The rally consists of 5 Legs starting at Puerto Williams near the southern tip of Chile, including visits to Puerto Natales, Chile Chico, Llanada Grande, Concepción, in central Chile, and finishing at Arturo Merino Benitez (Santiago) International Airport.
The city of Puerto Williams in southern Chile, is the start point for the MEBAR. Originally founded in 1953, it was primarily developed as a naval base. It is now a major tourist hub for tourists going to Cape Horn and Antarctica and is the port of entry and major hub for scientific activity linked to Antarctica.
From our start point in Puerto Williams, we head west to Isla London before turning north to Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is the capital of both the commune of Natales and the province of Ultima Esperanza. Ironically, Puerto Natales is also the only city in the province.
The first day of the MEBAR and Flight Leg 1 provides a familiar "shake down" flight of 368 nautical miles from Puerto Williams (SCGZ) to Puerto Natales (SCNT). The flight includes some mountainous areas and it should ease you into VOR / NDB navigation techniques. That's all I will say, the rest is up to you and your flight planning, and as the old adage goes, "Time spent in the planning is never wasted.". Good luck.
With a mid morning departure time for Flight Leg 2, from Puerto Natales (SCNT) we take a northerly route through the mountains, briefly venturing into Argentinian airspace, to Chile Chico (SCCC). Located on the shores of Lago Gral Carrera, the town is only six kilometres (four miles) west of the border with Argentina and sits in a rain shadow which gives it an unusually dry Mediterranean climate for its latitude. After what could be a harrowing journey through the mountains, we will enjoy a rest day in Chile Chico where you can calm your nerves and relax on the banks of Lago Gral Carrera and prepare for an afternoon departure for the next Flight Leg.
Not only does this Flight Leg encounter the highest terrain of the Rally, it is also the first of the two "blind" Target Time Flight Legs. As a consolation, it is the shortest Flight Leg of the Rally at 341 nautical miles. Don't forget to pack the oxygen bottles.
After a relaxing day in Chile Chico, Flight Leg 3 awaits us from Chile Chico (SCCC) to Llanada Grande (SCLD). Located in the mountains, Llanada Grande is a town in the Los Lagos Region - and that is all I can say about it.
Considered the most challenging Flight Leg from a navigation perspective, another morning departure greets us for Flight Leg 3 as this sector takes us on a 344 nautical mile jolly through the mountains again.
The end is nigh and we have a late afternoon departure from Llanada Grande (SCLD) to Concepción (SCIE) for Flight Leg 4. In full, the city's name is Concepción de la Madre Santisima de la Luz, or in English, Conception of the Blessed Mother of Light. Originally founded in 1550, Concepción was re-founded no less than nine times, including finally being moved to the city's current site, due to a combination of military attacks, earthquakes, and tsunamis. An 8.8 magnitude earthquake on 27 February 2010 killed more than 520 people and, using GPS data, it was concluded that the city had been displaced approximately three metres (9.8 feet) to the west as a result of the event.
With a length of 354 nautical miles, not only is this the second of the two "blind" Target Time Flight Legs it also involves a night arrival at Concepción. After having honed your VOR / NDB navigation techniques, you now get to put them to use at night. With one Flight Leg to go, we will take advantage of another rest day in Concepción to explore this beautiful city.
So, the final day of the MEBAR. The final Flight Leg, and the longest leg of the MEBAR at 382 nautical miles, Flight Leg 5 zigzags its way north, between the coast and the mountains, from Concepción (SCIE) to Santiago (SCEL). Santiago Airport is Chile's largest aviation facility and the busiest international airport in the country. It is also South America's main gateway to Oceania. The world's longest over-the-sea distance flown by a commercial airline is currently a non-stop flight operated between Sydney, Australia and Santiago by QANTAS using a Boeing 747-400ER.
Whilst all the aviation statistics may be interesting, after such an event as the MEBAR, all you are concerned about is relaxing. Maybe another Pimm's, "G&T", Scotch, or "Bundy and Coke" is in order and then some.
Good flight. Nobody died!MEBAR Pilot