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flyerme

The Diary of Jack Flyer

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Introduction

 

Jack Flyer was born in 1955 and grew up in the outskirts of Melbourne .He lived with his working class parents and had a loving upbringing.

 

He was always told "with a last name like Flyer you should be a pilot"

 

He was married to Dorris in 1975 and worked as a builders labourer.He always had a secret fascination and passion for flying.

 

In 1980 he began building a modified(to his own design)3-axis light aircraft powered by a robin lawn mower engine.

 

CHAPTER 1 - the learning curve

 

oct23 1981

 

Today I Finished my home designed light aircraft (there calling them Ultralights these days)

 

Have imerssed my self in this book titled "learning to fly Ultralights" and feel inspired,confidant and prepared for what lies ahead.

 

listening to the radio and weather forecast looks good for tomorrows test flight,but them met guys never get it right..

 

will be up early and hope to get a couple of hours practice before my spectators arrive at 10am.

 

Also feel excited and anxious about tomorrows endeavour .

 

oct24 1981

 

not much sleep last night so I was up early at 4am. had all my checks done and was ready by 5:30 am. I fired up the Robin engine and admired her hum.I taxied out to the paddock and the windsock I made sat limp. I was very excited at the prospect of flying around at 300ft looking down at my surroundings.

 

according to my book I was to do 2 hrs of progressive bunny hoping then I should have required the skills needed to pilot my new aeroplane.

 

I opened the throttle to full and was alarmed at the rate in which my plane moved forward,within seconds the tail was up and then she leapt into the air.In my panic I killed the engine and it felt like hitting a brick wall. she stopped all forward motion and dropped like a stone bending the left main wheel strutt. next 1 1/2 hrs where spent repairing the srtutt and I was back out with 40 mins spare before my spectators arrived.

 

I opened up the throttle gently this time and held some forward pressure the tail lifted but I proceeded to keep forward pressure as I slowly increased to full power ,I gently eased pressure and felt her skimming the grass ,I pulled gently back and dropped the throttle to idle and she lifted off the ground slightly and then settled. I was very happy and re-motivated with my effort.

 

I continued this a couple more times before my guests arrived.

 

With there presents I felt an over welming urge to fly her,I proceeded as before but when I pulled back I kept the throttle opened,She jumped into the air and I pushed her level then dropped to idle and attempted a landing,spectators reported several bounces before it settled , a hight of 10ft and distance of 50 meters. I couldn't stop giggling with delight.

 

I continued this process for the next couple of hours and felt confidant in letting her climb to 100+ ft fly in a straight line to the next paddock , land,turn around on the ground then fly back.

 

I replicated the same technique as before but once she lifted from the earth I continued a climb to an estimated hight of 50ft when things went wrong.I felt some sudden bumps and felt myself being pushed down in the saddle,then felt another series of bumps followed by a sinking feeling,the wings seem to be rocking and I instantly killed the engine and dived for the ground fearing the aircraft was breaking up and out of control.I landed heavy and flipped her on to her back.

 

I escaped with some cuts and bruises but my plane is a mess.We spent the rest of the afternoon examining the wreckage and cant find anything to cause such an upset? Rang my mate Charlie who recently purchased some you-beaut American plane called a Quicksilver,He reckons I hit some turbulence? I've heard of this, he defined it as a thermal? Ill look in to it this week.

 

He also advised I should take an hrs lesson in a cessna at moorabbin airfield as he did. Not on my wage....

 

enjoyed 2 shots of whisky and a snuggle with dorris tonight ,

 

looking forward to repairing and having another go.not looking forward to work tomorrow.

 

 

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Chapter 2 UP UP AND AWAY

 

Dec 14 1981

 

what a day! After establishing our new building inspector Sammy and I share a mutual interest,he has invited me to his property near Gippsland tomorrow to have a ride in his cessna 172. Really excited at thought of flying for the first time but after my solo effort im a little nervous.

 

Dec 15 1981

 

Was up at 3am!!!couldn't sleep! to excited,nervous,anxious the works.

 

Was a long drive in the hillman but arrived an hour and a half early. As expected His property continued in the theme of richville(like the Merc he drives),Bloody gigantic blue-stone house,couple of Mercs in garage,lush green acreage(of course horses frolicing threw the fields in abundance).After a cuppa we headed down the back(in the merc)to his hanger,nervs and excitement could not be contained and I fear my shaking was noticed? at 7am Sammy dragged his beautiful cessna 172 out and began checking it over,This took forever as the detail in which he did it was unbelievable.but it didnt stop there!once we were in the plane his checks continued,endless checks before he even started the thing, and sure enough once started more checks accompanied by some confusing radio calls? With all that going on he still informed me on every thing in which he was doing.(sorry Sammy you lost me at "we'll drag her out for pre-flight checks".)

 

He opened the throttle and again the speed was extraordinary ,I must say looking back Im struggling to recall the takeoff as it happened so fast. once he levelled he insisted I take control. I held the yolk (white knuckles showing) and sat my feet on the peddels.I sheepishly moved the yolk right and she responded with a swift roll, I leveled the yolk but the plane held a bank, I then turned the yolk left and she rolled back level ( I noted to self they dont self-right and very sensitive) He asked me to hold 2000ft and 90kts and advised me on the importance of Airspeed.After some oscilations I seemed to be holding speed and alt really good,Sammy then asked me to instigate a 180degree turn,Irolled her over but Sammy quickly pulled the nose up and informed me to watch my pitch as I was pitched to low(learnt some new terms) turning took a couple of goes but I have the hang of it.

 

I learnt about wake turbulence after I performed a 360 Degree turn and the plane went thump and my heart too..Sammy explained it too me but sure did scare the @#$% out of me.After around 45 mins the sun was heating up and I noticed some bumps,Sammy said nothing so I just continued staring at the pannel and flying the plane. then from out of no where we encounted one of those thermals Ive been reading about (like the one I flew threw in black betty before crashing in panic).Again Sammy said nothing but I felt rather hot between the collar as these continued..I had to ask him to take over as my arms were sore(wasn't telling him the truth).

 

He informed me we were landing then again he began checks and radio calls.

 

The landing is what I had been waiting for and as we were on final(another new term) things seemed to be in slow motion at the begining but then speed up. I remember the runway coming faster and faster and as we levelled above the grass ,things seemed to be in warp drive and I found it hard to focus.before I new it we were down and in an instant he called touch,n,go and we were back in the air,He asked how I went and I expained the speed was so great I lost focus."Try looking at the end of the runway" he explained and on the next approach I did just that and was amazed at how it seemed to slow down the event..

 

I could not stop thanking Sammy and I think all my questions that followed may have upset him as after a couple hours of such he informed me, him and the wife had to go out

 

.Any way as I sit here now writing this I'm still shaking with excitement..I love flying

 

I wish I had black betty finished as I feel so confidant and inspired to fly again now, will spend tomorrow doing the finishing touches and organise Charlie for next weekends flight test. Can't wait..

 

best day of my life(sorry Dorris)

 

 

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Chapter 3 A DATE WITH DESTINY

 

Dec 21 1981

 

Back Betty is all ready for tomorrow ,Just going over my plan in my head but feel more confidant after the flight with Sammy.

 

will avoid any bunny hoping and just fly after some taxi runs.

 

Charlie arrived this arvo with his Quicksilver,sure is a contraption with wires everywhere.looks a bit flimsy if you ask me.

 

We enjoyed a couple of beers but Charlie kept smoking all my Whinies and ate all the biscuits.

 

sure was a sight to see the 2 planes tied next to each other ,we had to have a barbie between them to admire their beauty.

 

Dec 22 1981

 

morning started at 3:30am,(well my morning anyway as Charlie didn't get up antill 4:30am slack bugger).I went over Black Betty with a fine tooth comb more than 5 times before I felt she was ready.We decided Charlie should go up first and check conditions as forecast was for a 5-8nkott southerly.

 

Anticipation was killing me as Charlie fired up his kawasaki, sounds great I must ad. He taxied threw the gate to my aero-paddock where the wind sock stood limp,he gave me the thumbs up and opened the throttle.His plane took to the air almost instantly and climbed out quite steep. he levelled off at an estimated 300 ft and began circling the paddock.He then came down low and skimmed the paddock,I felt so excited watching how simple he made it look,I was extremely nervous but felt confidant.

 

He made a few more low passes and alike before he made a very slow gentle landing. I was impressed with his flimsy contraption.

 

The time was now! do or die! I did one last check over, put my helmet on and climbed into the cockpit.I was shaking with both fear and excitement as Charlie pulled the start rope. Several pulls later she fired up and once again I admired her hum.I slowly taxied out the strip for the intended taxi runs.I lined up the 1300 meter paddock strip had one last look at the wind sock then opened the throttle. I pushed forward and let the tail raise, then held her on the ground with light forward pressure continuing to build speed,a quick look at airspeed ( 4okts) and "stuff it im going for it" ease back on the stick and then all the rattling stopped and I was flying.I let her climb at 40knts

 

and when I felt I was around 300ft I levelled off and eased back on throttle to hold her at 45knts.I couldn't believe it I was flying. I screamed out load with delight

 

I now had to make a turn! I eased the stick left and pushed a bit of left rudder and she began a gentle turn. I then flew back past the paddock and made another 180degree turn to line up the paddock for a landing. I dropped the throttle and nosed her over as she slowed almost instantly,I continued feathering the throttle to keep her at 40 knts as I made my approach, I cleared the fence by about 50ft then killed the throttle and dived slightly at the ground.I yanked the stick back and levelled her but was still some 20ft high, so eased stick pressure and as she started sinking and gave a burst of throttle and levelled at 5-10 ft as I killed power again,I let her drop and gave another yank back but she hit the ground and bounced back up.I threw the stick forward and as the ground neared I yanked her back again and she again bounced as I held full back stick.She bounced a few more times before settling.I switched her off and jumped out in the middle of the paddock screaming how masterfull I was...I continued screaming and couldn't help giving Charlie a great big hug..."You wanna come up with me for a fly"was Charlies words.I declined and watched him fly some more as I reflected on my first solo flight..As I right this I have no voice after all the screaming.

 

As I have 2 weeks holidays I will continue my flying and hope to fly with Charlie next weekend.

 

Dorris won't watch as she to nervous but I'll change that.

 

still felling the adrenalin ,even after 5 shots of whisky and 4 beers.

 

 

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Charlie arrived this arvo with his Quicksilver,sure is a contraption with wires everywhere.looks a bit flimsy if you ask me.

 

Yes they are.

 

Jack Flyer was pretty proud of himself and rightly so. Ready for Chapter 4 whenever you are ready to post it.

 

 

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Charlie arrived this arvo with his Quicksilver,sure is a contraption with wires everywhere.looks a bit flimsy if you ask me.

Yes they are.

 

Jack Flyer was pretty proud of himself and rightly so. Ready for Chapter 4 whenever you are ready to post it.

onto it now

 

 

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Chapter 4 balloon in the sky

 

Jan 2 1982

 

Have been enjoying my morning flights and really getting the hang of it.I have my landings nearly perfect and performed a wheeler landing thursday morning followed by a touch'n'go. yay me

 

Unfortunately their have been several accidents this week all fatal but it has not stopped my enthusiasm. A wing detached on a homebuilt wooden carft just 50kms from here . Apparently he was on his first test flight when the left wing folded after a fast flyby flollowed by a sharp positive G pull up which caused excess load and the left wing collapsed tearing off a large chunk of the fuselarge. The witness saw the pilot jump from the plane but never opened his chute. sad event indeed. R.I.P Brian.

 

Today was a beautiful morning,clear sky,no wind,nice and cool. I took off and flew my usual circular pattern around my property enjoying the calm conditions for a while. As I had a full tank of fuel ( about 1 and a 1/2 hour endurance ) I decided I'd venture out a bit.So I headed east towards the ranges some 16kms in the distance.

 

I had all most reach the base of the ranges when I noticed a Hot air balloon in the distance.I felt as if I was being drawn in toward the balloon and could not help flying toward it.I drew near and decided to climb above 300ft to match its hight of 500ft, I flew by the balloon at a distance of about 100ft and was chuffed when the passengers all waved franticly at me,I waved back but hoped they weren't waving in distress?

 

I made a 180 around the balloon and looked around to get my bearings.I located the range (the dandanong ranges)and headed for home.I ussumed I had not flown far and headed back toward the ranges. I noted my ground speed was rather slow compared to earlier?.

 

As I approached the ranges base I encountered some uncomfortable turbulence that made me rather nervous so I decided to head slighty in land. The bumps continued to a lesser degree and I continued heading back wst .After around a half an hour I became conscious to the fact that I still had not located my property as every thing looked the same. I became disorientated and could feel beads of sweat dripping inside my helmet and my goggles continued to fog over as I desperately searched for home.I guessed that I should be pretty close and headed wst hoping to pick up familiar ground.I saw a town in the distance and figured it to be my home town but could not recognise any roads or structures.I really started to panic at this stage and let the speed drop a few times from lack of concentration inside the cockpit.By now the sun was beading down with immense heat and my plane was beginning to succumb to the harsh turbulence which at times was over riding my full counter inputs. I headed back wst nth wst to get closer to the ranges and then continued wst desperately searching to the point where my neck was aching.

 

The fear and adrenaline was loud as my heart pounded in my chest,my hands were slippery and eyes were stinging with sweat as I was struggling to maintain some sort of calm.I really wondered what I was doing up here now and considered landing(which I should have done)in a open paddock. I was really fighting the controls now but continued flying west when in the distance sth I could make out a scrub line and headed toward it (as scrub backs on to my property) .I noticed somehow I had gained hight and now sat at 900ft (oops ) so I made a decent back to 300ft and geez loueez it was rough.As I neared the scrub I could make out my beloved aero-paddock and relief came over me.this was short lived.

 

I started to cross the srub line ( about 1 km wide) when suddenly the engine picked up revs to almost full then DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!.

 

My plane stopped all forward motion instantly and I was thrown forward. I remembered the engine failure procedure and followed by pushing the stick forward but she had already stalled. I felt the plane sink and right wing drop a little, I still held full forward stick and as a reflex tried to correct with oppersite aileron.This made the wing drop faster and my next reaction was rudder which levelled her,as the ground/scrub was now close I started easing stick pressure but had not had time to check airspeed.

 

As the trees drew very near I pulled her back level and skimmed the tree tops and come to the realisation this would NOT be good. As the plane sank I yanked the stick back all the way and braced myself.The tail collided with the tree tops first and threw the nose down abruptly.It then became inverted and dropped threw the tree, inverted tail first. I'll never forget the sounds of trees crackling and fabric tearing and then dead silence.

 

I was still strapped in the harness and the nose was pointing at the sky,I unbuckled and climbed down to inspect the damage as my first thoughts were my plane.Poor black betty was a write-off.

 

As the initial shock wore off I became aware I was badly injured. I started walking home (around 2 kms ) and again become lost.Eventually I found a road and flagged down a passing car.I was taken to hospital where I was met by Dorris who was very disstressed.

 

I suffered multiple lacerations (33 stiches) broken,wrist,collar bone,3 fractured fingures, a brocken ankle and multiple bruising.

 

Charlie and a couple of mates recovered Black betty and tell me it appears to have ran out of fuel? I'd say thier spot on as it turns out wind was around 16knts easterly so had a head wind on the way back from the balloon and total flying time was 1 hour 35mins.

 

Feeling pretty sore right now and ment to stay off the booze.

 

But after all that needed a joint and 1/2 a bottle of rum....

 

Dorris Wants me to stop all this flying business but now I know it was just fuel Im keen to build or rebuild Black Betty2,thinking a longer wing for better glide?

 

P.S and a bigger fuel tank

 

 

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Poor Jack with all his injuries (I suffered multiple lacerations (33 stiches) broken,wrist,collar bone,3 fractured fingures, a brocken ankle and multiple bruising). All he had was a joint and a half a bottle of rum for his troubles.

 

Got to say my quicksilver doesn't have a fuel guage. Have to rely on me knowing how many litres of fuel I have and how much time in the sky it will buy me.

 

More.....more.....more......!!

 

 

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Chapter 5 TRIUMPH AND TRADGEDY

 

MARCH 17 1982

 

We have had a good run with no recent accidents untill I heard this morning a cessna has gone missing over the dandenong ranges. We had some nasty weather here today so hope they find him soon. Report stated one occupant on board , flying from central Vic heading across the ranges west to east. crazy commercial pilots flying in this weather.

 

MARCH 19 1982

 

Received a call from Charlie yesterday about a cheap plane for sale only needing minor repairs?

 

We went down to check it out and she's a little beauty.

 

It's called "The Stolaero:" A

 

Steve Cohen

 

and

 

Frank Bailey

 

1978 design. Three-axis control with a mostly single-surface, wire-braced wing,

 

I made a low offer and could't believe he excepted..So I now own a proven design. We will modify it to except a 50ltr tank and add some more gauges from black betty to get her more x-country compatible. will also move the fuel gauge site tube on it to be visible from the seating position. other than a couple of minor tears I think the plane will be a good goer.

 

As I have a few days off (we had a new inspector today who didn't agree wth progress.don,t know why Sammy's been replaced I enjoy hanger talk with him.?) I ll get stuck into it as it shouldn't take long.

 

I heard on the radio they still haven't found that cessna yet? poor bugger,

 

MARCH 25 1982

 

The Stolaero is all finished with help from Charlie,Tommy,Allen and Boyde. We did a mission and stayed up most nights antill 2-3am. The results are amazing.

 

We installed the new 50 ltr tank and diverted the fuel gauge tube so It can been seen while seated,installed a new dash panel with ASI.ALT.Turn ball,compass,egt and cht.

 

We repaired the couple of tears,did a weight and ballance ,cleaned her off and she looks a treat.

 

Tomorrow we will see if our work paid off as ill take her for her maiden flight,

 

just heard a news update,:

 

They found the wreckage of the cessna today.

 

It looks like it made an emergency landing in bad weather in a small patch of open ground in the ranges, only to collide with trees at one end.The plane then erupted in flames and started a small grass fire.Speculation is that the pilot survived the initual impact only to be burnt alive.A true tradgedy and I feel for his family and friends.R.I.P fellow aviator

 

MARCH 26 1982

 

We were all up early this morning (around 4am) and had my new bird ready by 5am , we then had to wait for daylight to come. It was cold and dewy and when the sun appeared so did the fog.We eagerly pushed the stolaero to the paddock and I decided to do the taxi runs while the fog lifts. In this plane im able to pull the starter from inside the cab and the improved robin fired easy.It sounded very similar to Black Betty only less vibration.

 

I began by slow taxing around the paddock then did some slowish dummy take off runs. When I felt comfortable I decided on a high speed Taxi run.

 

I opened the throttle and pushed the stick forward,it ran along for some 20 od meters before the tail rose but when it did she picked up speed rapidly.Before I new it she lifted off the deck and I had a moment of panic!I froze slightly as the plane climbed out. I then regained my composure and levelld her out.The fog was whisping passed me as I evaluated my situation.Then it occurred to me! im flying! the planes flying! fly it boy! fly it!

 

I continued level flight until I reached the boundry fence then began a gentle left bank. Responce was sensitive and effective and she was a delight to fly.I continued a large circut getting a feel for her,She was magic...I felt so comfortable I dived her down to do a low flyby over the boys. I was having so much fun I had to take advantage of conditions and climb to 300ft for a stall test.I dropped to idle and held her level. As the nose rose she started sinking,I pulled full back but she just continued a slow decent. was that it ?

 

Wow that was benign and must ad my first stall test, Stall was 27knts fully loaded.

 

Whilst enjoying my new beast I noticed Charlie taxing in the paddock I was able to have a birds eye view of his take off and watched him circle bellow me.Eventually we reached the same altitude and Charlie pulled along side me. No words could describe watching him floating beside me bobbing up and down like a cork adrift.

 

After a couple of circuits together He hand signaled me to follow him.I slowed down and monouvered behind him but encounted turbulence so moved to the right of him and found smooth air again. We headed west and picked up the coldstream west road and followed it along. I was a little nervous in the new plane and after my last flight a couple of months back ,(still have pain) slightly worried.I had 45ltrs on board which should get me some 3 hours or more.WE continued to follow the coldstream wst rd and were met by an awesome veiw of the Yarra river.I watched Charlie as he deceded below the tree top to skim the river. I couldnt help but join him at a slightly different alt(about 20-30 ft as Charlie was at about5-10ft) and what an amazing feeling! drifting across the river with its steam like fog radiating off the water.Truely majestic.We climbed above the henley bridge and turned north over the golf course (plently of nice soft grass to land on down there).We then headed back along the coldstream wst rd and did several circuts of the town before heading back home. I signaled Charlie to land first as I circled my property. I then proceeded to make my approach with caution and must say the stolaero handled superb.I made a beautiful greaser to the cheer of my spectators and had never felt prouder.

 

I felt nothing could bring me down at that moment but I was wrong!

 

Dorris was at the hanger waiting for me.I new something was wrong as she never goes out there.

 

She informed me I had a phone call from my boss whome was letting me know Sammy (our building inspector) had been killed in a recent plane crash.

 

I stood in disbelief ,,,,,,,,,, then it dawned on me,,,,,,,,,,the lost cessna was Sammy.

 

 

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Stolaero. Now that brings back memories as i built all of them as well as the condors when i worked with steve

 

Great days and a great little plane. Where is it now?

 

 

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Is this likely to deter Jack Flyer?

yes but not for long. Jackie is determined,passionate, and slightly obsessive when it comes to his flying and feels a need and a calling to continue his endevour no matter what the cost. Although fear constantly grips him he continues to make his dreams a reality.

 

 

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Chapter 6 the first adventure

 

may 5 1982

 

The plan to fly the Great Ocean road has come together rather well.Charlie has his Quicksilver ready, and Tommy has his motorised hang glider sorted out.

 

We plan to fly out from here at home at around 7:30 am, me in my Stolareo,Charlie in the Quikie,and Tommy in his hang glider.

 

feeling quite anxious and very excited

 

May 6 1982 - day 1

 

We were all ready by 7 am but as the sun rose so did the usual Fog.Old Charlie wanted to wait for the fog to clear but I was keen to get above it and get our trip underway.

 

by 7:45am I convinced Charlie it was time.Tommy was first airborne in his contraption (but hell it flies well) then I persuaded Charlie to get up next as he would be leading,then it was my turn,I opened her up and let the tail raise,I glanced at airspeed and then the engined surged and stopped completly? Oh s*&t not now!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I climbed out in panic and searched the engine for something obvious .I then started cursing as I pulled out the tool kit and began franticly removing the plugs.By this stage both Charlie and Tommy had landed .I had swapped plugs but still could not get her to fire when Tommy said "ya haven't turned ya fuel on numb nuts!"

 

oops.... after an easy restart we all got airborne.With Charlie leading we headed south with a loverly 3knt tale wind.We were sitting on 45knots and the air was so smooth.

 

I felt an overwhelming warmth come over me as I gracefully drifted across sky.

 

The new uhf radio's we installed are great but I wish old Charlie would stop commentating on every bloody paddock we cross.("If ya look to your right you'll see Merphys farm and on the left is his ram paddock"-Ram paddock? who gives a toss Charlie,,, bloody ram paddock?)

 

Our first obstacle was silvan reservoir as theres a fair bit of scrub around it .We had decided to stay est of Mt evelyn and follow the monbulk road.It is truely magnificent country I must ad and the view of the reservoir was awesome with the fog emanating off the still glass like surface and watching our 3 shadows moving in unison across the land,just stunning.

 

We then headed slightly sth/sth/wst from monbulk which took us across some scrub along the cardinia reservoir(the cardinia rerservoir is massive in comparison to the silvan reservoir). I was rather nervous flying over the scrub but the nice smooth air eased the pressure.the scrub seem to run forever right down past upper beaconsfield and when we finally reached open country again( after some 15- mins) I was very relieved.We then continued to our first destination,a small grass strip just out of tooradin.Charlie knows the fellar there who flies cessna's doing charter and joy flights. Also was a ship wreck there which was pretty cool.

 

We arrived at 9am and flew 55kms and it took an hour.

 

Plan was to have a quick refuel and continue but once old Charlie got to talking it some 50mins before we took back to flight.our next leg would take us around the coast

 

over hastings to a place called Boneo on the mornington peninsular.

 

Again Charlie knows a vegi grower whome happily let us land between one of his tractor rows which was interesting.It was only about 20ft wide but ran for about a km or more but ill get to that....

 

The wind had picked up a bit and there was some moderate turbulence around and by now Tommy was complaining about the ride.I think the western port winds might have contributed to the turbulence? From Hasting we headed slighly inland to pick up a small rd called browns rd were Charlies mates farm is.

 

I had been worried about finding this tractor row but Steve(Charlies mate)had put white buckets out to mark it.Charlie landed first then I followed ,then Tommy came down for his approach but seemed to really be fighting the control(or his weight) and landed fairly hard but we couldn't find any damage?

 

We were looked after by Steve and his wife whome drove us to the town of rosebud for refueliing and supplies.The evening was spent going over the deatils of our next leg which had been the centre of much debate.Charlie was adamant we should overcross portsea to queenscliff as it saved a day.He suggested we throw the rules and regs out the window and climb to 1000ft and cross, that way we could glide to safety if the engines stop.

 

May 7 1982- day 2

 

we were all up early and rather anxious about the crossing but we put our nervs to the side and were soon gaining hight over Rye and Tootgarook.We reached an alt of 1000ft over white cliffs and followed the bay coast past sorrento toward Portsea.hear was an obsticle as theres an Army camp at portsea heads and one on the otherside at point lonsdale .This ment we had to fly a longer crossing. As we crossed I was baffled as to how quite it was.Im guessing even Charlie was a bit wierey as He had stopped commentating at this stage.We reached point lonsdale and decended to 300 ft and tracked to Ocean grove ,then on to Barwon heads,We followed the coast and by now the air had become rough. Charlie was back commentating and Tommy was getting anxious about the ride.From Barwon heads the ride became unenjoyable and a number of times Tommy cursed us out for "dragging him along on for the adventure" He also mentioned more than once he'd like to land(NOW)..Charlie however mentioned it reminded him of his childhood at the local fair riding the merry go round...Merry go round??????? more like a rodeo bull with a cracker up its bum...

 

I never let on my feelings but I was feeling the stress of maintaining control. Tommy was really starting to panic and I moved closer to get a clear visual on him.I watched his kite bobbing up and down but noticed the frame in which he sits was swinging and twisting all over the place however the wing seemed pretty stable.I reassured Tommy that his wing was stable and it was only his frame swingging around but was swiftly told that I should try "swinging around in it then!"

 

At this stage I became aware of the fact that my plane was not being efected by much turbulence any more and realised I was over the water and both Tommy and Charlie were about 200ft in land.I informed them to fly over the water were the air was smooth and before I had finished my transmission Tommy was already a km out to sea.Charlie on the other hand decided he was enjoying the ride and contiued over the coast line.(should mention that Charlie was worse effected by turbulence with his huge 40ft wing span) We contiued to Torquay were it was decided on a beach landing.Charlie would go first as he has performed a number of beach landings on his earlier expeditions . I noted He landed very close to the shoreline and Tommy followed the same approach.I continued this fashion and made my first beach landing.

 

We parked up on the beach and it was decided to wait for the cool of the afternoon to contnue.We were back up by 3pm and headed slightly inland for colac.This would be our longest leg to date at some 60kms.By heading to colac we avoided some nasty tiger country. The leg was uneventful and we were greeted at a the small grass strip at Colac by the Owners Harold and Joan.Great hospitality..

 

May 8 -day 3

 

Wind was way up this morning and we decided to wait for it to settle but that didn't happen!

 

May 9 -day 4

 

condition were better but was a lot of cloud around We were told by a local charter pilot that there was a bit of turbulence around and Tommy got cold feet..

 

May 10 - day 5 we were graced with a beautiful morning and conditions were near perfect..We Now had the challenge of a 90km flight to Warrnambool and all calculations for fuel would leave us plenty of reserve, with Charlie using the most, he'd still have an 1hr of more reserve.

 

From Colac we tracked along the princess hwy taking in the view of the lakes,we then flew direct over cobden to warrnambool.

 

This was a very enjoyable flight but I was getting a little cramped by the time we arrived nearly 2 hrs after take off.

 

From Warrnambool we had planed on tracking the coast to Portland but a local Pilot at Warnambool suggested we fly out to Lady Julia Percy Island as its only 9 kms off the coast. I really didn't like the idea of an unplanned flight but both Charlie and Tommy were keen (Tommy just likes the smooth ride over the water).

 

We followed the coast past Port Fairy and could make out the small island off the coast. There was a lot of cloud moving in from the west and I noted it to Charlie and Suggested abandoning the fly out to the island. It would be dissapointing but Charlie agreed. As the weather moved in I become anxious for some reason about the ground below and decided to head inland toward the princess hwy where an out landing was more forgiving. We were flying over a small town called Yambuk when Charlie yelled "engine trouble?..I watched him begin a shallow circle decent and he radioed "engine surging have to land".Me and tommy circled and watched poor old Charlie dump it in a Paddock and then his radio died?From our view it looked like a nice landing but communication was lost.Tommy and I decided we'd also make an outlanding to make sure Charlie was OK.I came down first and lined up a flat patch in the paddock but when I drew near I could see the paddock was rough,I felt committed to landing and continued my approach. Apon touchdown I hit a rabbit hole and my right main undercarrage was torn clean off the frame .My right wing tip then dug into the ground and I ground looped.I quickly radioed Tommy to abandon his landing but he stressed he could not find his way with out us. By his stage Charlie was hovering over me cursing my descission to land!.I informed him of Tommy'i predicament and we began looking for the best spot for him to put down.We lined him up by informing him to use Charlie and I as the runway thresh hold and We stood about 60ft apart for Tommy to aim between.Tommy made a perfect greaser and only rolled for about 30 meters.(not bad them trikes).

 

Charlies Quicksilver had also sustained undercarrage damage and it was apperent that we would not be proceeding any time soon.

 

May 14 1982

 

After a lot of phone calls and a few hours on the spanners pulling all our planes down we had them loaded on trailers and were heading home to Dorris's delight.

 

oh well back to the hanger for a fix up me thinks...

 

and a well deserved beer or 2.

 

May 16 1982

 

Charlie informed me he found the cause of his engine loosing power and it was a grain of sand in the carbie, more likely picked up on the beach landing.

 

 

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Those were the days, this really does bring back memories, I had more enjoyment flying rag and tube in the late eighties than any time since.

 

 

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