Woohoo! We finally got out of Ingham! Very nice people but we just wanted to get going on our trip around Australia. The weather this morning looked better, the cloud was a little higher than other days, which gave us some confidence that we just might be able to get out!
We arrived at the airfield at 7.30 am & had a team briefing & agreed to try the coastal route north up to Cooktown as this looked like a reasonable option. The showers had diminished significantly. However there was still a lot of shower activity but it was manageable.
When you are used to flying around Melbourne, where the weather can be pretty ordinary, you get used to flying in these type of conditions.
We headed up the canal between Hinchinbrook Island & the mainland. These islands develop their own weather patterns because of the high mountains, making it unpredictable.
There was a thick blanket of cloud at 1500 feet. We could see showers in the distance coming across our path. Michael in the Piper Lance Support Plane gave us updates over the radio of the actual weather conditions ahead. Paul was behind me in the Piper Archer Support Plane checking out the online weather radar on his iPad, giving us the areas to watch out for.
Communication in these situations is of high importance, to know where other aircraft are, but also to know what is happening ahead. This gives you good situational awareness, making it safer & easier for flying. I encountered a number of showers along the way & had to drop to 500 feet occasionally to ensure I had good visibility of the coastline ahead.
Innisfail had experienced high rainfall in the last few days but as I past this area, I was fortunate to have a clear run & avoid any heavy showers. The further we tracked north, the weather improved. As I past Cairns, I had to fly about 9 miles off shore to avoid controlled airspace. The inland route had cloud & looked rather perilous – out to sea looked much better anyway.
The further north I went, the clouds disappeared, opening up to blue sky. I was making very good time, traveling with a ground speed of around 138 knots, although indicated airspeed was only 115 knots.
When flying in wind, as you go around mountains, you really need to take care as you get a lot of rotor & it can get pretty bumpy at times (as I experienced in Airlie Beach). I also experienced a lot of this today.
One thing I learnt about Cooktown today from the locals is that it always blows at around 30 knots, 9 months of the year, morning, noon & night. It was a relief to finally see Cooktown in the distance – after we had been trying to get there for 3 days.
With the wind, it was an interesting landing with lots of bumps & you really had to be “on your toes” on final approach as there can be a lot of wind sheer. I didn’t feel worried but you always need to be cautious.
Touchdown in Cooktown… finally (3 days late)
We were undecided whether we might continue on to Weipa today but when we landed we decided it would be best to stay in Cooktown tonight & have an early day as the trip to Weipa will be a long haul. It will also be an important leg as we will achieve our 3rd of our 4 milestones for the trip: we will cross the most northerly point in Australia, Cape York.
Thanks so much to Jill Williams of Endeavour Lions Club in Cooktown who coordinated so much for us – with transport, accommodation & being so kind when our plans kept changing when we were stuck in Ingham. It was great to experience such a warm reception upon our arrival! Thanks Jill!
Good flying, but a new problem!
Soon after we arrived, we noticed a problem… I had a flat tyre. It’s great having resourceful team members. Bob & Michael really got in & worked on changing the tyre.
Firstly, we had to work out how to jack the plane up so we could remove the tyre & check it out. That’s when TEAM WORK really helped (see below). The team lifted the plane wing & we supported it with a ladder & protected the wing with Linda’s yoga mat. I was a bit apprehensive at first using this technique, as I hadn’t seen this done before but the good news is.. the wing didn’t break off & there was no cracking so all looking good.
The tyre was fine, we just needed to replace the tube. Thanks so much to Tony Lickiss who kindly took Bob into town with the tyre to a tyre repair shop & managed to replace the tube. We were so lucky as we were struggling to get the tyre off & it would have taken us hours.
Tony Lickiss is Director of Engineering Services of Cook Town Shire Council & also president of the Lions Club. Tony also helped us, along with Jill, with our transportation to our motel. Thanks Tony!
We ended the day with a great dinner at Cooktown Bowls Club with Jill & I highly recommend the barramundi!
On a different note, I’ve got audio in my plane!
With so much to get done before leaving, I was really hoping I could get audio set up through my internally mounted GoPro camera. Although it looked like it would be easy, it wasn’t as simple as we thought. Linda got in contact with Michael Coates from XCOM Avionics, the week before we left & Michael very kindly sent us a GoPro Aviation Headset Cable Adaptor by XCOM Avionics.
If anyone wants to record audio from your aviation headset into a GoPro camera, this is what you want! The audio is awesome & you can hear everything that goes on with the intercom. Thanks so much to Michael for his advice & for sending this cord to us. Unfortunately we didn’t get it before we left but we got it sent on & after some modifications to the waterproof housing (i.e. making a hole so we could plug in the audio cord), we now have it operational!
That’s it for tonight!
Over & out,