Morning Glory Cloud

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why the Stand by You Cancer Foundation?

You had cancer. That's how you want to find out: Had. Not have, Had. That's how I found out. How lucky am I! They found it when they took my thyroid out due to Graves Disease. It's all gone now. The thyroid and the cancer.

I wasn't as lucky a few weeks later when I was retrenched from work. Thank goodness it wasn't the other way around! I'm also very fortunate to have a wonderful, loving and supporting husband who was there for me all the way through. As I was recovering, I couldn't help but think of the many people who are not so lucky and have to live with cancer or with a loved one who has cancer. I wanted to do something to try and help a little bit.

I lost much of my fitness due to Graves Disease so fun runs were not really an option, but I liked the idea of doing something fun for a cause. I could not resist stepping up the 'fun' bit to another level and going straight to the top of my 'bucket list' (the list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket). Having been a glider pilot for 13 years, a trip to the Gulf of Carpenteria to 'cloud surf' along a rare cloud called Morning Glory was what I had always dreamed of. So with the encouragement and support of my husband & friends and a green light from the doctors, I decided I would give it a go.

I chose the Stand by You Cancer Foundation as my fundraising cause for this trip because of all those who find out that they have cancer. Those who really need someone to stand by them. The funds raised are used for a range of different needs such as childcare while attending chemo treatments, specialist bandages, wigs etc. etc. When I met with CiCi, Robyn and Mike from the Foundation, they told me a bit about how the foundation provides support to those living with cancer. I was struck by how much day to day activities can be up ended by this terrible illness. Things that don't come to mind until you really have a think about it. I hope my fundraising efforts can help make life a bit more bearable and maybe even provide a bit of inspiration.
All the funds I'm raising are going to the Foundation, not to me. I am funding all the expenses for the trip myself (see what I mean about having a fabulously supportive husband!) For the small effort taken to set up the donation page, adding the fundraising element to the trip is adding to the pleasure of doing it, knowing I can help people simply doing what I love to do, fly. Also importantly, as I fly above some of the most remote places on the planet, your comments of support will ensure that I'm never on my own. Thanks for that!

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Gadget

I received my new SPOT tracker this week and started playing around with it. It is pretty amazing little device. SPOT is a mobile phone sized device that allows satellite tracking. You set it up online beforehand with contact details of who you want to send messages to. Then when you're on your journey, you can send messages with your GPS coordinates saying you're on track or whatever. The really cool bit is that it displays where you've sent the messages from on a map online. You can see how I drove from Melbourne to Wangaratta this morning on this image. The messages that get sent to your registered contacts include a link to this map. The map can also be displayed publicly to everyone, which is what I'll be doing on the trip. So you guys can track my progress along the way. How cool is that!
Other than being incredibly cool, it also includes a help button and and emergency button. I'll also be carrying an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Becon or EPIRB (thanks for the loan, Andrew!) so I'll be findable wherever I end up.  In case you're wondering why I don't you just use a mobile phone, have a look at your provider's coverage maps and compare to my route. Hint: coverage percentage relates to population, not to geography.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Rain

There has been more rain across Victoria, thwarting my efforts to go flying.  I left Melbourne with blue skies and light winds. The cloud was on the deck from Kilmore all the way up to here (Wangaratta). Managed to get off the ground and did an hour + of forced landing practice before the rain started up again.  It did get me thinking of job prospects when I come back from the trip. Maybe I could offer 'rain making' services to drought stricken farmers. You could also pay me to stay away from the vicinity of any weather dependant outdoor activity. Any takers? Of course, I will need to come up with a flashy title for this much needed role.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's been a bit wet

Water everwhere over central Victoria
I was flying around Victoria today with my husband, Phil. There is water everywhere! It is such a change after so many years of relatively dry winters. It's more like it was when I first came to Australia in the 1990's. Back then we were gliding out of Locksley Field in central Victoria and used to refer to the airstrip as 'Lake Locksley' During the winter months. Ducks used to land on the water on the cross strip. No kidding! We pretty much had to shut down for a few months over winter. One visitor from the UK, who used to come to fly here in summer, could not believe how the dusty dry airfield he would see in summer could possibly be so wet in winter. We'd send him photos of the ducks on the cross strip.

Today we caught up with some of the old Locksley crowd at Wahring, near Nagambie. It was so good to see them. It has been too long. It was a bit like the old days at Locksley, from which I have very fond memories. Unfortunately, the airfield was also a bit like old times - very, very wet. We bogged the Motor Falke out the front of the hangar. It took all of us to get it out of the soft mud. Yuk!.Thanks guys for your help! Luckily the strip was ok (well, enough of it was ok!) also glad I managed not to get it bogged before we took off.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Route Up

The route I will be taking goes right through the outback. It is based on the route taken in 2009 by Andrew Rigby and Ian Patching from VMFG (thanks guys!). One of the main influences for the route is of course the fuel stops - will have to keep feeding that iron thermal up the front!

Will be departing Melbourne (more info on that coming soon) and heading up through Tocumwal and Griffith (fuel stop) to spend the 1st night in Lake Cargelligo. Day 2 goes through Cobar to Bourke. The 3rd day will take me to Charleville via Cunnamulla. Day 4 to Longreach via Blackall. I'll spend the next day visiting the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach then back in the air on day 6 to Cloncurry via Winton. Finishing off the week with the flight to Burketown.

I'll be spending 3 weeks in Burketown then heading back down. Hopefully I'll be lucky and the Morning Glory will appear at least once in those 3 weeks.
I'll post the return route a bit later.

I've kept the legs relatively short to leave some time to have a look around each of these places and maybe even switch off the fan and do some gliding if the conditions are right.

If you've got any suggestions on where to stay along this route, please let me know. I've picked out accommodation (favouring proximity to the airport) but haven't booked anything yet except for the Savannah Lodge at Burketown. I'll have my tent, but would prefer something more comfortable providing it's affordable. The weather being what it is, I'm also leaning towards doing last minute bookings to avoid any cancellation fees should murphy or the weather prevent me from progressing to plan.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One month to go!

There just one month to go before the planned departure date of September 18th. Very exciting! The donation page is now set up on What a great site! I recommend it to anyone who wants to raise money for a cause. It's really easy to use and best of all, there is no admin for me, they deal directly with Stand By You Cancer Foundation, the cause I am raising money for (as well as hundreds of others). You can't use your own background image so I had to pick from the ones on offer, which is kind of funny because the one I found the most relevant to a flying adventure is actually designed for a tribute. I think it works anyway.

There is still so much that needs to happen before I'm ready to go. I've allowed for 'unforeseen' delays in the planning within reason, but some things like the weather and bureaucracy just can't be helped. That's life!