Naples, Italy, April 18, 1986: Today, I’m first in line for takeoff from Naples toward our initial destination of Nice, France. It has taken all morning to assure that the paperwork is up to Italian standards, but we’re finally ready, or so I hope. For this trip, I’m leader dog of a small band of not-so-intrepid aviators who are, allegedly, experienced in ferrying little airplanes across big oceans.
It’s our fourth day in Naples, waiting for a customs strike to be resolved.
(I finally resolved it with $1,200—2.4 million lira at that time—paid to a friendly Italian customs agent at his home to compensate him for “overtime fees.”) There are three more new Partenavia P68s in line behind me, the last of 15 we’ve contracted to deliver from Italy to points west, primarily Florida and California.