On Tuesday 19th April we landed in Sydney’s Bankstown Airport, and what a welcome we received. Friends, family, members of our support team, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the media were all there. The support we have received since we made our announcement about our trip last month has been amazing. I would especially like to thank the media for getting behind us, sharing our story and for being so supportive of our cause to raise money for the Flying Doctor.
During the final stages of the flight we flew from Christmas Island to US Samoa to Norfolk Island and then onto Australia. We encountered some bad weather as we embarked on the last leg back to Australia and it was hard flying, however clear skies welcomed us home in the end.
As we flew closer to the NSW coastline and over the beaches, the Channel Ten helicopter flew along side us and accompanied us up to Sydney Harbour before landing at Bankstown Airport.
When we landed and turned the engine off, Jane Austin from the RFDS (General Manager Marketing & Public Relations RFDS South Eastern Section) came over to the plane and said, “I never knew the plane was so small!” This made me laugh as this wonderful plane had carried us so far.
What a trip, what an adventure and what a reason to do it. We hope we have inspired people to follow their dream. We have chosen to support an amazing group of people at the RFDS who are heroes everyday they go to work. We thank everyone for their thoughts, best wishes and their generosity of spirit and kindness.
We received a couple of questions from followers on Facebook about our journey and I wanted to share these questions and my response with you.
Q. How does it feel creating a new part of Australian history? From Marian Slight.
I feel immensely proud to be part of Australia, to be an Australian and to honour Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew as well as the Flying Doctors. I have seen first hand the ocean they flew over. Their courage was staggering given the nature of the aircraft they flew and the time they did it. To support the RFDS on this flight was my reason for doing this and I hope our adventure has inspired and helped.
Q. What was the most challenging part of the flight? What was most memorable? From Charles Ma.
The most challenging part of the flight was facing the unknown. Jim had mentioned to me that a chap had fallen apart on him and said he could not fly over water – I knew I had to face any fears I had and meet the challenge. I met that challenge and was fine especially as I had undergone some training with the Red Alert team.
The hardest part was the heavy load takeoff. When you fly the A36 normally you takeoff at about 70kts. I had to wait until almost 100 knots and then climb so gently to avoid any issues with the aircraft. This is heart in the mouth stuff but after each one my confidence grew and Jim was always quietly guiding me to make sure I got better with each one.
There were also huge challenges getting the plane prepared, addressing the paperwork and obtaining approvals to do certain things. As I had never done it before, it was all new to me.
There have been so many highlights. The beauty of the ocean, the loneliness of being out there, the kindness of so many people along the way, the challenges that had to be overcome were all highlights. Flying with Jim was amazing. His calm, steady guiding nature and pure aviation knowledge are staggering. I can never thank him enough.
Overall, I think the best highlight is being able to inspire people and promote the RFDS. Meeting the pilots, nurses and team at Broken Hill and Dubbo made this experience real in so many ways. The trip we have undertaken is no mean feat, but in their own quiet and dedicated way, the team at RFDS help people every day. Flying in Kingsford Smith’s footsteps experiencing what he did for such a good cause means the world to me.
More information about Flying 4 The Doctors can be found at www.flying4thedoctors.com
Follow the journey on RFDS social media: FACEBOOK / TWITTER / YOUTUBE / FLICKR Please support us by donating now to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.