When you fly around the world, you tend to start early in the morning, for several reasons. First, you never know when you might have an unexpected snag–clearing out of customs and immigration, a flight-plan issue, you name it. The sooner you get started, the more time you have to fix any problems like that. (Fortunately, the handling services we used on our trip were excellent, and the biggest problem we experienced was a couple times when the country would not accept the flight plan that had been filed for us–a protocol issue, apparently, because we would file the same plan ourselves and it was immediately approved.) Second, of course, is because the best flying weather is usually in the morning–the sun’s heating has been known to kick off afternoon thunderstorms. By flying early, you can avoid many of them.
So we sometimes would joke that we had done more by 8 a.m. than some people do all day. After all, many mornings, we were the first general aviation (non-airline) flight to depart. But not at Ayers Rock, where Mike Laver preflights the airplane shortly after dawn–as tour helicopters return after their sunrise flights.
Today we fly one leg, 1,150 nautical miles to Morwell, east of Melbourne near the southern tip of Australia. We get a nice tailwind for a change, pushing our groundspeed to 295 knots and helping to hold our flight time just below four hours. As was the case between Broome and Ayers Rock yesterday, there’s very little to see on the surface in Australia’s vast interior. We do overfly endless rows of dunes, although from 25,000 feet, it’s very difficult to judge their size. This photo might show a wash; it looks like water might follow the reverse-S channel during the rainy season–although it looks dry now.
It’s overcast and there are scattered showers as we approach today’s destination. This is Mike’s old stomping grounds–he first learned to fly at this airport–so I enjoy the excellent commentary as we descend over various local landmarks. And while Mike comes back regularly to visit family here, it’s by airliner to Melbourne–he hasn’t landed an airplane here in more than 15 years. Despite the time that has passed, he clearly feels right at home. Before we can leave the airport, we’re invited to its aero club for a drink.
You can read the original Day 12 blog post here, but you won’t see any different photos–today I’ve fallen short in my goal of displaying primarily unpublished photos. I’ll try to do better on the trip home.