I can’t believe the day finally arrived after 5 years of planning. Arriving down at Tooradin this morning to be greeted by the media, family & friends was unbelievable. I felt quite overwhelmed by all the attention & support that people are showing. It took awhile with interviews & good byes & we departed with a fly by over the airfield around 10.30 am & headed south to our first re-fueling stop at Flinders Island.
As we headed out toward Wilsons prom, the cloud base was down to 2,500 feet & we had to dodge light rain showers. It was additionally busy as I was trying to navigate, fly & control the 3 GoPro cameras I have on my plane for the documentary. I think it will take me a bit of time to work out my coordination with all this going on. Leaving the tip of mainland Australia (Wilsons Prom), I was following the path of small islands (rocks) that lead to Flinders Island. One advantage of being so busy in the cockpit was that my anxiety about flying out, especially at low altitude, over Bass Strait was greatly diminished. I was in contact with the 2 support planes as we crossed the water and we all made regular scheduled over-water crossing calls to Melbourne Centre. It was quite reassuring knowing that someone is watching out for you.
As I was crossing Bass Strait, I noticed my oil pressure had dropped lower than usual but it can fluctuate sometimes so I wasn’t too concerned as my other guages were reading normal. It was great to touch down on Flinders Island – felt like a small achievement as it represented the beginning of the adventure.
As I sat in the aircraft waiting for the support team to get me out, Michael said “You’ve got oil pouring out from under your engine”. I felt sick. Did this mean the trip was already over before it even began?
But it’s great to have talented people on your team. Bob & Michael pulled off the cowling to discover the seal on the oil filter was leaking – a lot! They replaced the filter & Michael took it for a hard test run down the strip – it appeared to be working alright. After a quick lunch, we really needed to get going as we would be running out of daylight to get to our final destination of Wynyard, Tas, tonight. I was feeling quite stressed. It’s always a hard decision to go or not.
It was with all this going on, I forgot to plug in the SpiderTracks tracking unit. Thanks to a facebook friend, I got a radio call from the support plane telling me.. had I forgotten something with the tracking system? Yes, I had. This also lead my Dad to have kittens as he thought we were stuck at Flinders Island! We took off & to my relief, my oil pressure gauge was sitting where it normally does. We headed south to Tasmania. The path ahead looked generally clear & sunny. I got the chance to enjoy flying along the northern coastline of Tasmania.
Arrival in Wynyard, Tas
We arrived in Wynyard to a warm reception (despite the cold.. I’m freezing, my legs feel like iceblocks – if I could feel them) from Wynyard Aero Club.
Thanks to president Michael Dykstra for organising an awesome BBQ, transport & accommodation for us all for the night. Thanks also to Michael for organising a LAME (aircraft mechanic) Dale Triffett from Island Air Maintenance who fixed a couple of small problems on my plane. It was great to chat to members of the Wynyard Aero Club.
That’s the update for now, we are absolutely exhausted. We have the rugged western coast of Tassie to deal with tomorrow…gulp!
Over & out,