It was a relief to see the forecast at 6 am this morning. It didn’t look as bad as what was forecast the previous night. The weather gods must be looking out for us.
Today’s departure was a little later because the Murrayfield Airfield gates would not be open until 8 am, which delayed us half an hour more than expected.
During our stopover in Mandurah, I’d like to thank Andrew Eldridge, President of Royal Aero Club of WA, Jake Sanders, President of the Curtin Flying Club & David Currey, CEO/CFI of the Royal Aero Club of WA for all their support.
Today was always going to be a long day of flying – around 5.5 hours. It felt good to be getting going again. As we prepared our aircraft, the weather continued to improve leaving blue sky.
We tracked south along the coast to Busselton, rounded Cape Naturaliste & continued coastal to our refuelling & lunch stop of Albany.
It’s amazing how the coastline changes. Not long ago, everything was red with mud flats & mangroves, but flying along the coast to Albany, it was now rugged coastline & green, green & more green! However, on a downside for me, we are now back in colder parts of Australia.
When I arrived at the Albany Airport, I was starving & cold & just wanted to get a coffee & food. But there was business first.
A reporter & camera man from GWN7 were waiting for me. I just heard that I was on the local news tonight. The link is here.
We had a good flight to Albany with the weather – only having to dodge a couple of showers. Michael called the forecaster & he’d said the front had moved past Esperance, leaving a few showers here & there.
Just after leaving Albany, I could see the showers in the distance. All you can do, in this situation, is pick the best path & go around them if possible.
This strategy was working fine until we got to Hopetoun where the showers became more intense. The only way to get passed them was to go inland about 8 mile – they extended too far out to sea.
Apart from having to fly down to 1000 feet at times, it wasn’t too much of an issue. It just meant we had more flying time. As we approached Esperance, I could hear Bob ahead saying that it looked pretty ordinary toward the airport.
However, as Bob flew further & approached the town, he seemed to be passed the front & advised us that it was all clear to the airport. I followed about 20 min later but by this time, the mass of cloud & rain had moved much closer to Esperance Airport.
When I rounded the front of weather, I had very limited time to get my aircraft on the ground before the rain hit. With a bit more throttle to get to the airfield quicker, & keeping an eye on the front, I landed just as the rain started beading on my windscreen.
As the rain bucketed down, we were met by David Ford, Dick Welbon & Dave Wohling. While we waited for the rain to pass, we were lucky to see a pretty amazing sight – a double rainbow formed just over the planes.
We’d also like to greatly thank Andy Burns, who couldn’t make it, but who so kindly donated fuel for all 3 aircraft at Esperance.
I was surprised to see a past colleague at the airport: Joe Mansell & a friend of his, who was in a wheelchair. They came to say “Hi”. Unfortunately, as we had landed late & needed to take off before the light faded & fly to our accommodation, I could only chat to them very briefly. Hope we can come back again with more time to chat.
Our 3 planes took off from Esperance Airport & followed David Ford to his property where he has a great airstrip, hanger & house. I want one!
Thanks so much to David & Jen Ford for being so kind in providing all of us with accommodation, meals & hangarage for my Jabiru for tonight. Jen made us all a great dinner & it was really fun having the opportunity to meet some really nice local people. Thanks so much David & Jen!
We have planned to get up early tomorrow & leave by 7 am. We have a very long day ahead, especially as we will lose 1.5 hours as we head east into South Australia. Our final destination for tomorrow night is the Nullabor Hotel. Has anyone stayed there?
Over & out,