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February 9, 2017

Journey to Coolangata

map of Australia with photos of Lancair Super ES

Henry and Henson’s Great Adventure

All good adventures start with a simple plan. My buddy from Sydney Australia, Bryan Jacobs, gave me a call and said that a mate of his was looking for a Lancair ES. Could I help? Well, of course. So, Greg Manzie, from Brisbane, drops me a line saying he’ll be in the US just before Halloween and could I look at the 6 planes he was interested it. Anything for a future Lancair owner.

Greg has a newer Mooney and is tired of the very limited CG range and carrying capacity. He quickly narrowed his list down to 3 planes, two in Texas and one in Oregon. Now we (Henson Bartle, my son and I, Henry Bartle) live in Oregon at the Independence air park, so we wanted him to buy the one that was 100 miles away. But, nope, he wanted the one in Texas.

Greg showed up at my house on Halloween and was greeted by our crazy neighbors dressed in their finest costumes. We started the conversation on what he wanted done before the plane flew to Australia. He did not want the paint job that was on N132BB. (It can be Googled as it is an Oshkosh winner.) It had flames from nose to tail. Greg is a retired dentist and a bit Conservative. So, without seeing the plane in person, I told him that we would repaint it. It should take a month.

He made arraignments for it to be ferried up to us. It showed up at noon on a Saturday. I flew it for a half hour and it flew fine. We put it in my hangar and preceded to do a condition inspection. At the air park you just put out the word that you need help and 10 people showed up. After 2 hours we came to the conclusion that this was a very well built airplane and it was worth the money. I called Greg and he went ahead and purchased the plane. One side note about Australian banking; when I wire money to Australia, they get it the next day. When an Australian wires money to a US bank, it takes four to six working days before it shows. The people Greg bought plane from were very trusting because we had the wings off and were sanding it the next day.

After weeks of prep and painting, we had a finished plane that is in Independence, Oregon. Greg and I had to ship it to Australia. Lancair IV’s ship all the time as the tail is 11 feet 4 inches. On an ES it is just under 14 feet.. ES’s will not fit in a container so I looked into top loading. That was $60,000.00. Too expensive.

Greg found a ferry pilot from Brisbane who had ferried a couple of Cirrus’s. He said he would do it. I flew the plane to Torrance, California, picked up the pilot from Australia, at LAX at 6:30 AM. He came with the fuel bladder and the HF radio.We had plumbed the right wing so fuel from the bladder (in the cockpit) would be fed directly into the wing. We made wiring provisions for the HF radio and fuel tank pumps. When we got to the airplane in Torrance the first problem came up. This is a 12 volt airplane and the pumps are 24 volts. I located new pumps and picked them up. When I got back the ferrier has the HF wired but he can’t get it to work. I was in the Corvette business for 20 years. In 1952 the engineers had wired the first Corvette and screwed the grounds to the fiberglass body. They threw the switch to find that fiberglass does not conduct electricity. Well, he found out what General Motors discovered 64 years earlier.

So, I got on the phone with the FAA and got a one day waiver for the use of a satellite phone. With that I was satisfied that the pilot could get the job done. I headed back to Long Beach airport and caught a flight back home to Portland. The pilot repositioned the plane to Santa Barbara.

I woke up at 4:00 AM and the plane had just departed Santa Barbara, so I went back to bed. At 7:00 AM I checked and it had gone 120 miles off shore and turned around and was back in Santa Barbara. The pilot told me that the satellite phone was not working when he got out there. “Go buy a new one,” I told him. Next night at 2:00 AM the plane took off, but at 150 miles it starts to maneuver in big circles. I call the FAA. After a long hold, they inform me, the satellite phone waiver was for the day before and they are not going to grant an extension. Great. I go back to bed to be awaken by the pilot calling to say he cracked the right landing gear fairing. He had landed okay and was rolling out when he ran over a embedded runway light, that had a 2” lip. He send me a picture. Nothing was broken but the right leg fairing.

I asked him to fly it back to Torrance and my son Henson and I would come down and fix it. All of our family is in Orange County, California and Thanksgiving was coming up. We drove to Orange County California, and after two days, it was glassed and painted. That gave me more time to visit my 2 granddaughters, Evey and Nova. I then flew it up to Whiteman Airport were they put in an HF tuner and installed the antenna from the motor to the left wing tip, then to the top of the fin. Flying back to Torrance, I was able to talk to a plane 1000 miles off shore. We are ready again. The plane would stay in Torrance till the fairy pilot could come back. The fairy pilot called on December 20 2015 and said he is on the way. After getting to Torrance he says, the satellite phone is missing. So we buy a third satellite phone. He flies to Santa Barbara, then decides that it’s too close to Christmas and leaves the plane in Santa Barbara and returns to Australia.

It was $100 a night at the FBO. I fly down there and find that someone has towed the plane with a cart. Giving a Lancair a big tug the strut will go into the centering pin. They had broken it off internally. If I could have steered the plane I would have flown it to Oregon. Instead I removed the front strut for rebuilding at Lancair and I flew home commercially.

Ten days later the strut showed up in Santa Barbara. Paul Cole, a pilot friend and I are on a plane to Santa Barbara. Paul is building a pressurized Lancair ES-P and wanted to fly in one for a long cross country. When I get the strut out of the well packed box, I find that the valve that pressurize the strut is broken. Quick call to Lancair. It is a custom piece and they will overnight one to me. What was another $100 in tie down fees in the grand scheme of things?

Finally, everything is fixed except the weather. There are thunderstorms in San Francisco. Paul files a flight plan to fly over the ocean. The FAA would not accept his flight plan.After talking to a supervisor, he got a flight plan filed. The flight was great and we land at Independence State airport, 7S5 at 7:00 PM. As we taxi off the runway, we can barely see anything. The single light on each wingtip is worthless.

The next day Henson and I start installing 24 10 watt lights in the nosewheel fairing.In the wingtip a 6 LED light bar and a 40 watt LED light. Finally, there’s enough light to see at night. At our airpark we have 6 ham radios operators.. Joe Dubner (one of them) came over to check out the HF installation. He said “ We can do a better job”. We take the tuner out from under the instrument panel and is now mounted in the tail. We connected the tuner to the main ground. Now the whole aircraft ground wires are a big ground plane. The antenna is mounted in front of the rudder. Doug Davis, a neighbor, machined an airfoil block to get the 50 foot antenna away from the rudder. It worked great.

OK, so now I am really tired of those that do not know how to fly Lancairs and keep damaging this plane. I have 6 months of our lives wrapped up in this plane . My son, Henson and I decide to make the trip ourselves to Australia. My wife Donna said, “NO.” After reassuring her that my life insurance was in good order, she gave in. We now acquire a 6 person raft, inflatable desalination distiller, more flashlights then anyone needs, new satellite phone sim cards, aircraft life vests, 3 GPS’s, a floating 406 ELT, an inreach tracking Device and a Spot tracker that stops about 1000 miles off shore. I called Turtle Pac (for a fuel bladder) in Australia on Thursday here ( Friday there) and told them I needed one ASAP. It showed on Monday. No addition cost for freight. We put 50 gallons of fuel in the bladder and I asked Henson and Doug to do a test fight. They came back rather excited. Apparently, the bladder would roll back toward the tail on climb and come smashing forward into their seats on descent. Doug went about making a big containment vessel. I have no idea how the Australian ferry pilot got away with the bladder not tied down.

Finally, the weather cleared up to get the trip going. Henson will pilot and I’ll navigate and do the radio transmissions. Henson and I flew the plane to Oakland, California. Spent the night. At 3:00AM we were fueling the bladder. One hundred and twenty-four gallons in the wings and one hundred and thirty in the bladder. We had attached the 50 foot wire antenna with the funnel on the end. Henson starts the engine and I call clearance. They have a completely different clearance than what I filed. Ten minutes later we are ready to taxi. The weather is 900 foot overcast, tops reported at 4,500 and 15 knot direct crosswind. A perfect morning in Oakland, California. Ground wants to know why we are not taking their 6,000 foot runway. I told him we were a little heavy and would prefer the long one. No problem. It’s a two mile taxi. We finally get to the run up area and as we make a wide turn so not to taxi over our 50 foot tail, Henson Said, “ I wonder if the antenna is still attached.” Before I could say anything he pops open the door. Then says, “Yes, there it is. OH, CRAP. The door won’t close.” The fuel bladder has sprung the fuselage an inch. We set the parking brake, pulled and tugged until we finally closed the door. As we sat there exhausted, I was thinking, “We’ll never get rid of this plane.” Henson lined up on the runway. I looked over at him and said, “Let the adventure begin.” Lancair ES’s have a gross weight of 3,500 pounds. We weighed 4,700. I had called about the ferry weight and the FAA response was that the airplane was “experimental.” This plane has a TSIO 550 350HP engine. We rolled about 6,500 feet. At 800 feet above ground, I made a decision to pull the power back to 59% cruise power, lean of peak. We went from 700 feet per minute to 100 feet per minute. Henson wanted more power but I told him that I did not want to be 1 gallon short of Hawaii. Plus, he needed more over gross, under powered actual IFR time. He was thoughtful and did not respond. At 900 feet we were in the clouds. After 15 minutes in the soup, ATC came back and asked if we were still planing on climbing. I responded, “Yes, just call us Lancair heavy.” They didn’t see the humor or respond. We finally made it to our assigned attitude of 6,000 feet. We made contact with San Francisco on the HF on frequency 3413. Here are the waypoints: CINNY, ALANN, ADUMN, GITLE, DIALO, R576, DENNS, NA, and KOA.

 

map of Australia with photos of Lancair Super ES

Onward from Kona, finally

Every hour on the hour we would have to report in and report again at a waypoint. If we crossed the way point at three minutes till the hour, they still wanted us to report on the hour. We had a very beautiful sunrise at 250 miles off shore. When it was time to transfer fuel we turned on the pumps and nothing happened. After a few minutes. Henson unbuckled and laid on the bladder burping the bladder. Seven minutes later, the fuel was flowing. We got tired of going in and out of the clouds at 6,000 feet so I tried to call San Francisco on the radio. They must have been at lunch. So, I made the decision to climb to 8,000 feet. We are 500 miles out to sea. The next time I reported in, they spent 2 minutes telling me how wrong I was for the unauthorized altitude change. They where right and I lived and learned.

Every time we would key the HF, everything on the instrument panel would go haywire and the autopilot would kick off. So here I am holding the HF radio in my lap. The radio got hot when transmitting. I’m glad I am done having kids. At 1,000 miles out, an Alaskan flight hails us on 121.5 saying San Francisco wants to talk to us. I call in and they have a route change. I replied “Really?”. They rerouted us twenty-five miles north for two hundred miles, then back to our original flight plan. We then saw our only ship, a freighter on the way to Hawaii.

This Lancair oil temperature has always been 180 degrees. As we are progressing, it is creeping up to 183, then 188 to 192. Of course we are concerned. I’m thinking, are we running out of oil? Why is the temp going up? After 7 hours I decided that is was just the rise in outside air temp. When we landed Henson checked the oil and after 15 hours of running the engine, we had used 1/3 of a quart. ATC kept telling me to monitor the HF but, it hisses and I wanted to listen to music. So like any good pilot, I told them “ Unable.” When we got within 300 miles of Hawaii, San Francisco stated that I did not have a choice and I needed to monitor the HF. They never called. It was a long hour and half listening to the hiss. We used 8 different frequencies from 3413 to 13354 khz.

At 150 miles out we could see the mountain on the big island of Hawaii. At 100 miles from the big Island we could receive Honolulu. For some reason they kept trying to send us to Hilo. Hilo was reporting 700 overcast 20 knot gusting to 35. It took ten minutes for Honolulu to understand that we were going to land at Kona. At 25 miles out we canceled IFR and did a straight in to Kona. The weather was unlimited visibility, light and variable winds. A nice way to finish our first over water trip at 2,080 NM or 2,400 statue miles. We landed with 73 gallons on board. We were airborne for 13 hours 10 minutes. The engine ran for 15 hours.

After we tied down. I started to have the effects of dehydration. I only drank 5 bottles of water during the flight. It took 24 hours to recover. Quite a eye opener.

We went to US customs at the Kona airport to get our paper work to go to Pago Pago. Doing a EAPIS for the first time took a couple hours. I called Flight service to get a weather report. It is the first time with a briefer that starts out stating “flight not advised.” They would then brief about thunderstorms to 50,000 and no way around.

So, after five days on the big Island, Henson and I had seen just about everything and got in the plane and flew to Maui. We spent two and half days sight-seeing. We called Flight Service twice a day and on the second day on Maui they finally gave us the briefing we had been waiting for.

We flew back to Kona and got ready, called and filed our IFR flight plan. They called me back while I was at dinner. They had a reroute. Of course, the only thing I had to write on was the credit card receipt. PHKO, DATBE, G457, EGKEL, EBEBE, ELLMS, BUDRA, LAKER and TNT. Little did I know that receipt would be my flight plan paperwork for the whole trip. I called back at 11:00 PM. Still all clear. Up at 3:00 AM, taxi to the airport. Henson starts to fuel, 124 in the wings and 140 gallons in the bladder. We taxi to the run up area and try contacting Honolulu, 200 miles away. It was hard to hear them so I finally called FSS. They are waiting for our release to come through. It is now 4:00 AM and I am on hold. Every 10 minutes they come back on the line and tell me to hold. Finally at 5:15 AM they say they can not give us a clearance because I do not have enough fuel on board. I have 20 hours of fuel and it is a 14 hour flight. They inform me that a thunderstorm has come up and it is 600 miles wide and 200 miles deep. It is 1,100 miles off the Hawaiian coast. So, we taxi back and go back to the same parking spot and go back to bed.

Later that day we return to the airport. Now the problem is we have 140 gallons in the bladder and the tail is just three feet off the ground (normally it is five feet). This is where the local general aviation community come through. Everyone gathered their 5 gallon fuel bottles and for the next 3 hours we pumped the fuel out of the bladder. At 3:00 PM I called FSS and they said it looks like the weather will be there for a week. We booked a flight back to Portland, Oregon. Nine days in paradise was enough. We get home and back to our normal routine of working on airplanes.

About a week later I started to have a toothache. No problem. Take some Tylenol and it will pass. This is on Thursday so when Sunday morning comes I have the toothache from hell. Thankfully living at the air park we have people who help in time of need. I call Kelly Mathews, who works for a dentist in town. It is 10 AM and five minutes later she told me to be at the office at noon and the doctor will take a look. Well, two root canals later I’m are ready to finish the adventure.

“EXCEPT”, the Lancair cruise is about to start. My wife informed me that we would not be missing it. There are 10 from the air park going and 40 more from all over the country. We all gathered in Houston and boarded the Carnival Freedom in Galveston. Just saying that 50 Lancair people had a very good time for the week. After the cruise, which ended on a Saturday, everyone went home.

Henson and I went from Houston back to Kona. Sunday morning it is back to the airport to see if the plane is still there. All is well, I found my flight plan on the receipt, called and filed for a Monday morning departure. They accepted my flight plan as filed. I called Flight Service and they said just the normal activity on the equator. Great.

We took a 3:00 AM taxi ride to the airport. We loaded everything and the plane started right up. Off to the 24 hour fuel station. We topped off the wing tanks from all the waiting by the runway the previous month. One hundred and forty gallons in the bladder. Just as Henson has the bladder full, it burps back. Henson gets some fuel on his lower shirt and front belt area. We are in the middle of nowhere do he washes it down with a couple of bottles of water and he says lets go.

A call to FSS and we now have a clearance. We learned a lot from our takeoff in the dark at Oakland. We kept the takeoff power on till 3,000. Then set cruise rich of peak till 6,000. Then economy cruise of 28 inches of manifold pressure, 2,420 RPM and lean of peak setting of 13.8 gallons per hour for the climb to 8,000 feet. Everything was smooth and normal for the first 1,000 miles. Fight Service said at five to six degrees north (of the equator) there was normal activity. If that was normal, I am so glad we never launched the month before. Buildup from 35 to 50,000 feet everywhere but a sliver of openings between the huge buildups. We picked our way through to find a massive wall of cloud that at 50 miles away we could see them building. To the right it was 50,000 and as far as the eye could see. To the left it was 25,000 and building fast, with a 20 miles wide opening in between, we made a course correction 10 degrees to the left. After 5 minutes Henson said, “ I think we need to aim to the extreme right side, these cloud are really moving”. We made a 20 degree turn to the right. When we get to the clouds, the opening is less than a mile. We cannot increase our speed because we are still very heavy. The clouds were about 20 miles thick. As we exited we were popping in and out of them and getting a wild ride. We were then greeted with normal clouds for the next couple of hours. At two degrees south of the equator, we ran into the baby sisters of the big clouds. This set was easy to fly around.

We are still reporting on the HF radio on the hour and at every waypoint. At 200 miles from Pago Pago, we are turned over to them. As we got closer to Pago Pago we lost contact with ATC. We flew over the island, airport and tried calling the tower. We tried to listen to ATIS. No luck. Finally a twin Otter coming in from Samoa calls. He tells that the tower closed 5 years ago and no one monitors the frequencies and just treat it like a uncontrolled airport. This leg is 2,240 Nautical miles or 2,578 statue miles. We were in the air 14 hours and 10 minutes. The motor ran for15.5 hours and used one half a quart of oil.

After we land a guy comes out and points us to a spot to park by a building. We get out and unload. No one bothers to greet us.. We roll up the 50 foot HF antenna and walk into the open air terminal. We are behind the counter and no one, not even the airport security, gave us a look. I finally ask the officer what we needed to do. Go pay your landing fee and see customs before you leave, he says. Okay, so we walk over to the rental car offices. There is one guy working and he says they have no cars and to stay at the Tradewinds Hotel. He called the hotel to fetch us. As we are standing at the curb an immigration officer passes by and says that he has to go and to stop by tomorrow. So much for homeland security.

The Tradewinds Hotel turned out to be the best hotel we had stayed in. It was a wonderful place. The next day we get a ride to the airport from the hotel shuttle. Henson starts the cowl removal and inspection on the plane. I head over to the airport office to pay the landing fee. I should have paid it the day before because I had a nightmare about the landing fee being $10,000. I walked into the airport office and three very nice ladies, who worked there, were happy to see me. They asked if I had gotten permission to land. I told them that I had called ten days before and stated that I would be here this week. She looks at a inch stack of papers and finds a note with my name on it. “That’s all I need,” she states. Now is it a US airplane? “Yes.” Great, the fee for US planes is $100. I am a happy traveler.

Now off to immigration. My paperwork is in order to come into American Samoa but they need a bill of lading for us to depart. Immigration is very helpful. They send me over to an air freight carrier. They could not believe that we were flying a single engine plane to Australia. In 10 minutes they had the paperwork generated and would not take a cent from me. Back to immigration. With this paperwork I was entitled to a new set of stamped travel documents, Paid another $100 and was good to go.

Henson had the airplane fueled with 124 gallons in the wings and 147 in the bladder bank. When I called 10 days before I asked if the fuel could be paid with a credit card or do I need cash. They stated credit cards were accepted. Well, their card machine was broken. So they wanted cash. $1,521.39. No problem I will just run over to the bank. It is 1:30 pm. I get a cab and he says that there are only 2 banks and the closest one is an Australian bank, ANZ. Great, we get there and there are 100 people standing around. I ask what was going on and they say get a number and wait. The teller tells me that it will be hours to see a teller. I get number 114, they are on 82. Well, I will just go out to the ATM and get the money. I put in for $1,000.00. It says that is too much. I then do it for $500. Same response. Try $300. no. OK, try the other card. $1,000, no $500, no. $300 no. I go back to the cab and ask if there another ATM. Yes, at the market. We go there and the same thing. Let’s go back to the bank. I sit and wait the 2 hours. The teller takes all my info and then I see she ran my name to see if I was on a watch list. Apparently, I was OK. She runs my cards and they are declined. I call the bank and card company and they say that they only see the first two tries at the ATM and nothing else. To get to the end of the story. ANZ has a policy, if a card has two attempts to get money in one day that are unsuccessful, they block the card for 24 hours. Left the bank with no money. Back to the airport. Taxi ride for 3.5 hours $60. I explain the problem to the fueling person, and he said.” Write us a check.” What, I just spent 3 plus hours running around and you‘ll take a check?

Right next door to the airport “terminal” is a big NOAA building. I walk over and ring to bell at the gate. 10 seconds later the gate opens and I walk into the building to find it unlocked. Inside are two of the nicest and most helpful young women I have met in a long time. I explained what we were doing. They were wondering where the beautiful airplane that showed up came from. Now, I really like them. They gave me one of the most thorough weather briefing. Stating I should have a good trip except for a band of Weather 100 miles wide, 400 to 650 miles off shore of Australia. How right they were.

Back to the hotel and I called Christ Church New Zealand to file. It took a little bit to get to the right department for international flight plans. The lady there (sure wish I wrote her name down) took over and finished everything. She said she would call Australia and get our route approved and call me back. She then asked if I could please call the ATC at Christ Church on my satellite phone so they would have the number logged in. Good to her word, 30 minutes later she is on the line. Of course, there is a completely different routing. So I found my trusty credit card receipt and wrote down our clearance. TUT, NFTP, NFNK, NN, PUPEX, VESUN, DEWEY, KERRI, CG and YBCG. The frequency was the same one that did not work the day before in Pago Pago. She requested that I call Christ Church on my satellite phone just before boarding the plane.

Off to bed, 3:00 AM sure happens fast. We were at the plane by 4 am. We played out the 50 foot antenna and got in the plane. American Samoa is 86 degrees during the day and 82 degrees at night. So at 4:15 AM . I’m sitting in a very cramped right seat waiting for my son. The fuel in the bladder had the seat back sitting straight up. After 15 minutes, he comes out saying nature called. Couldn’t you do that at the hotel? Out we taxi. At American Samoa you need to back taxi on the runway. At 4:30 AM after we announce what we are doing, a Metro liner calls in on a 10 mile final. He states that this is the first time in two years that anyone has been on the runway and that he usually doesn’t make a call.

So off we go. Full throttle till 3,000 feet. It is a dark moonless night. The only way we can see we are in the clouds is when the strobe reflect off them. We call ATC. No response. So every 5 minutes we retry. After 20 minutes, a woman answers back and says she doesn’t start work till 5:00. She’s just in early. The flight proceeds fine and the sun comes up. We are instructed to switch to Christ Church HF 5643. All is well. We are handed off to Fiji. The first couple of reports go great. The next one, the HF had a hard time tuning a frequency. We report in and can barely hear them. We go one more hour, then Fiji wants us to call on the satellite phone it works good. We were 50 miles from Fiji and could not see the island. I believe the earth is not covered in water, it is covered in clouds. We only saw two atolls and one small mountain sticking up, the whole leg. We got about 600 miles off the Australian coast and our storm scope starts painting thunderstorms, big thunderstorms. Well, the gals at NOAA know their stuff. As we got closer we started picking our way through the clouds. Then there is an area without an opening on the Storm Scope. Henson and I talk about it. We maneuvered till the storm scope had a dogleg showing clear, then entered the clouds. I am very glad I had installed hand holds on the pillar posts. I hung on tight and 10 minutes later we popped out.

We were handed off to Australian control. They only wanted to talk on the HF, which was hard to understand. The report that should take 2 minutes was taking 10 minutes. At 200 miles out they gave us a VHF frequency. Try every 10 minutes till you get a response from Brisbane, they said. At 150 miles we were receiving Brisbane. About 20 miles out we finally got clear of the clouds and could see the coast line, what a great sight. We started to get vectors and they asked if we could see the 737 that was at 9 o‘clock and 5 miles. Have it in sight. Except we were still heading away from the airport. I asked for lower and a turn toward the airport. Unable. What? They said they needed more spacing. I guess 15 miles is not enough in Australia. We had a great view of the Gold Coast. They finally turned us and had us descend to 3,000 feet. They cleared us to land at Coolangatta airport 20 miles out. As we got to the runway, I could see Greg and Rosemary Manzie with a group of friends. I mentioned to Henson that this would be a good time to grease it in. He did a fabulous job. Nose high greaser. Great job Henson. A perfect way to finish a long trip. We taxied to the general aviation terminal.

 

map of Australia with photos of Lancair Super ES

Pago Pago to Coolangatta

When you descend into Australia, you are required to spray bug killer in the cabin. We could see the headlines.”Father and son team made the 7,500 mile trip but were killed by bug spray.” We were instructed not to open the door until we showed our bug spray to the inspector. As soon as she saw the can, she gave us the OK to exit. She inspected the plane and concentrated on the bottom cowl where the exhaust came out. After she was done, she told us that last week a Cirrus came in with a birds nest with mama and 3 babies in the nest. A little cooked but still there. They had to get specialists to extract it and incinerate them. That is when I looked for the HF antenna. It was gone. Somewhere over the Pacific it broke off. Possibly why the HF did not work as good this leg. I was very surprised that it worked at all without an antenna. Next came the immigration officers. Nice guys. I had all the paper work in order. I asked if we could go inside because it was really starting to rain. Three minutes and we were done. That’s the way to clear customs. We motioned Greg to come over and his smile could not of been bigger. The next day we took everything out: HF radio, antenna brackets, extra fuel lines, pumps and bladder. It only took a couple of hours to have the interior back together. I spent the next 2 hours helping Greg transition into his new plane. He did great.

We were very happy to be on the ground because a storm system developed in Cairns and was moving down the coast to Sydney. While moving through Brisbane Saturday morning it dumped 6 inches of rain in 2 hours. Greg had a big party for Henson and me. My buddy Bryan, who started this all, came up from Sydney and we had a wonderful night with our friends and Greg’s family.

This project would of never gotten done with out the help of Henson Bartle, Doug Davis, David Ullman, Al Cleveland, Aero Larson, Mike Billiar, Robin Reid, Rusty Poage, Joe Dubner, Matt and Anne Matthews and Paul Cole.

The most important person is my wife Donna. She puts up with my hobby of aviation. Some people golf, I play with airplanes. Looking back at everything about this trip, it was one of the greatest adventures I could have had with my son, Henson. The airplane was perfect in every way a Super Lancair ES could be by carrying that load of fuel.With the 270 gallons of fuel it still was 1 inch in front of the rear center of gravity limit. All throttled back and lean of peak it would do 168 knots true. We never could get favorable winds to get up to the high teens where it would do 190 to 200 knots. This Continental used, after running for over 50 hours, 1 quart of oil. I kept teasing Greg that I was going to take this motor home with me. I cannot rave enough about the new Garmin G3X touch screens and the GTN 750. The autopilot worked perfectly, except when the HF would kick it off line. I met and made so many new friends. Over 41 hours of over water flying, 3 hours of concerning weather and 10 minutes of terror. Would I do it again? Maybe.