I write this on 7 April 2011, four months after my initial target for completing my mission of visiting all the places in the ‘I’ve been everywhere’ song. Things were going so well. Place after place was visited, my journal updated and a sense of completion was starting to wash over me. Just three places remained, surely success was within my grasp?
Apparently not as something happened. It rained. It then rained some more. In fact, I don’t believe it has stopped raining! Australian rain records (and droughts) have been broken and along with the records, the roads. Indeed, when I check the roads to Birdsville, Oodnadatta and Tibooburra (something I do on a weekly basis!) they are all in various states of closure.
This mission of ‘just visiting a few places’ is now taking on a new dimension. And just like my favorite Indiana Jones movie, I feel I have three places of such cunning to overcome. But overcome I will – drastic situations require drastic measures!
So, how am I going to reach these final three locations? Well, it started today by swapping my four wheels, for three. That is three wheels, two wings – and a rather snazzie fan up the front. It’s also known as a Cessna 172.
Of course, just jumping in an aircraft and heading off into the sunset would be simple. Well, it perhaps would be if my two yearly flight review was not due. So, I’ve started the process of making sure my Private Pilots Licence (PPL) is current and the trip can be completed legally. This started at Warnervale Airport and the Central Coast Aero Club with the commencement of my Biennial Flight Review. Following a break in flying, I can say it was a fantastic hour.
Whether its a geek thing, I’m not sure, but flying light aircraft has it all. Lining up, increasing the engine speed and commencing a take-off roll from a standing start to a point where you can actually fly (yes, fly!) is truly exhilarating. Imagine a subtle start as the sound increases and movement begins to transform into a burst of energy. The runway slowly turns from a textured surface into a blur of speed. Breaking from the ground at 55 knots turns this road going machine into an airborne craft that no only goes right and left, but up and down. Amazing.
As I look out the window I am not blessed with a sun-drenched vista. Today it is grey, but not a dull boring grey. Todays grey is full of a variable wind and rain, often heavy at times, making each take-off and landing different from the last. Any thoughts of work have long disappeared from my head – controlling a machine in flight and taking in the surroundings are filling my senses with an adrenaline fueled pleasure. But alas, good things come to an end and Andrew, my instructor, advises we make the next landing a full stop and the sixty minutes of flight (that feels like five) comes to an end.
I’ve still got a theory refresher and a some more flying to complete for my review, but if this is like todays adventure, I can’t wait.
I’m now hoping to finish my mission by the end of 2011 with the great folks at The Fred Hollows Foundation extending my fundraising permission until this date. So, if you haven’t already, please consider making a donation by clicking the ‘Donations’ button to the right of this page. 100% of donations go to the appeal. Thank you.