I was looking forward to ticking off another leg & getting closer to home. When we looked at the weather forecast this morning at about 5.30 am & chatted about it over breakfast, it wasn’t looking too flash but at the time, it looked doable. However, we’d have to dodge showers & thunderstorms.
Originally, we were intending to land at Truscott to refuel however after we found out there was a $600 landing fee per aircraft, that option evaporated very quickly. I had spoken to them last year about fuel & there was no mention of the exorbitant landing fee.
Obviously this high fee is used as a deterrent. Our next option was Kalumburu. Kalumburu Community is the northernmost settlement in Western Australia, formerly known as Drysdale River Mission. Luckily they had some fuel so we decided to make this our revised refueling stop.
We said our good-byes to Tony Stevenson & Graham Sears from FESA & naturally, we all thought, we’d never see them again, well, not for awhile anyway. We departed at about 8.30 am for a direct track to Kalumburu. We knew there was a thunderstorm band south of Kalumburu but avoiding it looked doable as we could track out to the coast.
We tracked 30 min out of Kununurra & then Michael got a revised weather report for the Kalumburu area & there was a SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Information) issued – thunderstorms & significant rain ahead.
As soon as we heard this, Paul got onto his iPad & looked up the weather radar & confirmed it was looking pretty nasty. Immediately all pilots knew what to do – there was no choice – we each turned our aircrafts 180 degrees & headed back to Kununurra for tonight.
I had a feeling this was going to happen. As we were flying you could almost watch the clouds build up in the high heat. Tomorrow we will have get going earlier & may have to track direct to Derby to avoid this unseasonal weather we are experiencing – this is meant to be the dry season in which you would expect clear sunny skies. Even the locals are saying this is strange this year.
Again, as we flew back into Kununurra, Tony Stevenson was so kindly there to greet us again & helped us with transportation from the airfield back to the same accommodation as last night. Thanks so much Tony!
Before we took off from Kununurra today, I was fortunate to meet up with great people from Air North. Thanks to Trent Robertson, Sami Hay & Tim Stanley for dropping by for a chat! Trent had heard me on a podcast with Plane Crazy Down Under so it was great to meet up.
Again we are staying at the Kimberley Grande Hotel. We are very grateful to both the Kimberley Grande for discounting the rooms & to the volunteers of FESA for helping us with the cost of accommodation on this second, unexpected night here.
I’m hoping the weather improves tomorrow to allow us to continue on our journey. Each time we get delayed, it creates a lot of work for base support (my parents, Brian & Roberta) & also for Linda (my wife & project coordinator).
Getting to bed very early tonight as it looks like I will need to be up at 3 am so we can leave earlier tomorrow & try to get to Derby.
Over & out,