ARCHERFIELD TO BROOMEMonday 1st April, 2002
After an emotional farewell (some of the family are thinking that this may not be such a good idea), I am on my way around the world in my Bonanza. The weather is "fine and beaut" thanks to Bob Bates (Mother Goose to PNG Safari people) and now volunteer webmaster.
Not a lot of sleep last night with all of the compulsory last minute concerns about whether or not I will get off the ground. I seem to have a lot of extra stuff on board plus the 870 litres of fuel required for the flight.
After all of the preparations I have made, I still have things to sort out in the cockpit. The "Spare Air" gets in my way getting aboard and the coffee machine still blows the circuit breaker. But things are finding their places and I am starting to settle down for the 12 hour flight to Broom.
Landing just before dark, still I find things to sort out. Some of the "special" knots fastening the emergency equipment have come loose, the emergency VHF is squawking in the life jacket pocket (after squashing it) and my leg has cramp. Apart from those few things, I had a great flight. I think Alice Springs Tower was a little puzzled at a Bonanza going passed him without landing.
Two PNG safari contacts were made on the flight. David and Kylie Rampa were returning home and Theo and Jenny Seymour were parked next to me at Broome.
time: 11.08 hrs.
Distance flown: 1814 NM.
Fuel used: 529 litres
Average ground speed: 166.43 kts
Average fuel consumption: 47.74 litres per hour
I slept like a log for three hours then the usual early waking wondering if I will be able to get and then understand the weather.
Tuesday 2nd April, 2002
The satellite picture for the leg to Christmas Island looks bad so I decide to go back to sleep. Since it is my 60th birthday, who cares? Later, I fixed some of the hiccups and slept some more.
Wednesday 3rd April, 2002
BROOME TO CHRISTMAS ISLAND
The weather forecast looks marginal and all of the stress levels are active.
Wide awake, I start on the last minute details and depart in the dark at 4 am local time. Enroute it is not too bad with only a few heavy build ups.
It was nice to hear a friendly voice on the HF radio. Ron Dunn (Watts Bridge friend) was on duty at Brisbane FS.
In the murk approaching Christmas Island was an Australian Hercules and Ray Clamback on a ferry flight. To the other two, everything seemed normal. To me it was another very real instrument approach to minimums.
Christmas Island would be a great place for a holiday. Almost no phones and no taxi or public transport. After a big walk trying to find things, I slept again forever.
Flight time: 7.5 hrs.
Distance flown:1061 NM.
Fuel used: 298 litres
Average ground speed: 141.5 kts
Average fuel consumption: 39.5 litres per hour
Thursday 4th April, 2002
Another rest day due to poor weather. All I have to do is ponder the weather and try to determine the better route for tomorrow. The local met man (David) has been very helpful and I joined he and his family at the local "cultural centre" for lunch.
The mandatory city tour of Christmas Island revealed many old Chinese buildings and I was surprised to how many homes were on the island. The Met officer was kind enough to let me use their communication system for e-mails.
Friday 5th April, 2002
CHRISTMAS ISLAND TO SRI LANKA
A 2 am start to meet the met man (David) at 3 am. Weather looks OK (for the tropics) and I decide to get going.
The Brisbane Flight Service man gets my gong for the week. He was most unhelpful. Just what I needed when the stress levels were running at an all time high. I could not remember whether my equipment was "S" or "G", and hoped that he could tell me what to put on the international flight form.
The flight started badly with a very black night, heavy plane and stressed. I quickly remembered the rules about departing into "The black hole" by staying on the instruments.
It turned out to be a huge flight. Almost 15 hours of ducking and weaving weather. Spent a lot of time at 1000 ft to get below the headwind. At times I struggled with the temptation to land alongside what looked like a real friendly boat.
Jakarta and Colombo did not seem too worried about my reporting "ops normal".
Later in the flight I lost contact on the HF and spent lots of time trying to make contact. It was a bit off putting not to be able to get anyone on the emergency frequency 121.5 or the area VHF. Very lonely. (As the trip progressed, I learned to not get stressed when the flight service unit did not respond. I am sure that they do not listen all of the time. I learned to wait until they called me. And although I tried many times, not once did I receive a response on 121.5 on the whole trip, this is different than what happened a few years ago. I could always raise someone on the emergency frequency. So my advise is to get the new type 406 MHZ ELT)
Flight time: 14.75 Hours
Distance flown: 1869 NM
Fuel used: 670 Litres
Average ground Speed: 126.7 kts
Average fuel consumption: 45.4 litres per hour
Approaching Sri Lanka was a wall of Thunderstorm's and I had sufficient fuel reserves to circumnavigate for an approach from the East.1.5 hours taxi ride into Colombo for a well deserved beer and big sleep.
Saturday 6th April, 2002
I am sure that Sri Lankan Airlines had their entire staff try to find the problem with the HF radio. Many experts picked and poked and eventfully, one of them declared that the problem was fixed, despite the total lack of acknowledgement from any Flight Service unit. This clever person called the very same people but gave a Sri Lankan call sign. Halleluiah, a reply loud and clear. So it seemed like the HF radio was OK but no problem was found.
Next was to refuel. Only barrels of AVGAS was available and 5 or 6 helpers tried to pump 600 litres into TYE with faulty pumps and equipment. They said the last time they used this equipment was about one and a half years earlier. I guess that's why it cost $US 1 per litre. I took 3 barrels.
All worked out OK and the "Ramp" boss assured me many times that he would give me good service for the departure tomorrow. I knew that this "good service" was going to cost a lot.