Well, we’re almost ready to go and the past few days have been hectic. We took the plane for a final test flight over Kansas and I’m glad to report there was no problem.
Said goodbye to Wichita and headed for the west coast. What a flight 50 knots on the nose and a ride that got Jim saying it was, “real bad turbulence”. We made it through but had to climb to 12500 to clear terrain dust storms.
The flight to Oakland took us over the desert in Arizona and we finally arrived in California. The plane was fantastic; she was solid and flew well. No question she has already cemented a place in my heart! The great thing is that I have no reason to doubt the plane and that is a real confidence boost.
Got to California and entered a flurry of activity. Long range tanks, life rafts, clearance exports and all the new anti terrorism paperwork that now exists. Jim and I are well known now to the various authorities. Getting this done is a real relief.
We’ve been doing a fair bit of media. Went to San Francisco to promote the RFDS on Ch7 ‘Sunrise’ and have another TV show tomorrow. So we’re nearly ready and I’m awaiting the final test flight to prove the tank and the HF radio. Following in the footsteps of the early pioneers has given me plenty of food for thought, I’ve felt the history of aviation on this trip. What emotions were running through the minds of the crew of the Southern Cross on this spot 83 years ago?
Unlike Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, we take off from the quiet airport of Hollister. Oakland, San Francisco has changed from open farmland back in 1928 when ‘Smithy’ used it, to a busy international airport surrounded by densely populated suburbs.
Our plane is filled to the brim with highly flammable fuel for the 3805 km leg to Hawaii, and a crash in a built up area would be catastrophic. Our risk management strategy dictates that we avoid unnecessary danger to the public.
For Jim this is all in a day’s work but from what I have seen this much more than a regular job.
I am filled with excitement and I am ready.
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