pago Monday the 9 th . I crossed the date line east of Fiji, and recovered all those hours I have lost traveling toward the sunrise.



South Pacific weather



An interisland Beaver about 10,000 feet below



Back out over open water, I am handed over to Faleola in Western Samoa, then eventually Pago Pago approach. I get a really big smile, the voice is American, and the altimeter setting doesn’t require conversion. I chat a little with the controller, and he gives me an easy approach, I try to keep moving for some following traffic. In a non radar environment, the arrival times are key, and by listening, you can help with the flow.

I line up for the ILS, and finally get to see more of the island, with jagged peaks in the clouds, and the runway right next to the water. Landing is easy, taxi to parking, and I am met by Customs and Immigration. A walk through the terminal and $82 total fees, and I go back to the plane. The fuelers are waiting, and I really fill everything up to the top. It takes a while, but they give me a big present afterward- I get to taxi straight into a hangar, which fills me with gratitude and relief. I pay for the gas, $847 for 200 USG, then get a ride with the handler to the hotel. The Tradewinds is very close to the airport, quite nice, and it has free high speed internet in each room!

Yet another room service meal, and I have to decide whether to go tomorrow afternoon, or wait a day.





Pago Pago Control Tower


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Last Updated: January 9, 2006