Our day one year ago today started early, met before dawn on the Thursday Island ferry dock to be cleared out of Australia by a customs and immigration representative. The sun was rising as we approached Horn Island, where a short shuttle ride took us to the airport. That part of the trip is told well in last year’s Day 18 blog post.
Our first leg is a relatively short 754-mile, 2.7-hour hop to Papua, Indonesia. This mountain range is one of the highest that we encounter on the trip, although at 25,000 feet they’re still well below us.
There’s a light rain falling in Papua, and the refueler uses an umbrella to keep rain out of the fuel tank. We appreciate this. During our stop we heard a siren blare–it sounded a lot like an old air-raid siren. We hear it again as we taxi for departure, and only then realize it’s apparently a signal to stop traffic on a road that crosses the runway.
Not long after departing on the second leg, 1,108 miles and 3.8 hours to Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines, we cross the Equator. This time we’re ready for it, and I manage to photograph the GPS with our longitude right at 00 degrees, 00.00 minutes. Don’t ask me how I did this, because the numbers held for less than a second. But I was pleased to get this shot, after we missed our initial crossing of the Equator southbound–we didn’t catch it until we noticed a south longitude at the next stop. Because the Equator is not really critical to aerial navigation, it is not displayed on aviation GPSs or IFR navigational charts.
Eventually we land in the Philippines, where the people are very nice and we enjoy being parked a little further away from the parade of arriving and departing airliners. I’m still surprised at how close we were parked to the airline terminal in so many countries, especially through Indonesia–there just isn’t enough general aviation activity to justify infrastructure (ramps and FBOs) that we take for granted here in the United States. And this is on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks; the irony is not lost on us.
It’s also a nice surprise to see Cessna 172s come and go on training flights here. Other than in Australia and England, we haven’t seen any signs of active flight-training activity anywhere on our journey.