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 APRIL - MAY 2002         

Pilot: Bill Finlen
Aircraft: Bonanza VH-TYE

The thought that I could fly my Bonanza around the world came many years ago.

My flying "hobby" started with models then gliders and progressed to power flying in about the mid 80's.

It did not take long for me to  realise that my Bonanza was capable of better things than local flights and soon I was off to New Zealand , Papua New Guinea and other South Pacific Islands .

The real test came in 1995 when  I met two German pilots (Juergen   and Gunter), flying V-tail Bonanza's (just like mine) around the world.  A third Bonanza, also like mine, ditched off Marshal Islands and the Australian Navy rescued the Pilot, Horst.

That did not deter the Bonanza lovers and in 2000 I joined Juergen and flew with him across the Atlantic from his hometown in Germany to Oshkosh USA via Iceland and Greenland .

At the Oshkosh meeting, I was fortunate to attend the inaugural meeting if the "Earthrounders" Association and shortly after the meeting, I set the date for my very own ATW trip so I could qualify for membership to that very prestigious group.  I set the date to leave Australia on my 60th birthday  - 2 April 2002 .

So the date was set and the planning commenced.

My place was prepared with some new equipment and in particular the long range fuel system.  That system and my own "systems" were tested  on a return flight to Perth and on    that flight broke or created three world records for the class.  So I knew that my plane could do the job and that I was also able to  handle the long flights.  Over the next 12 months or so, my work suffered as I prepared for the flight.  Things like good quality survival  gear were hard to come by.  Having talked to Horst at great length about his rescue, I realised  that flying a single engine plane around the world had risks and a ditching was a very real possibility. I wanted the best survival equipment I could afford.

So the plane was ready and my birthday was approaching fast.

All I had left was to finalise the route and directions of flight.

I talked to lots of people about the more favourable winds etc and in the end, opted to fly west and take advantage of the longer daylight.  Some flights were made with an extra 3 hours of available daylight.  I wanted to arrive in daylight when customs etc would be easier to manage meaning I would need to take off well before sunrise.

Because the family has arrived for my departure and it was more convenient, I departed 1 day early - the 1st April 2002 .  It just happened to be "Aprils Fools Day" and the start of an adventure that I could never forget!