Can you believe this! We’ve been saying for days now that we have “one flying day to go”. After being fogged in at Aldinga yesterday, I really thought today was going to be it.
Well, we got a little over an hour further south east & we still have “one flying day to go”. This is so extremely frustrating!
The rest of the team members have people who’ve traveled great distances waiting to welcome them in Melbourne. I always knew that these southern legs would be difficult with the changeable weather but you never really comprehend how difficult, until you experience it.
We left Aldinga a little after 8 am. I was hoping to track down to Cape Jervis, the most southern point of the Adelaide area, but this was thick with fog again. The only way we could get out was to track directly over the ranges toward Goolwa.
Once I got up in the air & could see the cloud around 1000 feet above the mountain range, I felt a sense of relief come over me as I knew we were out & on our way home again.
As I traveled along the coast at 2,500 feet, I passed the Murray River mouth, & could see the coastline far into the distance. As I continued to track along Younghusband Peninsula toward Salt Creek, the cloud base got a little lower which made me descend to 1,500 feet.
Now & then, I encountered some low wispy cloud & as we passed Salt Creek, it got more frequent – this was not a good sign.
Paul & Josh in the Piper Archer were in front of me & as I approached Kingston SE, all I could see was a large fog bank just beyond the town. I radioed Paul for what his position was & he said, about 2 miles south of Kingston SE & he was turning around as cloud was down to the ground.
I knew there was going to be no way through it, so I headed to the north west to see if it was possible to get around it.
After a couple of miles, I realised, there was no possible way through & as I turned to my left, I noticed Kingston SE airfield. It was a nice bitumen strip, so what better place to land & wait for the fog to pass.
Paul did the same in the Piper Archer & I radioed the Piper Lance who were about 20 miles ahead & they turned back to join us at Kingston SE.
For the next 1.5 hours, I sat in my aircraft, sipping on my pre-mixed cappucino as we waited to see if a passage through the cloud/fog would open up. As I sat there, I was shivering, so Bob grabbed me a beanie & a sleeping bag to rug me up & keep me warm.
The weather appeared to look a little better so we all saddled up & the Piper Archer & I, took off first to head home. As I took off to the north, climbing to 1,500 feet, I turned to track south. But, all I could see in the distance was banks of low cloud reaching the ground. I headed north a little to see if there was any passage through, but it was futile.
The last thing I wanted to do was fly around these cloud banks & then find I had no where to go & then having to turn around to re-trace my path. This could leave me closed in with no way out. Not a good place to be.
By this time, Paul in the Piper Archer, was up in the air & he confirmed to the Piper Lance on the ground that it was a no-go. Grounded again. We parked the planes & I got out.
We were very lucky that Brian Harris, a local flyer from the Kingston Flying Club, happened to be there. He opened up the club house & we got heaters going to try to warm me up. I enjoyed chatting to him as he told me the story of his big adventure, flying solo in a Drifter Aircraft up through Central Australia, in the late 80’s, when ultralights were just new on the scene.
For the next 3 hours, we sat around, waiting to see if the weather would improve.
Thanks to Susan Brice for coming down to the airfield & meeting us when she heard we were there. She took Bob & Josh to the shops to get us some takeaway & we had great fish & chips for lunch – perfect when you are feeling cold! She also provided her sandwich toaster so we could toast our sandwiches. Thanks Susan!
By 2pm, things weren’t improving. We had 3 options left for today as it was far too late to get home: fly to Mt Gambier, fly to Naracoorte, or stay for the night at Kingston SE.
Michael took my jab up for a quick inspection & said there were showers down along the coast to the south toward Mt Gambier, but to the north west, in the direction of Naracoorte, it looked okay. However, with Naracoorte, being prone to fog, we didn’t want to risk getting stuck there tomorrow. Also, the aim of this flight is to go coastal as much as possible, so this option wasn’t the ideal.
Michael checked with the forecaster for the area & they said tomorrow is likely to be better with only a 5% chance of fog. That decided it for us. Tonight we would stay in Kingston SE & head off early again tomorrow morning for our “one flying day to go”, hopefully.
Off to the pub for a quick meal & early to bed.
Over & out,