Dave Jacka

Day 38 – We finally made it!

Home at last! The only thing I could think about today was getting home. This is all that was on everyone else’s mind too. If we didn’t get home today, with the weather that is coming, we probably wouldn’t get home for another week.

With the high passing over us, there was plenty of wind, so today there was no fog, which was great. Checking the weather forecast at 6 am, indicated good weather & reasonably high cloud around 3,500 feet. This all meant we had a good chance of getting home today.

We went down to the airfield at 7 am & we quickly got the planes prepared. I wasn’t going to last long in the bitter cold that we were experiencing today. While I did my checks on my plane, the wind just penetrated my body to the core.

Getting ready to go on a cold morning in Kingston SE, SA.

Before I got in the plane I was already cold. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with today if I couldn’t heat up.

We got up in the air by 8 am, & as I climbed to 2,500 feet, I was pleasantly surprised with the smooth air & the fantastic tailwind. I had a tailwind of about 25 knots which gave me a ground speed of 138 knots – I was flying!

The aircrafts were low in fuel as Kingston SE didn’t have any so we tracked coastal to our original planned refuel stop of Portland (VIC).

I was a little concerned at Portland because the weather forecast said the wind would be gusting to 25 knots but as I came in, it was fairly light & straight down the strip – so it was not a problem. The team rushed me out of the aircraft & got me into the Portland Aero Club house, plugged in my trusty heater & I sat there in front of it warming up & eating a cup-a-soup followed by noodles for the next 1.5 hours. I hate the cold!

Thanks to Peter Tapscott, President of the Portland Aero Club, for donating a tank of fuel for my aircraft & providing a warm spot for us during our Portland stop.

As I was about to leave a local reporter came down & I quickly had an interview & got photos taken for their local paper. Then into the plane, as we had to leave by 11.30 am so we could make it to Tooradin by 1.30 pm – our final stop.

Up in the air again, the tailwind was still there, so I rocketed toward home, passing the Twelve Apostles, & then rounding Cape Otway. As I passed Cape Otway, a strong north wind coming over the mountains was generating rotor & I was being battered around by the rough air. I was having flash backs to Airlie Beach.

Flying over the Twelve Apostles.

All I could do was slow the aircraft down a bit & hang on. I was so glad once I was passed the mountains, the air smoothed out & I could see familiar landmarks. I knew I was going to make it home.

For this last leg, both support aircrafts stuck with me as we flew towards Tooradin. Just after crossing Port Phillip Bay heads towards Rosebud, I could hear the Tooradin traffic on the radio – I was almost home.

Port Phillip Bay Headlands.

As I approached Phillip Island, I gave a call to Dan, one of the instructors at Tooradin, just to let him know that I was coming in with the 2 support aircrafts & that we’d like to do a low-level pass to celebrate completion of our journey around Australia.

As I lined up for my final approach to Tooradin, I could see all these yellow things in the distance. As I got closer, I realised that there were lots of people with yellow balloons. The sight was really amazing.

The yellow balloons & people at Tooradin to greet me.

I throttled up, climbed, turned right & then joined downwind to come in for my final landing of the trip. There was a little bit of turbulence when I came in but this all settled just before my wheels touched down. I planted my wheels on the ground. I had made it!

I was so surprised by the number of people who were there. The Channel 7 film crew wanted to get a shot of me taxiing down the runway so I had to taxi back onto the runway, do a 180 & taxi back toward the camera. The trip was now definitely over.

As I shut the engine down, I felt a sense of relief. I’d achieved my huge goal after 6 years of planning. It was fantastic to be met by the crowd, with family & friends & also people who had been following my journey who I had never met before.

After all the photos, & interviews, I had time to meet & chat to people who had made the effort to come & see me.

Arriving into Tooradin.

This has been a remarkable journey over the last 6 years, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, about other people, made mistakes & had successes. The flight itself, was amazing, at times I loved it, hated it, it challenged both my skills & physical endurance, but more than anything, it was tougher mentally.

To all of you who have followed & taken the time to write comments & shown your support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. At times when I was finding it difficult, & I wondered why I was doing this, it was your support & the support of my family & friends who helped give me a boost when I needed it.

Even though I was a solo pilot, it has been the flight team who have made this trip possible. As I got to know each member over the last 38 days, I greatly appreciate what a dedicated & amazing group of people they are. Each member brought a different skill set, view & energy to the team. If it wasn’t for them, this would not have been possible. This is a team’s success, not an individual’s success.

Thanks to all the OWC Flight Team.

From this flight, I’ve become the first quadriplegic to fly solo around the coast of Australia. However, more than this, I hope we have achieved what we set out toΒ – to raise the publics expectations about what people with disabilities can achieve & provide inspiration for all, to get out & have a go at their own dreams & goals.

Over & out – for the final blog for the On a Wing & a Chair Around Australia Flight.

Dave.

64 thoughts on “Day 38 – We finally made it!”

  1. Congratulations Dave, Linda and the Support Crew !!! You did it !!! It’s great to read about all the yellow balloons when you arrived back in Tooradin.. ( made me cry it’s so beautiful ). You are a true Australian Aviation Pioneer Dave !!! I am so proud of you and what you have achieved, you have inspired me to follow my dreams … As you said .. ” The only thing that stops you from doing what you want to do is yourself ” …. Thanks Dave xxoo I am so glad to have met both you and Linda and the Crew.

    Mary Ganly
    not far from Aldinga Aerodrome S.A πŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thanks for your support & for following the journey. It was good to meet you at Aldinga & Bill liked his girlfriend, Amelia Bearhart. Thanks for the gift.
      Cheers, Dave.

  2. Congratulations Dave, the team and Bill on sharing all the photos, blogs, spider tracks, inspiration and fantastic achievements of the last 5 weeks… We are all richer for it…. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Julie,
      I really appreciate all your support from the beginning. It was great to have you along with us on the journey.
      See you at Tooradin soon, Dave.

  3. HUGE congratulations to you and the team Dave! Such an amazing accomplishment! An inspiration! Without a doubt you’ve changed public perception about what people with a spinal injury can do. Before today it was not possible for a quadriplegic to fly solo around Australia. Dave you are the first to prove that’s not the case! More importantly because of people like you paving the way I’m confident you won’t be the last! You are an inspiration to all of us Dave! THANK YOU for sharing this amazing journey with us!

  4. Awesome achievement Dave & support crew.
    So glad to see you have finally completed your journey.
    You truly are an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Denise,
      It was great to meet you in Geraldton! I still want to go up in your Super Decathlon sometime. What do you think about my next goal? Become an aerobatics pilot??
      Cheers, Dave.

  5. To Dave and your support crew
    Many congrats on your journey have followed from start to finish. What an achievement you have completed, your guts and determination will inspire people with disabilities forever more, I my self am learning to fly with one of your support crew after this you have made me more determined to get my licence. Thank you for sharing an amazing feat your a champion.

    1. Hi Vic,
      Thanks for following along with us & for your support.
      You couldn’t ask for a better instructor to teach you to fly! He got all the way around Australia!
      Cheers, Dave.

  6. Great to see you, Linda and your wonderful support team back home Dave !

    You’ve set the bar high for us mere mortals.

    Rest well and “enjoy the weather this side of the ranges” !

    Hope to see in the skies soon.

    Cheers
    Jonathan

  7. Well done Dave & Team,

    It is a really fantastic achievement – brilliant.

    I have been living vicariously through your trip whilst sat in the comfort of the living room with sick kids and the flu

    Glad you are back home safely – Welcome home!

  8. Well done that man and his team. We will miss logging in to check on you. Let us know when you are off on another adventure.

  9. Huge congratulations Dave and team, what a massive achievement! You definitely have shown what is possible Dave, I have learnt a lot from your example and I thank you for that. Thanks also for your daily blog updates and to Linda for all the Facebook updates, we have never been better informed, it was a lot of work on your part but wonderful for us and very much appreciated. Very early on you said “with an open mind and determination” you will achieve your goal and you did just that, beautifully.

    1. Hi Annie,
      Thanks for your kind words & for all your comments throughout the trip. It was a real challenge doing all the blogging & facebooking during our busy days but I’m glad we were able to bring people along with us on the journey.
      Cheers, Dave.

  10. Awesome in the true sense of the word!
    Well done Dave… It’s been great following your adventure and I know you’ve opened the door for many others to chase their dreams….without limits!

  11. Well done to all the team, and a big congratulations for arriving home safely !….happy to help you all thought the NQld area, so please don’t hesitate to let us know when your coming this way again !!!!!!!…….we can always arrange some touch and goes at Shute Harbor for you Dave. :)…….Well done aviators………..Ross Millard ..Townsville Qld.

    1. Hi Ross,
      Thanks for your help in providing info about the area. I might skip the touch & goes at Shute Harbour. I might get a commercial flight next time into the Whitsundays.
      Hope to see you when Linda & I holiday up that way sometime.
      Cheers, Dave.

  12. Brilliant Dave, just brilliant – as someone who works in the disability field (and a weekend pilot) your achievement is an inspiration to me, my colleagues and the people we work with.

    1. Thanks Rudy for being a very active participant on our journey!
      I really appreciated all your comments throughout the flight around Australia.
      See you at work, Dave.

  13. Congratulations on successfully completing your epic journey around Australia. What an achievement – I have trouble just completing a couple of circuits around Port Macquarie, let alone what you did. Well done!!

  14. Brilliant job! Everyone did a brilliant job and ithe trip has brought out the best in people.
    Made me laugh, made me cry and most of all it is inspiring. Thank you for shining Dave.
    BTW- my other name is lizard queen, I hate the cold too. Possums, llamas and polar bears are the some of the few animals that have hollow fiber, so they are sooooooooo warm. Well the possums are!

  15. Congratulations Dave and the team. It was great to meet you all down at Tooradin yesterday. You all deserve a long rest after your epic journey. Glad you are all home safe and sound.

  16. Congratulations Dave and Crew.
    We are a bit behind you here in the West so I was wrapped up in bed as warm as a bug in a rug while you were finishing your journey. I am a Paraplegic so I fully understand a lot of the problems that you had to face, apart from actually flying the aircraft, which makes what you have done even more epic if I may use that word.
    Cheers
    John

  17. Congratulations to you and your team on your outstanding achievement. Your dedication and courage will be an inspiration to many people, and your ‘never give in’ attitude is to be admired. Enjoy your well deserved rest. Well done!

  18. THE EAGLE HAS LANDED! Congrats Dave and Linda and the support team. You have exemplified the good old Aussie “guts and determination”, and have set a record in the process. We were proud to have been associated with you.
    Evan and the guys from the Aldinga Aero Club

    1. Hi Evan & all members of the Aldinga Aero Club,
      Thanks so much for all your help & support that you gave us especially when we got delayed & had to spend another night there. Linda & I would love to come back to your region again & check out some wineries around McLaren Vale. I’m sure we will catch up again.
      Cheers, Dave.

  19. Well done Dave and crew. The Wynyard Aero Club is grateful that our small part that we did for you helped you achieve your goal and inspire so many to set and achieve their own goals. All of you are welcome at Wynyard any time. Enjoy your well deserved rest. Michael.

    1. Hi Michael & to all members of the Wynyard Aero Club,
      We greatly appreciate all the assistance & support you & your club gave us. I’d love to head down your way again when the weather gets warmer.
      Thanks again, Dave.

  20. Congratulations Dave and all the OWC team.
    It’s a wonderful achievement and an inspiration to all flyers out there.
    Thankyou so much for writing about your experiences and especially how you felt along the way.
    You have been able to bring us all with you on your journey.
    Time for a well earned rest.
    Best wishes
    Sheldon

    1. Hi Sheldon,
      Thanks for following with us. I’m glad you enjoyed my blogs. I’m enjoying a very nice rest before I have to head back to work.
      Cheers, Dave.

  21. Congratulations, Dave and your entire support crew. It’s been an abolute blast for all of us who have followed along. It’s people like you who have the determination to live your dream who give the rest of us the hope and inspiration to work towards living our dreams. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. It really has been fun!

  22. This is such a fantastic achievement. What an inspiration to so many people – disabled or not. Well done to you and your team, you must be so proud.

  23. We’re happy to have you back home safe and sound so you can keep on doing your important work of inspiring people to chase their dreams regardless of apparent hurdles πŸ˜‰ Congratulations on an amazing achievement.

  24. Dave,
    As they said for makybe diva when she went past the post for her third Melbourne Cup victory, “and a champion becomes a legend”. Well thats you now mate – you are a legend. Congratulations to you and Linda and the rest of the “team”. Please call when you are up in
    Bribie next.

    Cheers

    Pete n Carol

  25. Hi Dave

    I have just listened to your UK interview and it was great. The most important message was you can do something if you want too attitude. Hope you are going to do some national interviews like Australian story so more people can hear off your achievement.
    I have re read your blogs and looked at the pictures and it was a really great achievement by you and your team.
    Hope your feet are OK
    Cheers
    Mary

  26. Sorry I could not be there to welcome you home but saw you on the news etc. Clients at our alcohol rehab. clinic have been following the flight so you are already an inspiration to them. Thankyou. When you are ready, after a good rest, love to talk about using your services. Rest up and congratulations. Regards Stephen

  27. Woo hoo!! Congratulations Dave on the amazing achievement of your goal. It has been such an inspiration and lesson in persistence, determination, drive and the importance of having good people in your life. What a special team effort and an absolute delight to read about all the good people who assisted in some way. It’s a credit to the beautiful person you are and the respect we all have for what you are raising awareness of. You’re incredible! What a feat ! So excited for you that you achieved your goal amidst all the dramas and maintained your positivity in keeping your eye on the prize. Your descriptive writing was so enjoyable to read. Can’t wait to catch up and see some more of ur amazing pics. Love to Linda and a big well done to her for her outstanding efforts ! You’re a great team ! Glad to have U home safe! Hope u r snuggled up in a nice warm place. Xx

  28. Hi Dave

    Remember me from your Connells/Aurecon days…

    Great to hear of your adventures flying around Australia – Congratulations to you and your team.

    You’re an inspiration to us able-bodied types as well….

    Cheers Bruce

    1. Hi Bruce, yes I do remember you, Connels was a long time ago. Thanks for your message and for your support, I really appreciate it. hope hings are going well with you.
      Cheers
      Dave

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