On Monday 15 March 2004, members of the team left London bound for Mauritius.
Before meeting at London's Heathrow airport, many members of the team had left their homes in France, Guernsey, Japan and the United States. Others had travelled from all corners of the United Kingdom by a combination of car, bus, taxi, underground and air.
Arriving for the flight, was the first time that many people had met for the first time. No single member of the 3B9C team had met everyone before the trip.
At the Air Mauritius check-in desk, passports were presented, air tickets checked and baggage weighed and tagged. Suitcases with personal effects and some with radio equipment disappeared from sight, with the final destination being Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.
Good use of time was made in the departure lounge by many of the team, who had an early meal before boarding for the flight.
Our Air Mauritius Boeing 767-ER-200 has a flying time of 11 hours from London to Mauritius. During its delivery flight to Mauritius, in 1988, the Boeing broke the world record for non-stop distance flight by a twin-engined commercial aircraft. It flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Mauritius, in 16 hours and 27 minutes.
The B767-ER-200 has a capacity of 175 seats with the following configuration; 24 in J Class and 151 in Y Class.
Upon arrival in Mauritius on Tuesday 16 March 2004, the team spend two hours at the airport before boarding a second Air Mauritius flight, this time with the destination of Rodrigues Island. For some, it will be their third or forth flight in 24 hours.
Our aircraft for this final flight is an ATR42-500. The ATR (Avion de Transport Régional) is a technically advanced small airliner, built jointly by Aerospatiale in France and Aeritalia in Italy. It has a normal cruising speed of 480 km per hour and flies to a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. The airline uses this type of aircraft on inter-island flights to Reunion and Rodrigues.
On arrival on Rodrigues Island, the team have an hour to spend in a bus, being transported across to the Cotton Bay Hotel, which is located as far away from the airport as it is possible to be.
Perhaps there will be some time to eat, before a well earned sleep.
Early on the morning of Wednesday 17 March, we start to assemble what is, arguably, the largest DXpedition amateur radio has ever seen.
Wish us well !
Air Mauritius is a 3B9C sponsor.