Morning Glory Cloud

Morning Glory Cloud
Morning Glory over Massacre Inlet (photo: Diane Davey)

Friday, November 26, 2010

End of Trip Celebration

As we are getting so close to Christmas, we thought we had left it a bit late to find a venue for the trip end celebration. It was to be a low key dinner with friends from the Stand By You Cancer Foundation and some key supporters who helped make the trip a reality.
It took a few goes but we did end up finding a great spot with less than a week to spare (phew!). I thought it best not to mention that the private room we booked in the japanese restaurant required us to remove our shoes. Some things are best left as surprises ; )
In keeping with the trend, Melbourne weather did not let us down.  The evening forecast included severe weather warnings of thunderstorms, hail and flash flooding. One of the guests even rang a neighbour to put a blanket on his car to avoid hail damage! (the car ended up being fine)
With the small room full of Stand By You founders and contributors, gliding people and family, there was no shortage of things to talk about. Conversations were as varied as people's backgrounds: from cane toads and hailstorms to F-111's , skydiving, New Zealand, Japan and more.
CiCi spoke to us all about the foundation's appreciation for all the generous donations and how the funds raised by the trip were helping people.  Like those who were dealing with cancer treatments this winter (which has been particularly cold) and needing to stay warm.   She mentioned how hard it can be for those who are fighting cancer to find themselves also struggling financially with medical and other expenses, like heating.
She explained how most cancer foundations are focused on the important research required into this terrible illness, which is, of course, very much needed. With her work with cancer sufferers, she found that there was also need to do something for the day to day immediate needs of those affected. That is the focus of Stand By You.
She was also proud to annouce a new partnership with Spa-ing Partner in Queensland. Annie Duffy, who lost her sister to cancer, contacted CiCi about forming a partnership, extending Stand By You into Queensland. More news about the partnership will be available on the SBY website ( as well as on the Spa-ing Partner website( soon.
I'm very grateful to all the people who have donated to the cause - not only the financial contributions, but also those who provided me with support and encouragement to make the trip happen. Your names should all be on the framed certificate CiCi presented to me (pictured below). I'm very lucky to have you as my friends, Thank you!
The question of "what's next" came up a few time last night. I'm afraid I don't have an answer for that one just yet, but I've certainly got a few ideas in early baking stages that will hopefully provide some inspiration along with continued support to  Stand By You.
And I've started looking for a job. More on that one next time...
Next time he's coming with me!

With CiCi and Mike (who must be wondering if I'll ever stop talking)

Geoff and Gayle, FLK's 'parents' with Phil

Shoeless fun

The certificate CiCi presented me with. This thoughtful and personal touch sets SBY apart as a charitable organisation to deal with. Thoughts echoed by new partner Annie Duffy of Spa-ing Partner in QLD.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

All great things must come to an end - and what a great one this was!

What an amazing weekend! It was well worth the wait – even if it was for a whole month! When I signed off the maintenance release to do the test flight on Friday, I noticed that it was a month to the day that I had landed in Tocumwal. After having the 50 hour service, which included the maintenance on magneto, I took it through it’s paces to make sure it was right to go for some of the inhospitable Victorian terrain down to the coast.
It’s funny that out of the whole trip, the hilly, woody  ‘tiger country’ between Kyneton and the coast, was the bit I was least confident flying over (with Bacchus Marsh right in the middle of it, funny enough).  I flew over some rough ground during the trip, but most of it was flat – and there always seemed to be a reasonable spot to land in if I needed to (relatively speaking). This was going to be rough – and hilly, with very few options should something go wrong, not to mention the airspace!  If you’re wondering why my track on the spot tracking is not so direct, it’s because of me avoiding airspace into Melbourne & Avalon and avoiding the roughest terrain.  I wasn’t playing with clouds (much) – really!
I got into Bacchus Marsh  from Tocumwal on Friday. I had planned on taking Phil for a fly in the still evening air and golden light, but Friday peak hour traffic killed that idea. It was going to have to wait for Saturday.  We ended up having dinner in a pub in Bacchus Marsh. The hearty country pub meal (steak, of course) got me back into the mood of the whole trip. One thing I’ve found you can rely on across this great country is a decent steak in a country pub!  Phil and my last meal together at the start of the trip was a steak  in a pub in Cobar, so it really felt right - and tasted great!
I woke up on Saturday morning like a kid at Christmas. It took all I had to contain my excitement of flying down to the coast. I was thrilled that Phil would be coming with me. I think that as he missed out on the coastal flights of the northern end, it was only fair that he would not miss out on the southern coast.
Climbing out of Bacchus Marsh with the help of a good thermal, we were off. The flight down to the coast was nice and smooth, with visibility limited to about 15km with some murk. There was no mistaking the coast when we started getting closer. The water was a deep crystal blue , with  a clear white band of surf marking the coast beyond the low cliff edge. As we got closer to the coast, we could see the remaining  bits of the 12 Apostles and the Great Ocean Road. It was spectacular.
After taking several photographs, we headed back to Bacchus Marsh, secured the plane, caught up with some gliding friends and drove home.
 I woke up early again this morning, knowing that that today, I would be returning the plane to it’s home base at Wahring, marking the official end of the trip. As I took off from Bacchus and headed north, I was reminded of the start of the journey, almost  exactly 2 months ago. It seemed like a lifetime ago. The air was so smooth that I was flying hands off – like the Falke was just happy and knew were to go.  As I flew north, I missed that feeling of heading out into the unknown, going north until I ran out of land to fly over. Hmmm....
 I’m still wondering what you follow something like this up with... but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.  It really was such an amazing trip! Thank you everyone for sharing it with me through this blog! I'll keep you posted on what I come up with - let me know if you have any suggestions ; )
Phil and I headed for the south coast

A little bit of 'cloud bursting' on the way

The coast! The coast!

Heading for what's left of the 12 Apostles

I can't believe I've flown all this way!

Landing at Bacchus with engine off. Love where the prop stopped.

What a great flight!

Getting ready for the last little bit

Me with the best support crew in the world

I did it! I did it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Promising Outlook

An article in last week's paper summed up what I had been thinking for a while:

Another wet weekend for Victorians (November 13, 2010)

Victorians are mopping up once again as another weekend storm dumps heavy rain across the state.
It has become a soggy trend in the state's drought-breaking year with Fridays and Saturdays recorded as the two wettest days of the week.
Cricket grounds are soaked, racing events have been delayed or cancelled while even Saturday's Myer Melbourne Christmas Parade had to begin with puddles of water under grey skies.
The Bureau of Meteorology has recorded rainfall on nearly half of all Saturdays in 2010, nearly double the rainfall average.
© 2010 AAP

BUT - it's looking promising for this weekend, FINALLY!

The reason I want to finish the trip on a weekend is so that seeing as I missed out flying with Phil at the top, I want to do the bottom part with him.

So I'm going up to Tocumwal to get the plane from there to Bacchus Marsh today so we can fly down to the south coast tomorrow, then bring the Falke back to it's home base at Wahring on Sunday. Oh, and somehow get my car back from Toc!

Fingers crossed the weather holds up.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Farewell Alf

Some sad news - Phil's father passed away late last week. We were in Perth with family for most of the week. He had been unwell for a while, but nothing really prepares you for losing a loved one.

It's amazing what you learn about people when they pass away - things you wish you'd known before so you could have talked about it. Alf fled Lithuania during the war as it was unsafe there with the Russians invading. As with many people who have lived though such difficult times, he wasn't big on talking about it, but it still would have been nice to try.

I think everyone has a few stories worth telling, maybe we just have to slow down, ask, and take the time to listen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weather, technology and Daz the cane toad

Well, the long weekend is over and I'm still waiting for the weather to improve so I can get back in the air and complete the Victorian leg of the trip. I don't want to jinx it but it might be ok on the weekend (woohoo!). My plan is to fly from Tocumwal across to Kyabram (overfly), then down to the coast around Torquay. Then I'll head back to Bacchus Marsh or Bendigo to fuel up and return the Falke to Wahring (assuming the airfield will be dry enough by then). Doing this over the weekend makes the logistics a bit easier because Phil can fly me up there in the Pacer, so it saves driving up there and back (3hrs each way).

Over the weekend, I had a look at the spot tracking page to save the track that I took. I was dissapointed to find that they don't save the data for more than 30 days. Even the data they save appears to be patchy and incomplete, which means that I've lost all the tracks except for a couple of the return legs.  The good news is that it did let me create a route manually so I was able to do that and post the route as a "Recently Popular Adventure" (?) which appears under the live map on the spot site (live tracking link to the right). For some reason, the map appears with South America and Africa when you open it up so you just need to drag it across to Australia. Annoying, I know, but I can't seem to fix it no matter how I try.

They say bad luck comes in threes so my third thing is that I've lost all my contacts (and everything else!) in my phone. Aaaarrrrgh! As I've mentioned before, the only Morning Glory shots I have are the ones taken with my iPhone. The photo quality is terrible (as you can see on the big photo above). The photos look great on the phone but as soon as I download them, they look awful and pixelated. Someone suggested that I try to download them via iTunes as the problem could be a compression issue on transfer. I thought I'd give it a go. When I plugged my phone to my computer, I was forced to update iTunes as well as the iPhone software  Shortly after, the the phone was frozen. I had no choice but to reset everything, loosing all my data in the process. At least I've got low res copies of my photos. C'est la vie. So if you don't hear from me, it's probably because I've lost your details!

After all that, I needed a laugh, so I had a look a the Dazza Cane Toad video, which did the trick and brought back a few good memories of the trip. Here it is if you need a bit of a chuckle yourself:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good to go, except for low

I went back up to Tocumwal on Thursday evening so I could get an early start Friday helping Mike fit the magneto back in FLK and time it. The magneto is the engine bit that makes the spark plugs spark, so it's essential for the engine to fire. It's also important that it is timed properly so that the spark is created at the right time for the engine to run smoothly.  FLKs magneto was behaving badly, so it needed a bit of attention.
Quick magneto story... When I first came to Australia, I was really into skydiving.  I was jumping down at Pakenham and occasionally helped out on the manifest desk on the weekends. Manifest is like the front desk - where jumpers sign up to go up on a load and also pay for their jumps. The planes used to work pretty hard down there and as you'd expect, things occasionally needed some maintenance. Manifest would also keep people informed if there were any delays or issues with loads. Mary Kelly, who used to run the desk had a clever way of handling questions relating to aircraft issues. Regardless of what the problem was (often we wouldn't know yet anyway), Mary would put on a sombre expression and nod knowingly, saying : "magneto..." The person would either return a knowing nod and shrug "hmph..." or just look blankly. Either way, it would immediately stop any further enquiries on the matter, which was the desired effect.  
How clever would I have looked if I'd applied Mary's theory to FLK!  You wonder why I fly planes with no engines.
This weekend is Melbourne Cup Weekend, which means Tuesday is a public holiday and many people usually take the Monday off. It also often means Victoria is likely to be covered in a low pressure system (wind and rain).  Melbourne Cup weekend is the unofficial start of the gliding season. There are club camps and activities all over the place (e.g. lots of Victorians going to fly elsewhere). The Vintage Gliders Australia folks are having gathering at Bacchus Marsh so having missed out on flying into the Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia's fly in last weekend, I was hoping I could fly the Falke into this Vintage Gliding event. Unfortunately, now it's the weather's turn to be uncooperative. I still can't wait to get down there (driving)  to catch up with everyone (better get going!)
So FLK is now ready to finish off the trip (thanks Mike!). Aside from the weather, there are a few logistical challenges to work through but essentially we're right to go. I can't wait to get back into the air!

Must be Melbourne Cup weekend! (image from Weatherzone)
FLK with 'The Catcher' - my time saving low tech invention for accidentally dropped bolts and screws.

Mike hard at work while I warm up in the cockpit. Someone had to take the photo!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Great Way to Pass the Time while waiting for FLK

The weekend just passed was the Antique Aeroplane Association's annual Auster Rally at Kyabram in Victoria. Kyabram is frustratingly close to Tocumwal, where FLK waits for it's repairs. I had hoped to fly into the event in the Falke, but it just wasn't meant to be.

This yearly event run by the AAAA is in honor of the Auster aircraft. Auster's wingspan almost qualifies them as gliders. They've also been used as tugs over the years. They are a bit faster than the Falke (which is not real hard) and they've got stacks of character - as do the majority of Auster 'drivers', which makes for a fantastic weekend.

The AAAA runs a few fly-in events a year. The first one Phil and I attended some 10-15 years ago was at Kyabram. Since then, the events have grown and have generally been held at larger centres. It was really nice to go back to a simple grass paddock and a low key event this time. Phil and I managed to sneak out of Melbourne in the Pacer on Friday afternoon. All up, I believe about 50 aircraft turned up, which is excellent considering the wet weather on Saturday morning.

It was great catching up with all our friends from around the country, telling people all about my big adventure. I think I set a new record for time spent saying goodbye on the Friday night. It must have taken us 2 hours to get out the door after I kept running in to people I hadn't seen in a while on the way out.

The Awards dinner was held on the Saturday night. The tables were decorated with little flying Snoopys and windsocks to add to the atmosphere. After the presentations, an auction was held selling off the flying Snoopys for the Stand by You Cancer Foundation. The Association had included information about my trip and the links to my blog and donation page in their quarterly magazine so many people from the AAAA had already made generous donations (THANK YOU!). They knew I was a bit short of the $5,000 target and wanted to help close the gap. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Association members as the donations on the night (on top of those already made!) doubled the 'gap' amount. Thank you so much for your support AAAA!

Arriving on the Saturday afternoon - quite a few planes here already, looking fabulous.

Prime parking spot next to a few Austers

This camera makes the cockpit look so roomy!

Boats zooming around on a full Lake Eppaloch

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FLK Update

FLK continues to be stubborn about not wanting to go back to Victoria. It is taking bribes in the form of magneto coils so I hope to convince it soon that it's really not such a bad place to be.

The mag has been attended to quickly and efficently at Moorabbin (thank you Ian!) and I will be bringing it back to Tocumwal late next week when time has been squeezed into a busy schedule to fit it (thanks Mike!). Let's hope that does the trick!

So the adventure continues - I'm just so glad this happened so close to home - how lucky is that!  Geoff (the owner) has agreed to let me hang on to FLK for a little while longer to let me finish the trip down to the Victorian coastline once the repairs are complete. Thanks Geoff!

I've also extended the dates on the donation page so it doesn't close before I finish the trip - it would be great to raise $5,000 (nice round figure), so if you were thinking of making a donation and have not got around to it, please do so before it's too late. Donations are most appreciated, as are your excellent comments which I've really appreciated and enjoyed reading throughout the trip.

All the donations go directly to the Stand By You Cancer Foundation. The funds are not used to pay for any of the trip - I am personally funding the whole trip myself, with the wonderful support of my husband.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back home (kind of)

I made it back home. Yay! Unfortunately, FLK didn’t want to come back to Victoria. I think it missed Mike (the engineer) and wanted to spend a little time with him in Tocumwal. Once the issue is resolved, I’ll go back up to Tocumwal and finish off the Victoria part of the trip, hence the 'kind of' in the title of this post.
Now there will be some people reading this that know how much I hate the end of a good holiday and might be thinking that this is my way of extending it. All I can say to that is that I had no control over this – I swear! My holiday is simply not meant to end just yet. What a shame ; )
So how did I get home yesterday? I think I mentioned before that Phil was going to fly alongside me in the Pacer so I could finish the trip in the same way I started - with him as my 'wingman'. We would also be able to get a few air to air photos.  Phil had flown up to Tocumwal to meet me so we went back to Bacchus Marsh in the Pacer. Gee it was fast compared to the Falke - even with the headwind.
Again the changes in the countryside amazed me. After having flown over such remote areas, the paddocks in Victoria looked so tiny. There was a fair bit of haze around (or was it just that I was now used to clear, smog free air?) and together with the late afternoon sun, it gave a surreal, dream like impression, which was rather appropriate.

Meeting up with Phil at Tocumwal

What's wrong, baby?

Back at Bacchus Marsh.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time to Spare? Go by Air

I had planned on getting to Bendigo today, stopping at Tocumwal for lunch/refuel and to say hi to Mike Burns who helped get the plane ready for the trip. The oil was also due for a change so I thought it would be a good place to do that before crossing the border to Victoria. The plan was for Phil (my husband) to meet me at Bendigo tomorrow morning (Wed)  and we would fly in company down the coast and back to Bacchus Marsh.
But I got off to a slow start this morning. I had woken up at 3am all excited about being so close to home. The excitement wore off about 5:30 am when I finally managed to fall back asleep.  Had to hit the snooze button a few times when 'get up time' arrived so quick. I figured I had a fairly easy day, so no need to rush things.
I got to the airport and started getting the plane ready. I was getting close to going when the place turned into Heathrow airport. There were regional airliners coming and going in all directions. Apparently there was a bit of a backlog due to a bird strike and some bad weather.  I waited until everything quietened down and finally got off the ground.
Next came the headwind. The trucks were beating me today. Enough said.
I was again amazed at the countryside. It was like a beautiful green patchwork quilt. As I got closer to Tocumwal, there was also a fair bit of flooding visible. Mike told me later that several roads, including some major ones to Wagga and other key centres had been closed off due to flooding in the last week or so.
As I approached Tocumwal, I could see a long line of cloud/mist sitting round about where Victoria starts.  Looked like it would clear eventually – plenty of time... You can see where this is headed.
I had lunch (thank you Gloria and Glenys!) I got the oil changed and Mike helped me tinker with a few adjustments on the Falke.  Before you know it, it was late afternoon, so decided to stay here tonight. I think my latitude/attitude change is still a state or two behind - I guess I wasn’t quite ready to go back to Victoria just yet.
Morning flight planning

Waiting for RPT #3 to go
A third hand would be useful to taxi the Falke. Brakes, throttle, stick? Good thing you steer with your feet!

Trying to leave Griffith. It actually went down to 42kts (78kph). At least it was a scenic route!

Admiring the patchwork

Landing at Tocumwal - need that 3rd hand again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Griffith and Flashback to Sweers Island

I’m writing this from Griffith, NSW. I flew here via Cobar, in ‘stealth mode’ – that is, without the spot tracker. The batteries packed it in and the replacement ones I had were the right size, but apparently the device only takes lithium batteries. The ones I had were plain old alkaline ones.  Sorry about that!
I really enjoyed the flying today. I’ve enjoyed it every day, but today especially. When I flew this leg in the other direction, I was flying in company with my husband, so it brought back some good memories. It seems like a lifetime ago now. I'm looking forward to seeing him!
About half way between Cobar and Griffith, everything starts to change. It’s no longer remote, it’s no longer the outback. The airport was busy, there were planes going everywhere – Royal Flying Doctor, crop dusters, twins, - all ‘working’ aircraft. I decided to have a bit of a tootle around as I waited for the circuit to die down a bit – because I can ; )  After about 20 minutes, I’d managed to climb up to 4000 feet without even trying and was reminded of how cold it was up there. I still hadn’t regained feeling in my toes, so I decided to come down and slot in between a couple of crop dusters.  I also needed to get to the shops to get some lithium batteries for the spot before they closed.
As the taxi drove into town, there were more reminders of the ‘change’: McDonald’s, BigW, Target, Woolworths, Coles, KFC etc .  Got the batteries, checked into the motel and it was dinner time. Having had one of my few remaining muesli bars for lunch, I was starving.  Despite all the hallmarks of civilisation, the serves here are definitely ‘country size’. The wagyu rump steak I ordered was half my weight. No wonder the Leagues Club is packed on a Monday night. I almost finished it too! Better have a lie down now...
Almost forgot – here is the link to the audio file and write up from the ABC interview with Karyn Wilson on Sweers Island.  It was done several days before the Morning Glory finally came.

With the drought in recent years, Bourke council had a clean up of the river bed while the water was low. They made these sculptures with the junk they collected. These are at the motel in Bourke.

Lining up for departure at Bourke

A bit of help from nature to climb out of Bourke. It did hit 10 knots up.

Refuelling from the jerry can at Cobar. I'm not tall, strong or game enough to try to lift the full jerry can. The decanting in the special approved container worked a treat, even if it took a while longer.

A reminder of how slow I'm going. I did manage to pass this truck (white dot on the right side near the middle) but it took a while.

Life is wonderful.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sundays in the Outback

I had the feeling I’d be getting some strong headwinds at some point on the trip. Let’s hope today is as bad as it gets for the rest of the trip. I’m now more than half way on the return trip, I’m starting to get excited about getting home. I crossed the QLD/NSW border today and I’m now in Bourke. I’m not really sure what time it is here. I think I might have lost an hour crossing the border. There is no carpet in my room so I can’t tell if the daylight savings has faded it  ; )
It doesn’t really matter – everything is closed today anyway. Sunday in outback towns is like stepping into another dimension – The streets and buildings are there but there are no people and no cars. Kind of like a Spielberg movie – everything is deserted but there are faint signs of habitation. This concept is mildly compelling in a big city, but in an outback town, it’s not great – especially if you’re looking for a meal.  It’s not only on Sundays either – Saturday afternoons are much the same, as I was reminded of only yesterday. The only place in town that was open was Crazy Clark’s, which is like the Reject Shop or  the $2 shop. I didn’t really feel like having out of date lollies for lunch but as it was nearing 3pm, I was getting pretty desperate. To my surprise and relief – CC’s had a variety of tinned food that even looked like it was produced in the right decade.  I ended up lunching on a salad of kidney beans, corn and lemon pepper smoked tuna – all for under $4 - including the container I bought to mix it in. Bargain! Must be something in the water up here (maybe it’s the sulphur?)  that brings out the resourcefulness in you.
No tinned food or muesli bars for dinner tonight - my thoughtful hosts at the Back O Bourke accommodation (no kidding!) picked me up from the airport, lent me a car so I can have a look around town (it was deserted) and made me a nice home cooked meal.  Got to love Sundays in the outback!

Getting ready to go at Charleville (also deserted)

'En Route' cam. Finally worked it out and remembered to turn it on!

Au revoir, cane toads and toilet frogs

Near the QLD/NSW border

<insert sound of crickets and tumbleweeds rolling past>

 Striking artwork on the side of the supermarket.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Headwinds and Jerry Cans

I made it to Charleville today. I had a 10 to 15 knot headwind most of the way here. I had anticipated having to land at Blackall to top up out of the jerry can, but things were looking good so I cut the corner and headed for Charleville. All up, it took me about 3.5hrs so it was a pretty slow trip, which seemed even slower when I started thinking about all the water I had been drinking.
I’ve been wanting to tell you about my jerry can story. It goes back to when I was planning and getting ready for the trip. Most of the legs that I planned had a fuel stop in case I needed to top up. The fuel stop for the Longreach to Charleville leg was Blackall. The only problem with this plan was that they no longer have fuel at Blackall. I wasn’t comfortable with the fuel margin on this leg should I encounter strong headwinds or need to divert due to weather so I needed a plan.  The simple solution was to bring along a jerry can full of avgas. It would also be handy for any other fuel situation I might encounter.
Geoff (FLK’s owner) had also mentioned to me that it was advisable to tape up the airbrakes overnight should there be a chance of rain as the airbrake boxes are made of wood (in fact, much of the plane is made of wood) and can be affected by water sitting in them for extended periods.
So off I went to Bunnings. Now, if you’re like me, as soon as you walk into that place, you forget what you went there for and end up wandering the aisles aimlessly, buy stuff you didn’t go there to buy and forget to buy what you went there for in the first place.  To overcome this issue, I’ve started the practice of pausing at the entrance and asking the attendant where I can find what I went there for.  In this instance, I did this with reasonable sense of purpose. It took me a while to realise why the attendant looked so distraught when I asked: “where are the jerry cans? and where will I find the electrical tape?” I was still laughing when I got to the register – and paid cash! ha!
When I told my husband when I got home, he suggested I should have also asked where they keep the fertiliser. Wonder what they would have done? “oh, it’s just for the plane...”
I got into the observatory tour for tonight so looking forward to being humbled once again by the wonders of nature and the world around me.
Departing Longreach. The two ends of the runway have different postcodes.

A gliding friend of mine would say: "Power pilots call it turburlence":  500 feet per minute climb, (variometer just in frame at the bottom) passing 4600 feet - engine at idle. Not a cloud in the sky. Magic.

Bypassing Blackall - again.

Paddocks! Haven't seen those for a while.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wet and Windy in Longreach

The weather I’ve been talking about in previous posts has arrived. The rain woke me up just before 6am – it felt like I was sleeping in!  I don’t think anyone in Australia east of Alice Springs from north to south stayed dry today. When I switched on the TV in the room, one of the morning shows was talking about this being the ‘biggest rain event of 2010’. It reminded me how much I don’t miss TV - except for Glee, of course. You’ve got to love Glee - if only because it irritates those who don’t love Glee (aka closet Glee lovers).
The last couple of days have been such a blur, it’s good to have a bit of time to reflect on what I got to experience on Tuesday morning. Very few people have had the opportunity to experience this unbelievable natural wonder. The Morning Glory is jaw-droppingly beautiful, majestic and peaceful all at the same time. It is humbling and exciting. It is mysterious and it is grand.
I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be one of the few people who get to experience it. Sure, it was something ‘on the bucket list’, something I really wanted to do, but just like really wanting to win the lotto, you know it’s probably never going to happen. That's kind of like I was feeling - I 'bought my ticket' (I flew up to Burketown) but I wasn't really going to 'win'. Not me! Turns out that this year, only two glider pilots got to experience the Morning Glory. Words cannot describe how it feels to be one of those two people, but tissues certainly come in handy.
I just can’t help thinking about how lucky I am to have regained my health and to have had support and help from so many people to make that amazing flight possible.  Thank you!
I also can’t help thinking about the many who are not so lucky and find themselves with health issues and are on their own or in need of some assistance, just to get through their day.  I’m very grateful for all the generous donations which have been made to the Stand By You Cancer Foundation as a result of my adventure.
The forecast for tomorrow is looking better. I hope to make it to Charleville and hopefully get to do the star tour at the observatory that I missed out on when I was there a lifetime ago (2 weeks ago?).
The internet connection here is woefully slow, so only a few pics today – sorry!
The Falke wondering what all the wet stuff is

My Stand By You shirt with signatures from most of the people I met in Burketown.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Qantas Founders Museum Longreach

The Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach was the second thing on my list of things to do on the trip - I had been looking forward to this for a while. The museum is independently run, it is not owned by Qantas. It relies on visitor entry fees and donations to keep its doors open.  They run a few different tours and I can say that I would recommend ALL of them, particularly the Wing Walker Tour, which is a bit on the expensive side but worth every penny in my opinion. I’ve included some photos from that tour below. I got to see every inch of that 747, inside and out. I don’t think you get to do that anywhere else.
The small tour group I was part of had the added bonus of having a pilot who flew both the 747-200 AND the 707. How lucky is that? It was great to have him provide insights into both aircraft and hear about  some of the antics the crew used to get up to. Gene, our guide was fantastic as well and very generous with his time – he really knows his stuff and had everyone interested and engaged throughout the whole tour which went for a few hours. 
The Museum itself is great. It is very successful at conveying what a difference aviation has made to this part of the world. One of my favourite stories is the following one. I think what appeals to me is that it illustrates simple and effective problem solving - and it's kinda funny (It is copied from one of the exhibits):
Isolation forced many bush people to deal with their own emergencies. Calling a doctor was a serious business, never taken lightly.
One Muttaburra hotel-keeper sometimes found his patrons apparently dead. Their breathing was infrequent and very faint, reflexes were absent and there was no response even to painful stimulation. But the publican had a reliable test for whether the doctor was really needed. He shook the apparently dead one vigorously and shouted in his ear, “Have a drink.” If there was no response at all, the publican called the doctor.
The boys headed off this morning. What a great time we had together.   

The Falke on the apron (on its own at the back) taken from the inside of the 747

This is the oxygen for passengers should it be required. The masks that drop down in the cabin for ALL OF THE PASSENGERS comes out of these 7 (that's right 7!) tanks.
The lever to wind up the nosewheel manually - now which way is up? I can never remember.

This is straight up the guts of the tailplane. These are the cables that operate the rudder, elevator and trim. Just like in the Falke, really.

Gotta love the DC-3

Just like the old days? This man used to fly this plane.

Gene taking us through the 747's systems

Ignition off?

A bit roomier than the Falke, but too many buttons and dials
Out on the wing of the 747-200. How good is that!