Van's Aircraft Total Performance RV Kit Planes

Jon Johanson – Trip West

During Jon's second trip, he carried a notebook computer with modem. Every couple of days, Jon sent an e-mail journal of his progress. This section describing Jon's trip West is a compilation of these journal entries. It has been slightly edited for space limitations.

Moorabbin to Port Lincoln
Friday 21st June

Started early with the usual rush to get everything done. Arriving at Moorabbin before the workers. While we were getting NOJ ready and trying to appease "Kingsford", who was most upset that I had been to see his friends at Wesburn without him. The Media arrived to film final preparations.

By 9.30 a.m. the crowd were all waiting for me to be presented with the Oswald Watt medal. I felt very privileged and honored to be presented with Australia's highest aviation medal. I guess it all goes to show that if you have a dream and just keep plodding after it, it is amazing what you can achieve. No one has been more surprised than me.

After leaving Moorabbin with the media helicopters escorting us, GTV9 - HSV7 - ABC, Kingsford and I circled the city for filming before heading West. The weather was not looking so good towards Perth but we traveled on. Bad weather forecasts have forced a stop a Port Lincoln (S34 36'25" E135 52'44") with my good friends, the Warren family. We wait for the bad weather to pass. Having the option of landing is a luxury not enjoyed when I am flying over ocean.

After landing at Port Lincoln I was met by a number of aviation enthusiasts and friends who treated me to the typical Port Lincoln hospitality. Kingsford is still complaining at having to guard NOJ, he says that NOJ does not need guarding in Australia and that he should be having a good time with me as well.

It looks like I will be having a day off as I wait for the weather to improve before going on to Perth.

Port Lincoln to Perth
Monday 24th June

Departed Port Lincoln for Perth (Jandakot). The flight took 8hrs. 32 min's. Weather was no problem, some low cloud but VFR all the way.
Met on landing by Graham Taylor - RV-6A builder. Lots of jobs, schools to see, people to meet. Next leg Karratha.

Perth to Karratha
Tuesday 25th June

Departed Perth this morning with the usual media, except not as many helicopters as normal. Departed from in front of the WA Aero Club, where I was seen off by the Head of Air Services Australia, the President of the WA Aero Club, and the President Royal Federation of Aero Clubs Australia. It took 5 hrs. 22 min's to Karratha (S20 42'73" E116 46'40"). The views were of the typical WA outback, very spectacular.

Met at Karratha by SAAA Paul O'Connor and his wife Sheryl, who promptly helped me change the oil, refuel, and generally prepare NOJ for the next leg to COCOS Island.

I will hopefully be visiting a number of schools tomorrow before leaving. I guess I will be busy.

Karratha to Cocos
Friday 28th June

Departed Karratha at about 9:26 a.m. local time, arriving at Cocos Island at about 4.58 p.m. local time. Total time of 9:03. Total distance was 1256 km, which gave a ground speed of 139 kts (275 k.p.h.).

At about 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning I plan to leave for Rodrigues which is 1983 km away (initial track 257), so I am looking at about 15 hours of flying. Less if the winds are kind.

Time I was in bed so this is short. The flight was good, about 10 minutes of IFR only.

Cocos to Rodrigues
Saturday 29th June

Departed Cocos Islands at 3:36 a.m. this morning landing at Rodrigues 13:55. A very interesting day. After four hours flying I was told to return to Cocos as I did not have a clearance to land in Rodrigues. Eventually the Perth controllers convinced the powers, that if I could fly over Rodrigues then land in Mauritius, then I could continue.

I was not sure about having enough fuel, but at the time I had good tail winds and thought that despite flying low and using more fuel than I would at a higher altitude, there were strong head winds above five thousand feet, I might just make it.

As it turned out, by the time I was over Rodrigues I would have had to swim the last few miles into Mauritius if I continued. Landing at Rodgrigues seemed to make the most sense.

After a lot of paper work, I was assisted with fuel and we started to arrange a clearance to Mauritius. This will take a while!

Rodrigues is a small island with about 35,000 people. Farming and fishing are the most common industries with tourism coming next. The people are very friendly and mostly speak Creole which is very close to French. English is also spoken by many of them so communication has not been a problem.

The island itself is very rocky and not unlike our own northwest as far as climate is concerned. Cyclones affect the island throughout the cyclone season with the result of the high rain fall evident, but in the dry season it is very dry, which means that unlike Mauritius, the Rodrigans are not able to grow sugar cane.

Rodrigues seems to be a very attractive tropical island where enjoying the scenery, fishing, and getting to know the local people would be the things to do.

Rodrigues to Mauritius
Sunday 30th June

Finally departed Rodrigues (S19 45.48 E063 21.72) at 11:04 a.m. today, 2:31 later I arrived in Mauritius (S20 25.80 E057 40.97) where I was met by most of the top officials from Mauritius DCA, and many police.

After explaining why I had landed on Rodrigues in great detail to every one individually, and after filling in numerous forms, I finally left the airport at about 7 p.m. with only my submitted flight plan to show for the days work.

I was able to make a few phone calls to people at home and let them all know that I was OK and that I had arrived safely.

I am in a hotel not too far from the airport. Looking forward to writing in detail exactly what happened yesterday and today. CASA would be proud of these guys.

Met one of the Air Mauritius pilots who trained at the Australian Aviation College in Adelaide. It was good meeting someone who had the same friends and knew of the same places.

Have just received a call from Air Traffic Control informing me that I will be able to depart tomorrow morning as planned, so all being well I will depart for Durban in the morning.

Mauritius to Durban
Monday 1st July

Departed Mauritius (S20 25.80 E057 40.97) for Virginia airport Durban (S29 46.25 E030 57.10) 1558nm (2885 km). Flight time was 11:57 giving a ground speed of 130 knots (241 kph).

After a good nights sleep, it was up at 5 a.m. to continue the battle with various departments. The 2 km walk to the airport was a refreshing way to start.

Negotiating with the guards was made easy with my AOPA crew ID card, but from there on nothing else came easy. Departure time was for 8 a.m.

All of the flight paper work was attended to with no problems from the tower, in fact the tower personnel were the most helpful of all. Before I departed one controller spent more than an hour trying to overcome the obstacles put up by various authorities. Getting fuel and finding RV-4 in the international register of aircraft to work out the airways charges was all too difficult.

After meeting with a number of Air Mauritius pilots and having a good laugh about what I was getting up to, the consensus was that two Pratt and Whitneys were barely enough, so I had to be crazy.

I went for my final round table conference with the top men from DCA. When they had finally covered every possible way of their being held responsible for my actions, they came out and had a close look at NOJ. They were unable to hide their amazement at what I had been able to achieve in such a small aircraft. I went to great lengths to point out that being single engined and custom built was not as dangerous as some would have them believe. I hope they now have a better understanding of private aviation and the benefits of allowing pilots to build and fly their own aircraft.

By far the majority of those met in Mauritius were very nice people but very much held back by the "rules." I would like to one day visit Mauritius and enjoy the people and their country.

The flight from Mauritius took me over Reunion Island, the bottom of Madagascar, and finally into Durban with a lot of water in between. After the start to the day being delayed 4 hours, it had been eleven and a half hours in flight. Breaking out of cloud to see the lights of Durban was great.

Despite it being after 10 p.m. there were a number of very friendly people to meet me, all giving me a warm South African welcome. When I asked about Customs I could hardly believe it when they told me I didn't have to worry until tomorrow when we would "drop by their office".

It seems that there is going to be quite a reception for me in Johannesburg, with even a Kingair load of media flying out to escort me in, along with the first South African RV-6 and a number of other aircraft. I can see I am going to be busy in the next few days.

Durban to Johannesburg
Thursday 4th July

Since my last message I haven't had much time to write. Changed the oil etc. in Durban. Was spoilt rotten by Graham and Sally McDonald, Noel Drew (South Africa's first RV flyer, RV-6) and many others.

Noel Drew escorted me in his RV-6 for 2:10 Virginia to Vereeniging where we met the press etc. before flying into Johannesburg (Grand Central). Formated with a Kingair, C-172, Grumman, and RV-6 for media air to air shots.

Once on the ground the media show continued for an hour or more. Was spoilt some more before having to speak to local EAA members. Finally made it to bed about 1 a.m.

Up at 5 a.m. and off to the main TV studio for some live TV work then off to visit more aviators. Back to the airport to see Noel Drew off, then home to catch up on some E-mails!

Tonight I will be talking at a public meeting and will no doubt be up till late again but I am enjoying all the new friends and so far haven't noticed the short nights.

The local coverage has been well done with lots of coverage of both NOJ and local EAA, so every one seems to be pleased with that.

Not sure yet as to when I will go up to Victoria Falls but it could be tomorrow or the next day then it will be down to Port Elizabeth and Capetown before departing Africa for Oshkosh.

Grand Central to Port Elizabeth
Wednesday 10th July

Departed Grand Central (S25 59.0 E028 09.0) for Port Elizabeth (S33 59.4 E018 49.4) at about 1pm. Tracked over Bloemfontein (S29 05.6 E026 18.3) arriving at Port Elizabeth by about 5:30pm.

There had been quite a bit of snow on the mountains, so by tracking further west I kept away from the worst of it. It is definitely winter here, the frost on the ground at Pretoria stayed there until after 10am, with some roads being closed in Jo'burg due to the ice. Apparently the roads to Durban have been closed for a few days due to the snow, so being at Vic Falls was a good way of getting away from the cold for a while.

South Africa is an attractive country to fly over and interesting from an Australian aviators point of view. The majority of airports inland are higher than most in Oz. Grand Central being 5300 odd feet above sea level for example.

A lot of the country seems to be unused when you look at it from above. There are a lot of very rocky areas and a lot of mountains with little farming communities in the valleys. In all harsh and yet attractive, not unlike Australia.

On arrival in Port Elizabeth I was met by a group of enthusiasts who were very keen to look at NOJ. The media were in attendance as well, it seems that this midwife who is flying around the world is creating a lot of interest.

The public meeting held later in the evening was well attended with question time taking longer than the talking time. We then went over to the hangar and had a good look at NOJ with even more questions.

South Africa has impressed me by the number of rebuild projects that are undertaken. Real basket cases are coming out as extremely well rebuilt aircraft. I was taken to see a Piper Swift project being done in a single car garage. The workmanship was amazing and I am sure that when the project is completed that this particular Swift will be better than new.
Today I am being shown around Port Elizabeth and tomorrow it will be into Stellenbosch (Capetown) (S33 58.9 E018 49.4) for a midday reception by the local media and flying fraternity.

Port Elizabeth to Capetown to East London
Sunday 14th July

Departed Port Elizabeth (S29 05.6 E026 18.3) at about 9:30am on the 11th arriving at Stellenbosch (Cape Town) (S33 58.9) at about 12:25pm. Had a very rough ride due to the northwest wind coming over the mountains. I had stayed down low to get some good pictures and try and do some videoing but it was so rough that I have no idea what will be the result of my efforts.

Was met by the usual contingent of media and a number of aero club/EAA members, again a very nice bunch of people. Made it into the papers with some good pictures etc. this morning.

Charles Bucklow looked after me taking me to his home in Simon's Town. The Bucklow residence is right on the bay over looking a once very sensitive naval base, and has a spectacular view. Cape Town is a beautiful city with an outstanding back drop. Not only is Table mountain beautiful but so is the bay and the whole surrounding area. I really fell for Cape Town.

Last night I talked at the Stellenbosch aero club to about 30 or so aviators, their friends, and family. There was all the usual questions and amazement at the size of NOJ. This morning the aero club put on a Cessna 175 to fly with me over Cape Town to get some pictures of NOJ with the mountain and city as background.

Departed Stellenbosch at about 2:15pm to overfly Cape Town International (S33 58.1 E018 36.4) on my way to East London (S33 02.1 E027 49.4) to attend the first air show to be held there in about 29 years. It turns out that they have made quiet a fuss of me, featuring Kingsford, myself, and NOJ on both the front and center pages of their local paper. It seems that this airshow is going to be a fairly big event with the South African Air Force taking a large part in it along with many other aviators from all over South Africa.

Flying to East London I enjoyed my first tail winds since departing Oz arriving just over three hours after departing Stellenbosch. When I arrived I was informed by the South African aero clubs president that I was to be awarded the national record in the C1B class for today's flight. With the Australia versus South Africa rugby coming up tonight and having an Aussie taking a local record the general feeling is that it should spur the locals on to not only beating my record but also into setting a lot more for themselves.

Tomorrow I have been asked to fly in the air show and will no doubt be kept busy for the day.

Sunday I will be leaving early for Upington (S28 24.1 E021 15.7) to clear Customs etc. on my way to Walvis Bay (S22 59.0 E014 39.0) so that I can depart early Monday morning for Brazil. (via Asscention Island (S07 58.2 W014 23.6)).

East London to Walvis Bay to Ascension
Wednesday 17th July

Departed East London (S33 02.1 E027 49.4) for Upington (S28 24.1 E021 15.7). Good weather interesting country. Landed at Upington refueled and passed through Customs etc. talked to some of the local pilots for a short while before departing for Walvis Bay (S22.59.0 E014 39.0) arriving there with a total flying time of 7:09 from East London.

East London Airshow went very well with very good attendances and a lot of media coverage as well. I don't know that I will ever get used to seeing my picture in so many places.East London Airshow went very well with very good attendances and a lot of media coverage as well. I don't know that I will ever get used to seeing my picture in so many places.

Met and talked to many people, also showed NOJ to many adults and children. My flying seemed to go over well with a very good commentary being given during the flight from all accounts.

Changed the oil and did a general inspection of NOJ before getting to bed ready for the early departure the next day.

From Upington there was a marked change in the landscape with my first look at real desert. Quite beautiful really but also very harsh. Tried to get some digital pictures but they did not come out well enough, I think I was too high.

Met some of the local aviators in Walvis Bay who looked after me very well. Cone, the local hotel owner and aviator, put me up for half of the night and then took me out to the airport at 2am ready for the 3am departure.

Departed Walvis Bay for Fortaleza (S03 46.6 W038 31.9) via Ascension Island (S07 58.2 W014 23.6). As I was approaching Ascension my oil pressure started to fluctuate and the oil temp was rising so I asked for landing clearance on Ascension to check out the problem. I could not raise any one on either the HF or the VHF radios despite numerous attempts. Finally when I was about 60 miles out from the Island an American voice wanted to know who I was etc. After having to hold for a while and having to declare an emergency (better over Ascension than over the water) I was allowed to land. (13:40 total time).

The RAF were very friendly and made me feel welcome but the Americans were far from friendly, in fact they had every intention of locking me up. The local police were more interested in my money than any thing else, they demanded that I stay in their accommodation at 43 pounds per night. The actual units were not five star and at about A$100 I was not very impressed especially as the RAF people were wanting me to stay with them for less than A$15.

As I write this I have not yet been locked up although I have not been able to get through on the phone to let an one know where I am and my passport has not been returned so today could be an interesting one.

Ascension to Recife
Wednesday 17th July

Departed Ascension Island for Fortaleza but about two hours out was told to go to Recife (S08 07.6 W034 55.3) as there is no customs in Fortaleza. 8:16 later landed in Recife.

This morning I had a meeting with the acting administrator of Ascension Island, Bill Wilkie, Wing Comander John Boyd, RAF, and Major Steve Hill, USAF. No major dramas really but it was made abundantly clear that I was not meant to be there and that I could be fined very heavily for being there. The long and the short of it was simply that no civilians are allowed to land on Ascension, none have done so for a very long time, if at all, and I was to tell everyone that should they ever be in the same situation as I was that they would not be treated as well as I was. I guess emergencies are not allowed?

Some extra oil and fuel as well as a meal with the administrator later and I was on my way.

It turns out that there is a 50 year old agreement with the UK and the USA that says "no civilian aircraft allowed to land on the air field". No matter what I might think I must abide by the rules of whatever country I happen to be in even if I see no sense in their rules, so I guess that I may have been wiser to have landed in the ocean than on Ascension Island. As it turned out I landed at Recife with enough fuel left that I could have made it safely, with out the 200 liters I put on at Ascension (pity about the oil).

I am discovering that Brazil is not the cheapest place in the world. With their Avgas costing more than in Ascension to start with and having to pay for a whole host of things that I don't usually, I will be a whole lot poorer when I leave.

I am planning to have tomorrow off or at least until midnight tomorrow when I will be leaving the hotel for the airport and eventually departing for Barbados (N13 04.3 W059 29.5). I am looking at about 15+ hours on paper, mainly because of having to come into Recife rather than Fortaleza. Either way I will be pleased to get to Barbados.

Recife to Barbados
Saturday 20th July

Departed Recife (S08 07.6 W034 55.3) at about 3am. local time arriving at Barbados (N13 04.3 W059 29.5) 13:55 later.

Had a relaxing day in Recife that is if you call catching up on all my Email relaxing. It is more relaxing on my tail end than sitting in NOJ that is for sure. Basically I spent the day trying to find some one who could speak English and trying to get the message out to the local aviators that I was in town. My Spanish is almost non existent so I was not very successful. I met one young fellow who was most excited to have met me. It turned out that he was just starting to learn to fly, when he learnt of what I was doing and saw pictures of NOJ he couldn't believe that he had actually met some one who was doing some thing like I am. A very friendly fellow who had many laughs at my Spinglish.

My general impressions of Recife were that it is a city not unlike cities in Asia. Many crowded corrugated iron buildings, street side stalls, a lot of long grass and unkept areas, and also many people on the streets at all hours of the day and night. Very nice beach fronts.

Managed to bypass most of the paper work by using a ground agent. Not speaking Spanish would have been a real problem. My agent was an interesting fellow, he was originally from Portugal having lived in Brazil for the past 20 years. He was most apologetic at having to ask me for US$90 just for my landing fees, (Sydney is not the only airport in the world trying to discourage aviation).

The weather was again good to me with only two hours of IFR flying in stratoform cloud. I was on top of cloud though which does not give you a real good look at the country. Better to fly above cloud than below it in the rain etc. Crossed the Equator right on 13:18UTC on the 18/7/'96. Not very exciting really just watched the GPS click over while out side all I could see was jungle, (lots of it), a rather big river and a lot of brown ocean. I found it interesting that I was made to fly over the jungle rather than over the water, I know were I would rather do a forced landing if I had to. Finally made it to Barbados, a very attractive place from the air. On the ground it was a little different. I was met by a couple of grumpy Customs officials, not hard to get on with but I don't think they had smiled in years. They then drove off after pointing in a vague type of way as to where to go. After having to make three trips back to the aircraft for a number of officials who were more interested in being anywhere other than where they were, people who were in general more obstructionist than helpful, I was not overly impressed. We need to beat them at cricket more often to give them some thing to complain about.

Refueled at US$2.90 a US gallon then found my way to the nearest hotel for a well deserved sleep. Should be leaving early Monday morning for the U.S.A., Ft Lauderdale (N26 11.8 W080 10.2).

Barbados to Ft. Lauderdale
Monday 22nd July

Departed Barbados (Adams International)(N13 04.3 W059 29.5) at about 4am. local time arriving at Ft. Lauderdale Executive airport (N26 11.8 W080 10.2) 9:58 later.

Enjoyed the break for the day but decided that I should make the most of the time and rather than sit about doing nothing I lashed out, hired a car and drove for more than 150 km. The Barbadons know how to get your money, despite Barbados being on the international license list they will not accept any license other than their own, so $10 later you can now drive. Hiring a car is also expensive, about US$65 for a small manual per day. After hiring a car in Norfolk Island for A$20 per day you can't help but wonder.

Driving around the Island was very interesting, primarily you must keep out of the way of their buses. The Barbados bus drivers leave a lot to be desired. The Island itself varies from a very wind swept landscape to rain forest to a tropical paradise. There are people everywhere with buildings ranging from just plain opulent to, on average, very poor quality. Some of the grounds are second to none with beautiful gardens and exquisite outlooks while the majority of the island has paper and plastic rubbish all over the place. After driving all day I saw a fair bit of Barbados and generally enjoyed being there, the average person was very friendly and cheerful. They need to talk to there Customs and Immigration staff though. I think they take grumpy pills before work each day.

The flight to Ft. Lauderdale was another good weather day with about two hours of night flying and less than five minutes of IFR. Flying over the Bahamas was really spectacular with some of the bluest blues I have ever seen, and more airports than I had ever imagined all on very low sandy cayes. Beautiful.

I was met at Ft. Lauderdale by Vic and Pat Boyce, expat ozzies of USA Corby Starlet fame, and treated to American hospitality. Out for tea with a few other aviators. Showed NOJ off to a number of other aviation enthusiasts etc.

Today we have been out for breakfast, talked to the media, organized to fly up to Kennedy Space Center, and in general met a number of people. We are now about to go out again so I had best get this off now and fill you in on my next leg later.

Ft. Lauderdale to Kennedy Space Center
Thursday 25th July

Departed Ft. Lauderdale (N26 11.8 W080 10.2) on Monday for Space Center Executive (N28 30.8 W080 47.9) where I landed 59min. later. Departed Space Center Executive for Mineral Wells Texas (N32 46.9 W098 03.6), landing 6:54 later.

Tuesday departed Mineral Wells for Johnson County Executive (near Kansas City) (N38 50.8 W094 44.2). Flight time 2:58.

Monday I was met by Byron Maynard at the airport just out side the Kennedy Space Center. Byron is building an RV-6A, his main job is working with the experiments loaded onto the shuttles, so I couldn't have had a better guide to show me around. I was surprised to find out that the Space Shuttle is an experimental aircraft, it makes sense when you think of it but I guess I was always thinking in the Australian mode. What a nightmare trying to do some thing like that in Australia.

The whole Shuttle program is awesome. What struck me most was what people can accomplish when they work together as a team. The logistics of simply moving the Shuttle to the launch site are staggering without thinking of anything else. Inside the building where most of the preparation work is done the size of the project really comes home to you. The building stands some sixty odd stories high with the worlds biggest doors on the sides to let everything out. Even after seeing it, it is still hard to believe. It puts a whole new outlook on "custom building". Seeing the Space Center was a real privilege and one I won't forget.

Before leaving I talked with the media for more than one hour with a number of pictures being taken around the center so there could be some interesting coverage come out of the space center visit. After leaving there I flew to Mineral Wells, Texas. This is the home of S-TEC the company very well known for their auto pilots and more recently for taking over the Collins line of radios. After a good nights sleep Kenneth Paul showed me around the S-TEC facilities.

S-TEC are about to move into new premises which everyone is looking forward to and after seeing them I can understand why. When you know that S-TEC started as General Aviation and took such a big nose dive you can't help but realize their product had to be very good to survive. Obviously the team behind the company had a lot to do with their survival as well. Meeting those people and being able to put faces to voices was another privilege.

After meeting a number of the local aviators I departed for Johnson County Executive where I was meet by Jon Cass at from GARMIN International. GARMIN manufacture the GPS units that I use and are leading the field in new GPS technology. Some of their latest gadgetry is really amazing. I will be helping GARMIN with some of their marketing and in between times I may even get to play with some of their latest equipment. GPS is really changing aviation, not only making navigation easier but over all safer. Any increase in safety is more than welcome.

Before leaving the airport I met a very enthusiastic bunch of fellows who had not long been flying their prototype "Legend" a tandem modern day Mustang for want of a better way of putting it. What an aircraft, 600 odd V8 horse power pulling a very sleek airframe along at 230 plus knots with a VNE (maximum speed) of 500kts. I won't be taking them on with NOJ. A very friendly bunch of fellows and justifiably proud of their aircraft.
Tomorrow (24/7/'96) I will be going to Kirksville (N40 05.6 W092 32.6) for a day or so off before traveling to Oshkosh via SENSENICH the propeller people.

Kirksville to Lancaster
Monday 29th August

Departed Kirksville (N45 05.6 W092 32.6) for Lancaster (N40 07.3 W076 17.7) arriving 4:47 later.

After a good rest and a chance to catch up with my parents and our friends the O'Briens it was back on the road again. This time to Lancaster Pennsylvania and the home of the Sensenich metal propeller factory.

Following a fairly straight forward flight with only a little cloud to contend with just short of Lancaster, I was met at the airport by Ed Zercher and some of other people who recognized NOJ, it seems that this little RV-4 is becoming well known.

The Sensenich factory is a very interesting place to visit. For a propeller company that is as well known as Sensenich it comes as a surprise to find out that there is a total staff of only nine.

Being shown through the factory and meeting the people who actually made the prop that takes NOJ around the world was a real high light for me. I found it fascinating to watch as the men and machinery working on the raw prop billets finally came out with the propellers as we know them.

Tomorrow it will be off to Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4), weather permitting. The weather is not expected to be real flash tonight and tomorrow so I will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Lancaster to Oshkosh
Tuesday 30th August

Departed Lancaster (N40 07.3 W076 17.7) for Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4) arriving 4:32 later.

After having a good talk with the weather man I decided that I would have a look at how far I could get toward Oshkosh. The weather was not very good but I felt it was worth trying anyway.

Departed in overcast conditions and headed north west over beautiful wooded country. Flew through some rain and dodged a number of storms. Flying in the U.S.A. is a real pleasure, I found the controllers more than helpful. They gave me weather avoidance advice through out the flight as well as information on any aircraft that came within my range as well as local advice on suggested routes to take that would make the flight that little easier.

Kirksville to Lancaster
Monday 29th August

Departed Kirksville (N45 05.6 W092 32.6) for Lancaster (N40 07.3 W076 17.7) arriving 4:47 later.

After a good rest and a chance to catch up with my parents and our friends the O'Briens it was back on the road again. This time to Lancaster Pennsylvania and the home of the Sensenich metal propeller factory.

Following a fairly straight forward flight with only a little cloud to contend with just short of Lancaster, I was met at the airport by Ed Zercher and some of other people who recognized NOJ, it seems that this little RV-4 is becoming well known.

The Sensenich factory is a very interesting place to visit. For a propeller company that is as well known as Sensenich it comes as a surprise to find out that there is a total staff of only nine.

Being shown through the factory and meeting the people who actually made the prop that takes NOJ around the world was a real high light for me. I found it fascinating to watch as the men and machinery working on the raw prop billets finally came out with the propellers as we know them.

Tomorrow it will be off to Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4), weather permitting. The weather is not expected to be real flash tonight and tomorrow so I will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Lancaster to Oshkosh
Tuesday 30th August

Departed Lancaster (N40 07.3 W076 17.7) for Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4) arriving 4:32 later.

After having a good talk with the weather man I decided that I would have a look at how far I could get toward Oshkosh. The weather was not very good but I felt it was worth trying anyway.

Departed in overcast conditions and headed north west over beautiful wooded country. Flew through some rain and dodged a number of storms. Flying in the U.S.A. is a real pleasure, I found the controllers more than helpful. They gave me weather avoidance advice through out the flight as well as information on any aircraft that came within my range as well as local advice on suggested routes to take that would make the flight that little easier.

After finally making it through the worst of the weather I made it to an already fast filling Oshkosh. The air show does not officially start until Thursday but there are already thousands of aircraft on the field in anticipation of the week to come.

I landed on runway 27 at 20:02:58 UTC on the 30/7/'96. The controller, Bruce, happily filled out and faxed off to the RFACA the time and date information required for the records to Oshkosh.

While in the Oshkosh tower I was privileged to be able watch and hear the controllers in action. A formation of 60 plus aircraft arrived while I was there, what a sight, aircraft landing long, short, and in between all with out fuss and above all safely. Australia really has a lot to learn about air traffic control and the abilities of private pilots when they are trusted. Truly an amazing sight.

Being welcomed back to Oshkosh was exciting and once again the EAA has seen fit to place NOJ at the front of the flight line, just inside the EAA archway. Kingsford is again the star attraction, even more so with all of his additional badges.

Already I have been able to renew old friendships with many people welcoming me back. It's good to be back in Oshkosh.

In Oshkosh
Wednesday 31st August

Oshkosh hasn't started yet but already there are thousands of aircraft and people. The aircraft camping areas are already literally kilometers long with the straight camping area filled with thousands of tents and vans of all shapes and sizes.

The display areas are setting up with so many interesting aircraft that it is difficult to know where to go and look. This morning I worked for a while helping with the set up of Van's Aircraft display but ended up telling of my experiences rather than working. I have all ready met so many interesting people that I have almost talked myself out.

With NOJ parked right at the front gate I find that I end up talking nonstop whenever I am there. Most people are amazed at what we are doing and are also very pleased that this first for aviation is to be for a custom built aircraft piloted by a sport pilot.

Of course Kingsford is lapping up the attention which suits me down to the ground. I only wish he could do some of the talking, then again may be not.
I found that the day flew passed and I had not achieved half of what I had intended to get done. Tomorrow I will try and get some pictures to send back from Oshkosh '96.

In Oshkosh
Wednesday 7th July

Last year I thought Oshkosh was unbelievable and again this year it has been the same. There is so much to see and simply not enough time to see it all.

On the North side of Oshkosh is where the terminal building and hangars from the everyday Oshkosh are. During the air show this area fills up with factory aircraft and their camping occupants. This area also houses the many show participants' aircraft.

As you continue west around the end of the East West runway and back East on the other side to half way up the runway, there are more factory aircraft with campers. This area would be about three kilometers long and about fifteen aircraft wide. In Australian terms, more aircraft than Australia has in total.

At the end of this line the war birds start, about 460 of them. Mustangs, Corsairs, T28s, P40s, Grumman Avengers, Sky Raiders, Spitfires, Sea Furies, Migs, Sabers, B17s, Mitchell bombers, North American A26s, just to name a few. This does not include the modern ones, F15s, F16s, A6s, and even a B1 bomber parked further along the flight line.

As you move along the flight line beside the main show runway 18/36 (South/North) the custom built aircraft begin. Trying to list all of them would take a long time. There were well over one hundred RVs, by far the most common, many Lancairs, Glassairs, LongEzes, VaryEzes, T18s, Mustang 1 & 2s, Skybolts, Pitts, Christen Eagles, Stardusters, Quickies, KIS's, Questair Ventures, Falcoes, Barracuters, White Lightenings, SX300s, four different scale versions of the Mustang, a very rare CP Beryl, and many one-off or prototype aircraft.

Next comes the West ramp with the B1 bomber, F15, F16, the very unusual Boomerang, F89 Scorpion, Super Constellation, A6's, Harrier, GB replica, Sabers, Migs, B17's, F84, F100 super Saber, C46 Curtis Comander, Mosquito, Dehavilland Comet, to name some of those parked there.

Further South comes the Antiques with some of the most exquisite restorations you will ever see. Wacos of all kinds, a Davis Parasole, Moony Mites, Spartin Executive, Dehavilland Super Arrow, Stagerwing Beechcrafts, many Navions of all models, early Cessnas including an Airmaster from before the war, Ryan ST's, Monocoups, and many more that I did not recognize.

The Classics and Contemporaries were next followed by the Ultralights and Rotor craft clustered around their own short airstrip off to the West of the main runway. This area had many interesting aircraft ranging from antique ultralights through to some new prototypes and everything in between.

Beyond this area came more campers and their aircraft extending South for another kilometer.

The sea base situated about ten kilometers from the main airport had about 150 aircraft ranging from a 1920s Waco through to a Cessna Caravan on floats. Interestingly the 1920s Waco restoration was completed the day that it was flown to Oshkosh. The first take off was from a dolly with the first water landing being at Oshkosh about two and a half hours later.

In the corner of the two runways back from the flight line is the area where the Fly Market and aircraft manufacturers are situated. This area alone would keep even the most ardent anti aircraft individual intrigued for more than a day. If you loved aircraft getting lost here is very easy.

Moving South from here are the many buildings housing the literally hundreds of exhibitors ranging from aviation art through to the latest in glass cockpit technology. These areas could keep aviators occupied for more than a week without ever looking at the flight line.

The EAA museum situated South of the Western end of the East West runway is simply an amazing place to visit, even for those not interested in aircraft. This is an area that I find the most interesting but is also the area that I have the hardest time to find time to visit.

All in all Oshkosh is simply an amazing place for anyone to visit and despite having been here twice I have yet to be able to see it all.

Oshkosh is Over
Monday 12th August

Well Oshkosh is over for another year, the airport is empty with only the Oshkosh ghosts (the outlines on the grass of where the aircraft were parked) left. It is as if you are in a different part of the world.

Watching all the aircraft leave can be an experience in itself. The departing aircraft are lined up on the runway and one taxiway in pairs with the direction of departure dictating which side each aircraft is on. Up to four aircraft can depart at the same time off one runway with the next wave being only a few seconds behind. In this way a huge number of departures are achieved in a very short time.

Walking around the flight line after the aircraft have left is quite sad, it is as if all of your friends have left.

Things that really stand out as being highlights of Oshkosh would have to include some of the flying displays. The Northern Lights formation team would have to be the best that I have ever seen, simply amazing to watch their precision and obvious formation flying skills in action. I understand that they may be making it to Australia next year, I hope so.

Bob Hoover flying his Shrike Commander is always awe inspiring and a pleasure to watch. The GB replica flown by Delmar Benjamin is simply unbelievable, it looks like it should not fly but fly it does and very well. I could watch the GB for hours. Sean Tucker flying his special Pitts special, the French Connection in their Cap10Bs, Patty Wagstaff in her Extra 300S, Gene & Cheryl Littlefield with their wing walking show, Wayne Handly in various aerobatic aircraft, Bobby Younkin in his Twin Beech, Dan Buchanan in his hang glider, are just some of the most outstanding of the many participants.

Walking through the exhibition buildings and looking at the various displays is always interesting and very time consuming. There are many exciting new innovations and new themes on old stories. The latest electronic ignition system from Lightspeed Engineering caught my attention. Much better than the previous system and simple to fit with all of the advantages of an electronic ignition. Mountain High oxygen systems seem to be getting smaller and lasting longer on smaller amounts of Oxygen. The various emergency equipment outlets were very interesting with a number of improved designs of their wares. Emergency locators seem to be getting smaller and more powerful every time I look. The new GPS releases from Garmin were real hits as I had felt they would be.

Aviation related clothing could keep a person intrigued for hours with stalls having everything from T-shirts to leather flying jackets. There were embroidery stalls turning out some of the most amazing work of all kinds and colors, other places would measure you and custom make matching gear to go with your aircraft or whatever else you chose.

Most of the major aviation companies are represented at Oshkosh with stalls ranging in size from small to very large, not always in proportion to the company's size. The aircraft manufacturers were there with aircraft ranging from jets to trainers. New releases are often unveiled at Oshkosh and some times old releases being re-released, one well known 40 year old design comes to mind in this category. Basically if you can't find it at Oshkosh, it can't be found.

As most were leaving I moved NOJ over to the EAA hangar ready to do the maintenance needed before continuing on back to Oz. Moving in amongst aircraft like the B17, Mustang, Corsair, Dehavilland Mosquito and Comet was a rare privilege. NOJ almost disappears beside these aircraft.

Last year after the show I was working on NOJ when one of the EAA volunteers decided to have a cardiac arrest not far from where I was working. After sending him off to the nearest hospital I did not feel too confident regarding his chances. Later in the year after getting back home I received a letter from Frank telling me of his recovery. This year I was able to meet Frank and his wife Elizabeth, a privilege I had not expected. Frank is definitely better company this year than he was last year. I am now being spoilt by Frank and Elizabeth who have been looking after me since the end of Oshkosh.

Last Thursday Frank told Paul Poberezeny (the founder of the EAA) that I would love to have a ride in his Mustang so on Friday I felt more than privileged to have a ride with Paul in the Mustang, what an experience. Later in the day after finishing the oil change etc. on NOJ I had a look through the B17. I find it hard to express the emotion of being in an aircraft and seeing what it was like in the war. Every thing was cramped and so unprotected and yet young men with very little experience would head off into war knowing that one third of them would never come back. Frightening, very hard to understand, and yet awe inspiring. After the B17 I sat in the Corsair, if only they had left the keys for me. The Corsair would have to be one of my favorite World War Two fighters, to be able to spend time in the cockpit was just one more privilege topping off a day I will never forget.

This weekend I am staying with Frank and Elizabeth before setting off from Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4) to Peoria (N40 39.8 W089 41.6) on my next leg.

Oshkosh to Kirksville
Monday 19th August

Departed Oshkosh (N43 59.0 W088 33.4) 12/8/96, landing at Peoria (N40 39.8 W089 41.6) 1:30 later. Departed Peoria 13/8/96, landed at Kirksville (N40 05.6 W092 32.6) 1:06 later.

Departing Oshkosh was a little sad. Like all good-byes this one was no easier than all of the others. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with Frank and Elizabeth and feel privileged to know them.

Before leaving Oshkosh I spoke with a reporter from Wisconsin's largest newspaper for about an hour then spent some time talking with Paul Poberezney and Chuck Larson from the EAA.

As I took off I looked down on the fading Ghosts of Oshkosh and found it difficult to believe that only a few days previously there had been more aircraft there than Australia has in total.

Flying to Peoria I was again impressed with the ease of flying in America, it is a real pleasure.

Peoria is situated on the Illinois river. Not a very big city but it is the home of Caterpillar. My father sold Caterpillar tractors for years when I was a child so I was very pleased to be able to tour through the Cat facilities at Peoria.

The next morning our friends the O'Briens, my father and I were met and escorted through the transmission manufacturing and assembly factory then through the larger Cat Dozer assembly line.

As a child I remember seeing a D9 and being amazed at how big it was. Nowadays Cat is making the D11 which makes the D9 look small. Seeing such large machinery being assembled was another highlight for me. Quite amazing really when you realize that the blade on the D11 is wider than the wing span of NOJ.

We were all treated like VIPs which is always nice. Following a demonstration of many of the Cat machines we were given a gold Caterpillar VIP pin which Kingsford is now wearing along with all of his other additions from Oshkosh.

I didn't feel at all bad being left at the airport knowing that I had about one hours flying to do to get to Kirksville while the others would have to drive for four hours to do the same trip. Flying really is the way to go, safer too.

The next few days I am to become a tourist as we will be traveling to visit Hannibal an area to the South East of Kirksville. When we get back from there I will be flying on to Ft. Collins (N40 27.1 W105 00.7) to spend some time in Colorado. I will be speaking to a couple of groups while there also.

Kirksville to Ft. Collins-Loveland
Wednesday 21st August

Departed Kirksville (N40 05.6 W092 32.6) arriving at Ft. Collins-Loveland (N40 27.1 W105 00.7) 4:06 later.

Before leaving Kirksville our friends took us to Hannibal, the birth place of Samuel Clements or, as most of us know him, Mark Twain. Hannibal is a smaller city on the Mississippi river.

Looking through the Mark Twain museum gave a very good insight into the life of a remarkable man and author. Being able to visit the sights of Hannibal and relating them to the stories of Tom Sawyer and company really added life to the stories I had read many years ago while I was still in school. I never realized how many books had been written by Mark Twain until I visited Hannibal, he was quite a prolific writer.

On our way back from Hannibal the weather closed in and it began to rain, not real heavy but by the next morning we had received 37mm. The weather in America follows completely different patterns to those in Australia. It was still drizzling the next morning when I took off from Kirksville for Ft Collins. The low cloud meant that I had to fly above cloud for most of the four hour flight. The last 100nm was in clear skies enabling me to see the miles of farming land typical of the plains east of the Rocky mountains.

Arriving at Ft Collins I was met by my friend Dean Hall and a number of other aviation enthusiasts who were keen to look over NOJ and talk about aviation. Dean has a unicycle in his hangar so I could not resist the opportunity. In good Australian fashion the bets were placed on me being able to ride it. Real high stakes, if I could I would be shouted lunch, if not then I was shouting. The free lunch tasted good, but I don't think I could make a living out of the unicycle.

Later in the day Dean flew his RV-4 in formation with NOJ over to Longmont (N40 09.8 W105 09.7) where we enjoyed the evening talking with the local EAA chapter. It is always enjoyable meeting new friends and being able to share the NOJ story.

For the next week or so I will be enjoying this part of Colorado and some of the Rocky mountains, I will also be talking to a few different groups while I am here so I am sure to be kept busy.

Ft. Collins-Loveland
Friday 23rd August

I have been in Ft Collins for a few days now and I have been busy every day.

Dean and Ruth Hall have been looking after me as if I was part of their family. I feel very privileged spending time in their home and with such nice people.

Last Sunday Dean and I flew our RV-4s over to a fly-in at Greeley (N40 25.6 W104 37.9) where we met and talked to a number of very friendly people. Leaving there we flew in formation with Ivan, a retired Air Force pilot, leading the way. Ivan has been flying since before the second world war and would have forgotten more about aviation than I will ever know.

Tuesday lunch time I spoke at the Loveland Rotary club to about 100 people then in the evening I spoke again to EAA chapter 515. In between this Dean took me to visit a restoration hangar where we looked at a Firefly, a Hurricane and a Spitfire all in the process of being restored.

Today we flew into America's highest airport, Leadville. Dean was in his RV-4 with a friend Rob as his passenger. Fred, another new friend, flew in with his RV-6A and of course myself in NOJ.

Leadville is 9927 feet above sea level and with the temperature being 23 degrees C we were effectively flying at more than 13000 feet (density height). With Australia's highest airport being only about 3500 feet high today's flying was quite a challenge. Flying at 14500 feet above sea level and being only 500 feet above the ground is something that few Australian pilots ever get to experience.

Flying around in the Rocky Mountains can only be described as awesome, with quite a bit of snow still on the ground from last winter. Scenery ranging from extremely rocky crags, partly frozen lakes, grand mountain ranges, and beautifully wooded valleys, it really needs to be seen to be believed.

Tomorrow morning I will be helping Dean work on his aircraft then later in the day the local media will be out to see NOJ.

Ft. Collins to Jackson Hole
Monday 2nd September

Departed Ft Collins-Loveland (N40 27.1 W105 00.7) for Jackson Hole (N43 36.4 W110 44.3) arriving 2:46 later.

Since my last contact I have met many more interesting people, talked with the media, worked on aircraft, generally had a good time, and caught up with my parents before they left for home.

Having spent a number of days in Ft. Collins where I was spoilt rotten by Dean and Ruth Hall it was a little difficult to leave. Dean is flying with me in his RV-4 to show me some more of the Rocky Mountains, this has made leaving a little easier.

Today we were accompanied by Jim and Wilma Winings in their RV-4 to Jackson Hole, they continued on to Sunset Park today but Dean and I will leave that until tomorrow.

Flying from Ft. Collins to Jackson Hole took us over some very interesting country. After climbing to 10500 feet we flew over the mountains West of Ft. Collins, not as high as the ones we flew over to Leadville but just as beautiful. A little further on we crossed over the Wyoming semi desert plains, very desolate but interesting in it's own way.

Once over the Wyoming plains we climbed to 14000 feet to fly along the Wind River Range. This range of mountains appears very rugged and spectacular but unfortunately was difficult to see due to smoke haze from a number of distant forest fires. Some miles out from Jackson Hole the haze cleared somewhat giving us a good view to the end of this range and on to the Tetons just west of Jackson Hole.

Arriving at Jackson we were met by Jim and Dorothy Ryel friends of Dean who are looking after us royally.

This afternoon Dean and I drove into the Teton National Park for a quick look. The grandeur of the Tetons is breath taking, simply awesome. Standing in the valley floor at 6500 feet and looking up at jagged peaks 8000 feet above still with patches of snow amongst the rocky slopes is an experience I will never forget. In fact all of the areas that we saw this afternoon were inspiring. I wish I could stay longer.

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving for Sunset Park (N45 35.2 W123 00.7) the home airport of Van's Aircraft. This coming weekend is the Van's home coming, a fly-in to the home of RV aircraft. Held each year at this time the home coming attracts a number of RVs from all over. I guess that it can now be called an international event. I am looking forward to a good weekend.

Jackson Hole to Sunset Park
Monday 2nd September

Departed Jackson Hole (N433 36.4 W110 44.3) for Redmond (N44 15.2 W121 11.9) then Independence (N44 52.0 W123 11.9) and finally Sunset Park (N45 35.2 W123 00.7). The whole trip taking 5:23.

After having such an enjoyable time in Jackson Hole it was time to be on our way to Sunset Park and the home of the RV's. Dean and I took off and climbed to about 14000 feet over the valley. On the way up we looked at the scar left on the side of a hill not 300 feet short of the top where an American Air Force transport aircraft had flown into the ground only a few weeks previously. Just a long black mark is left, a grim reminder of what can happen if a pilot makes a mistake.

Flying along in front of the Grand Teton and the other mountains in the Teton chain was almost humbling. Just like the previous day, an experience that I will never forget.

Once I had taken a number of photos we set course for Redmond where Dean had a short job to do. Redmond is also the home of Lancair, another popular home built aircraft so an interesting stop.

Of the four hours flying to Redmond a good percentage of the flight was over very rugged and impressive terrain. The sort of ground that when you fly over it, you prey that the engine stays noisy, which as usual mine did.

From Redmond it was only a relatively short hop to Sunset Park but we had been flying for only a short time when over the radio we hear "any RVs out there?" It was Jerry Van Grunsven with his wife Judy in their RV-4 accompanied by Jim and Wilma Winings in their RV-4. They were on their way to Independence for lunch, so with a slight change of heading Dean and I were able to have lunch with some with very good company. After lunch it was only a short twenty minute flight into Sunset Park.

Things were busy on my arrival as everyone was getting organized for the home coming fly-in this weekend, so after a short round of greetings and catching up with old friends we all joined in with the work. Tomorrow should be the beginning of a good weekend so after a good nights sleep I will be ready to talk aeroplanes for the next few days.

Sunset Park
Thursday 5th September

Departed Sunset Park (N45 35.5 W123 00.6) arriving at Everett (N47 54.4 W122 16.9) 1:07 later.

While in Ft. Collins I met a man who told me that Sir Charles Kingsford-Smiths's son lives just out of Seattle. After some home work we came up with Charles Kingsford-Smith Jr.'s phone number. Talking with Charles was an unexpected pleasure and I felt privileged when he said he would like to meet me and to see NOJ.

Arriving at Pain field, Everett, I had enough time to tie NOJ down before meeting Charles, a very friendly and interesting man. I was delighted to hear his recollections and to show him over NOJ. We talked non stop for a few hours before having to depart but not before getting some photos with Charles holding Kingsford my mascot.

After meeting with Charles I was able to catch up with a friend whom I had lost contact with a number of years previously. Catching up with old friends is always good but of course the time went passed all to quickly before it was time to go.

As I flew back to Sunset Park I couldn't help but wonder at life's coincidences. To be able to meet and talk with Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith's son and also re-new an old friendship on the same day was just one more exciting experience to add to the many others on this trip.

Sunset Park Cont'd
Van's Homecoming
Thursday 5th September

Van's homecoming is an event that I have watched from a distance for a number of years. Last year I was going in the opposite direction to this year which meant that I was well past Sunset Park when the homecoming was held so this year I was determined to be here.

VH-NOJ is one of approximately 1500 RVs flying in the world today (aprox 30 flying and more than 200 commenced in Australia). With a new RV taking to the air for it's first flight every 2.5 days this number is increasing fast. The homecoming is for people with either flying RVs or those actually building and just as the name suggests it really is a homecoming for the RVers. This year saw 103 RVs fly in for a good weekend of camaraderie and RV talk.

First thing Saturday morning saw a group of RVs flying off to the Flying M (N45 21.7 W123 21.3), a dude ranch where we all had breakfast and told RV stories. After that it was back to Sunset Park for the rest of the day to look at the RVs, have a guided tour through the Van's factory, look at the Van's workshop, or just sit around and talk. Saturday evening saw the legendary pot luck dinner with enough food to keep everyone more than satisfied and of course more RV hangar talk.

Sunday started early with about 20 RVs flying north to Packwood (N46 36.2 W121 40.6) for breakfast. Flying past Mt. St. Helens and looking at the moon scape remnants of the sixteen year old last eruption gave a good insight into the incredible power of nature. Packwood itself is a beautiful town on the forested valley floor not far from Mt. Rainier. It is one of those towns that you could spend all day in just wandering around enjoying the people and the atmosphere.

From Packwood seven RVs flew in formation to Scappoose (N45 46.3 W122 51.7) to have a look through Harmon and Marcie Lange's factory that makes the landing gear legs for the RVs as well as for many other home built aircraft. A very interesting establishment run on the same principle as Van's Aircraft, keep it simple and inexpensive.

After looking through the Lange's factory it was time for lunch. Someone had a vote and decided that I should lead the formation of five now over to Pacific City (N45 11.9 W123 57.7). Fat Freddies is the place to eat, so I am told, in Pacific City. When we arrived we made up the numbers to about 20 RVs who had flown in for some good eating and a walk along the beach. Interestingly this airport is only six feet above sea level, quiet a difference from Leadville (9927ft) where I was only a week or so back.

Pacific City is a small coastal town with the airport running right up into the town itself. Fat Freddies being literally right at the end of the runway. When I arrived in America I tried to get a burger with an egg on it only to discover that eggs on burgers are unheard of here. I can now report that if you want an egg on your burger Fat Freddies is the place to go, in fact eggs are standard there just as they are at home.

Leaving Pacific City it was a quick look at the coast for a bit before returning to Sunset Park and more RV talk.

Sunday evening was set aside for the homecoming banquet where about 100 people gathered for a sit down meal and to hear of the happenings at Van's. While at Oshkosh I was persuaded to talk at this banquet and tell a little of my travels. Good reports were received and a good night was had by all.

Monday being a holiday meant that Bill Benedict and I were able to fly out and look at an RV-6A project then follow the Columbia River east to The Dalles (N45 37.1 W121 10.0) before returning to Sunset Park past Mt. Hood to end a good day of flying.

In the evening I had time to spend on the Mentor Plus flight planning program, it is an amazing program. I can now do in seconds what had taken me a lot longer than that before. I am sure this program will come in extremely handy for the rest of this trip and into the future.

Sunset Park Cont'd
NOJ goes to Canada.
Tuesday 10th September

Departed Sunset Park (N45 35.5 W123 00.6) for Twin Oaks (N45 25.7 W122 56.5) then on to Bellingham (N48 47.5 W122 32.2), Penticton (N49 27.8 W119 36.1), and Salmon Arm (N50 40.9 W119 13.9). Total flight time, 3:15.

Last weekend at the Van's homecoming I met a gentleman with whom I had communicated with a number of times, Eustace Bowhay. Eustace built an RV-6 and then went on to put it on floats. Not content with just the floats he and his friend Jim Rowe have spent a lot of time converting the floats into amphibian floats. Eustace and Jim not only succeeded with this project but have ended up with an outstanding finished product.

Meeting Eustace was something that I had looked forward to for a long time. Not only has he built an RV-6 but he has forgotten more about aviation than I will ever know, so it was not difficult persuading me into making a quick trip to his home in Salmon Arm Canada.

Leaving the U.S.A. I first refueled at Twin Oaks then checked in with Customs at Bellingham and again on the Canadian side of the border at Pentiction. This flight was spent mostly on top of cloud so I was unable to enjoy the scenery. Flying from Pentiction to Salmon Arm was different in that I followed the valleys beneath the cloud enjoying the beautiful countryside as I went.

Arriving at Salmon Arm I was met by a number of aviation enthusiasts and given a very warm Canadian welcome. Less than one hour after arriving the clouds moved in making me glad to be on the ground rather than trying to get there.

For my short stay in Canada I am being spoilt by Eustace and his lovely wife, Nora. Getting up in the morning to be greeted by spectacular views over a lake and into wooded mountains is not at all difficult to take.

Today NOJ was moved into a large hangar where the media and a number of interested people were able to look her over and hear of our travels. Once more I meet many interesting people and gained more new friends.

Tomorrow before returning to Sunset Park we are planning to do some RV-6 flying and to get a better look at the local mountains. It will be sad having to leave after such a short time here but it is time to be heading south.

San Carlos to Santa Paula
Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th September

Sept 11th. Departed San Carlos (N37 30.6 W122 14.4) for Santa Paula (N34 20.8 W119 03.7) then Flabob (N33 59.3 W117 24.6). Flight time 4:41.

Sept 12th. Departed Flabob for Santa Paula. Flight time 0:50.

Departed San Carlos after a good time with the EAA Chapter 20 people, a great bunch and as usual the time passed all to quickly. Dropped in to see Klaus Savier of LongEze and Lightspeed Engineering fame at Santa Paula on the way to EAA Chapter 1 at Flabob.

Santa Paula is one of the most intriguing airports that I have ever been to. It is nestled on the valley floor. (240' above sea level) between South Mountain (3500' above sea level) and Tops Tops mountain (6000' above sea level). These mountains are about 5km apart so to fly in you feel very much aware of the two rugged valley walls either side of the airport. The airport itself seems to be surrounded by aviation history and still has many very old aircraft as well as a number of new ones. This is only a small airport, one 777m runway, but more hangars than on any airport in Australia.

I would have loved to spend more time but I needed to get to Flabob, another interesting airport not far away in the L.A. basin. Jan Johnson is the President of EAA Chapter One based at Flabob so I was able to catch up with her and a number of others in that part of the world. While there I met a number of well known names in aviation restoration and replica manufacture. I felt privileged to meet and to spend a little time with such people.

I have been watching the weather between California and Hawaii fairly closely and it looks as if next Sunday evening may be the best time to leave. This may change of course but until the weather is right I will spend time with Klaus Savier at Santa Paula. Leaving Flabob it was only a 50 minute flight back to Santa Paula.

Until I leave I will be able to check over NOJ in the company of experienced aviators and friends as well as enjoy Santa Paula airport.

Santa Paula to Hilo
Monday 16th September

Departed Santa Paula (N34 20.8 W119 03.7) landing at Monterey (N36 35.1 W121 50.5) 1:36 later. A few hours later departed Monterey for Hilo (N19 34.1 W155 02.9) landing there 15:03 later.

Spending time with Klaus Savier (Lightspeed Engineering) and Tracy Saylor (very fast RV-6) at Santa Paula was enjoyable. Having two fellows like these to look over NOJ before heading over the worlds longest over water crossing gave me more confidence in NOJ as well.

As I have said so many times before, leaving is never easy, and leaving Santa Paula was no different. But it was time to be heading home and also to face the pond between Monterey and Hilo.

Flying to Monterey I couldn't help but look at the scenery and feel a little sad at having to leave. America is a beautiful country with many great people, leaving could not help but be a little sad. Arriving at Monterey I was very well looked after by the team from Dal Nonto Aviation I also had to pay for the most expensive fuel I had yet purchased in America (US$ 2.33 gal) Just before departure a couple of RV-4s arrived to escort me on my way, what a great gesture from a couple of great RVers.

Departing into the night it was time to concentrate on the job at hand. The night soon turned ink black with only the stars above me to look at outside of the dimly lit cockpit. It was not long until the flight turned into a marathon, monitor the instruments and navigation while watching the Garmin navigation unit slowly unwinding. Giving position reports every hour and a chat with a number of jets flying above were the highlights of this flight.

Descending into Hilo I entered cloud at about 9000' and did not see the ground until I was about 500' and only two minutes before landing in the rain. It was good to be on the ground and able to stand up and stretch.I was met by Skip Peas the local RV-4 owner who I stayed with last year. Catching up on the last years doings was achieved over breakfast before I had to get to bed and sleep.

Tomorrow I will check over NOJ, put in the next few days flight plans and try to organize myself for the run home.

Tuesday 17th September

VH-NOJ will be departing Hilo (N19 34.1 W155 O2.9) tomorrow morning (17 Sept. 1800utc) for Christmas Island (N03. 59.5 W157 21.9).

The following day (18 Sept. 1800utc) it will be off to Pago Pago (S14 19.9 W170 42.6).

On the 19th Sept. (UTC) all being well, we will depart Pago Pago for Norfolk Island (S29 02.6 E167 56.1), hopefully arriving at Norfolk Island about 4pm local time.

Today was spent by checking NOJ, changing the oil, and getting the flight plans in order for the next few days.

This, afternoon we did a short flight over some of the scenic spots of the big Island, Hawaii. The weather was as good as you could get, so a good view was enjoyed as we flew over the still active volcano Puu Oo, and over the hot lava flowing into the sea south of Hilo.

Tomorrow morning it will be off to Christmas Island and very much on the way home. The next few days will be busy flying days until I get to Norfolk Island where I will have a day or so off before flying into Sydney.

Hilo to Christmas Island
Wednesday 18th September

Departed Hilo (N19 34.1 W155 02.9) for Christmas Island (N01 59.5 W157 21.5) arriving 8:15 later.

It was good to catch up with Skip in Hawaii, and talk of our doings over the past year. Skip flies the only RV-4 on the Island of Hawaii and is also an avid glider pilot. Unfortunately he was doing some maintenance on his RV-4 while I was there, so we were unable to do any flying. We did a lot of talking instead.

After sorting out customs with the same lady who wanted to lock me up last year, she did not remember me this year, I refueled NOJ (US$ 1.35 gal) and took off just short of a rain storm. It was not long before I was in cloud all though only for fifteen minutes. The rest of the flight was uneventful, even the inter-tropical convergence zone was docile. I was able to keep out of cloud and hardly even saw a thunderstorm.

Christmas Island has not changed since I was last here. I still had to pay A$36.50 landing fee even though the air strip looks like it has not been touched since the Second World War. The people are friendly so it could have been much worse.

Refueling from a very rusty drum at A$1.55 per liter makes you take a very close look at the fuel and especially the filters. A$1.55 per liter is not too bad when compared to some other places but I still miss the US$1.65 per gal of only a week or so back. Being able to use my international BP card in many places has sure made refueling much easier but this is one place where I would have loved to see a BP pump rather than the rusty drum and questionable hand pump.

I am now in the only hotel on Christmas Island and the only guest. It seems that there are some political problems with the regular flights so there are no guests for a few weeks. Christmas Island caters for the fishing tourist and is said to be one of the better places.

I asked one of the locals how high the Island was and was told that ten feet would be on the high side. As you fly in all that can be seen is coconut trees covering the whole Island with signs of the coconut trade in evidence both from the air and on the ground. I understand that it is only the coconuts and tourists that keep the economy moving so my guess is that things are tight now.

Another interesting thing about Christmas Island is that they consider themselves to be on the other side of the date line and even though they are in the same time zone as Hawaii they are a day ahead. In other words I left Hawaii on the 17th but arrived here on the 18th. Tomorrow when I leave it will be the 19th here but the 18th in Pago Pago. Then just to confuse me even more I will leave Pago Pago on the 19th only to arrive at Norfolk Island on the 20th??? It all gets a bit confusing.

Christmas Island to Pago Pago
Thursday 19th September

Departed Christmas Island (N01 59.5 W157 21.5) 7am local time, arrived Pago Pago (S14 19.9 W170 42.6) 9:15 later.

The flight from Christmas Island was uneventful except for one hours IFR and an instrument approach into Pago Pago.

As soon as I arrived I was taken off to customs where they charged me US$50 arrival/departure tax. That puts Pago Pago right up there with Zimbabwe as the only countries to charge air crew arrival/departure taxes. US$50 that really hurt, my wallet is already very thin and does not need those sort of surprises. Next came the US$20 landing fee. Pago Pago also knows how to extract it's pound of flesh.

After the pain in my pocket the rest of the paper work was a pleasure. I managed to arrive and depart all in the one sitting so that will save me a lot of time in the morning.

While waiting to be refueled I met a number of people who were very interested in NOJ and what we are doing. Most were amazed that such a small aircraft was able to do what we have done. One US Air Force man was sure that NOJ must have been brought in by a larger aircraft, it turned out that his father has built and flies an RV-4.

Well tomorrow it is off to Norfolk Island, another long flight so it will be early to bed again tonight ready for a 6am departure in the morning. I will be crossing the date line again tomorrow. Today I left on Thursday and arrived on Wednesday. Tomorrow I will leave on Thursday and arrive on Friday. Is it any wonder that I am having difficulty knowing what day it is???

Pago Pago to Norfolk Island
Friday 20th September

Departed Pago Pago (S14 19.9 W170 42.6) at 6am local time arriving at Norfolk Island (S29 02.6 E167 56.1) 11:00 later.

My day started early today. At 4am I was up and getting ready to leave. It had rained all night and was still raining as the taxi took me to the airport but I managed to get NOJ ready between showers. Departure clearance was given and we were airborne by 6:12am local time.

Head winds for all but the last 300km slowed me down with my ground speed at times being lower than 120 kts (220 kmph). Of the eleven hours flying between Pago Pago and Norfolk Island I only saw land twice, both small atolls with only one showing any signs of life.

Finally after a long days flying at about 40km East of Norfolk I was met by my good friend Alex Martinez flying his Navajo. Being met in the air is exciting it makes you feel privileged and very welcome.

Norfolk Island is an intriguing place. Roughly 10 x 6 km in size it is not a very big target to aim for, but GARMIN was once again spot on. The Island was originally settled as a penal colony with a history of abusive prisoners and even more abusive authorities. Not a good legacy for such a paradise. Today Norfolk Island is one of the worlds best kept secrets, an ideal place to stop and enjoy life in one of the nicest settings you could wish for.

Arriving on the ground I was met by the Quarantine officer with his obligatory can of insect spray, a famous Australian greeting to arriving aircraft. Alex and Val Martinez were there to greet me with a number of other friends made while here earlier this year, there was even a display reminiscent of Norfolk Islands not so pleasant past.

Once through Customs it was off to the post office to have the cover letters that I am carrying stamped before closing time. From then we seem to have talked non stop. I caught up with Phil Stacy and Lydia from the Sport Aircraft Association and then Melbourne 3LO for a short radio interview. After that it was time to leave for dinner and a very good evening with the Howe's.

For the next few days I will be resting and waiting for a rather nasty weather front to pass before continuing on to Sydney. I can think of many worse places to stay while waiting for better weather than Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Island
Monday 23rd September

We should be leaving Norfolk Island tomorrow morning (Tuesday 24th) with a brief stop in Lord Howe Island for Customs before going on to Sydney (Bankstown). Arrival time Bankstown should be about 2-4pm.

The weather here is not very good flying weather at the minute, it is raining and gusting up to 45 kts but I am told that it should be passed by tomorrow so Sydney here I come.

Wednesday morning I will leave for Melbourne and Thursday it will be back home to Adelaide.

Norfolk Island to Sydney
Tuesday 24th September

Departed Norfolk Island (S E) for Lord Howe Island (S E) then on to Sydney's Bankstown (S E). Flight time 7:01.

Yesterday was windy and very wet so I was pleased to wake up today to clearing skies. Having spent a few relaxing days with Alex, Val, and their girls Olivia and Brinana I was again having to leave friends.

The Norfolk Island Government had sent their representative to see me off and to recognize my flight. Norfolk Island has quite an interesting aviation history with the flight of Sir Francis Chichester in his Gipsy Moth from New Zealand to Lord Howe Island and eventually Japan in 1931. Norfolk Island was pleased to recognize this history making flight too.

Departing Norfolk Island it was back to flying over water again with Lord Howe Island coming up about three hours later. Lord Howe Island is a small island seven miles long and less than one mile wide, and equal to any tropical paradise in the world.

Lord Howe Island being my first point of entry into Australia is where I did customs and had a short break before continuing on to Sydney (Bankstown).

Leaving Lord Howe it was back to fighting head winds and by the time I had the Australian Coast in sight my ground speed was down to 114 Kts.

At about 10 miles from the coast I was met my Jake & Barbara Jansen in their immaculate Glassair. The last time we had flown together was from Australia to Norfolk Island & back so to be met by them now was not only a great welcome home but brought back many other pleasant memories.

Arriving at Bankstown I was first greeted by 14 gusting to 18 Knot cross wind just to keep me honest in front of the cameras. Fortunately I was not disgraced and all three of my landings were acceptable.

My welcome home to Australia was spiced by many good friends and many colored streamers. Talking with the media & posing for the cameras took up quite awhile before I was able to greet my many friends. From then on it was non-stop talking and catching up with other friends for the next 8 hours.

Sydney to Melbourne
Thursday 26th September

Departed Bankstown (S33 55.5 E150 59.5) arriving at Point Cook (Melbourne) (S37 56.0 E144 45.2) 3:25 later.

Melbourne was so close, the official end of this second world circumnavigation, so it was off to Melbourne early.

Driving through the Sydney traffic I realized that since leaving three months ago this was the first traffic jam I had been in during that time. Flying beats driving any day.

Requesting to go GPS direct from Bankstown to Point Cook I was told that I would have to talk with the traffic controller in Sydney first. Talking with Gordon at the control office I was informed that I could expect to be vectored about and that I may not even be able to enter controlled air space at all due to the high traffic situation of Sydney.

After flying around San Francisco and the Los Angles basin only a week or so ago I could not help but wonder where all this traffic was. I was now back in Australia and I was more than appreciative of any help given by the controllers on this leg to Melbourne.

Climbing to 12500 feet I had a magnificent view of Canberra, the Snowy Mountains, and the country side in general. This time of the year Australia always looks her best so I sat back and enjoyed the ride despite the head winds.

Arriving over Melbourne it was hard to believe that I had been all around the world and even harder that I was making aviation history. Melbourne looked great, green and attractive so I was happy to circle the city as the media choppers filmed my arrival. I even did one extra lap so that I could get some pictures as well.

Flying into Point Cook I could not help but think of all the history of this airport. Virtually the birth place of Australia's Air Force, Point Cook has seen Australia grow from rag and tube through to the jet age. Now the home of the National Air and Space Museum Australia there was no better place to end Australia's latest entry into aviation history.

On the ground I was surrounded by the media and flashing cameras as well as many friends and supporters. My older brother, Cris, with his arm in a sling compliments of a push bike accident was there to meet me. I come from a very special family and it was exciting to see Cris again but I couldn't help pointing out that he really needed to be more careful of those push bikes. They are pretty dangerous things sometimes, flying would have to be safer.

Catching up with the crew from the Sport Aircraft Association and Michael Orr from Class Rooms of the Future as well as those from NASMA was great, they have all been a big support making this whole venture easier than it would have been otherwise.

From Point Cook it was into the city to be interviewed on 3LO radio. The mobile phone rang hot with other radio interviews and newspaper interviews I was even having more pictures taken in front of the Toshiba laptop and the Kodak digital camera at 8pm.

Tomorrow it will be back home to Adelaide and the end of this latest adventure. Getting home will be the end of this trip and the beginning of life after long distance flying, another episode in my exciting life.

Melbourne to Adelaide
Friday 27th September

Departed Point Cook (S34 47.6 E138 38.0) for Horsham (S36 40.3 E142 10.3) then onto Murray Bridge (S35 03.9 E139 12.7) and finally back to Parafield (Adelaide)(S34 47.6 E138 38.0). Total flight time 3:09.

Departing Point Cook for the last leg of my flight I found it hard to believe that this adventure was almost over. The country side was lush and green and the weather was good for the first half hour. Flying at about 600 to 700 feet above the ground to keep out of the strong head winds, I was enjoying the view. Staying out of the clouds while passing through a weather front was a bit of a challenge but not too difficult.

I had to stop in Horsham to collect my car and house keys. It was good to say a quick hello to Mom and Dad but 13 minutes on the ground was all it took before heading for Murray Bridge.

Arriving at Murray Bridge I met up with a number of flying friends who had come to escort me home. Colleagues from the Australian Aviation College were there, one in his RV-6 and the other in a Cap10. These two flew in close formation while a Glassair 3 and two Lancairs followed behind.

Arriving over the outskirts of Adelaide we were joined by a number of media helicopters who buzzed around us as we circled the city before heading North to Parafield.

At Parafield I was greeted by the music of the Salisbury East High School Band and the Kings Baptist Grammar School Band. Both bands did a magnificent job, I felt very privileged to be welcomed home in such a grand manner.

Once the engine had stopped I was surrounded by the media until the huge crowd that had come to welcome me home called for their turn. I could not count the number of friends and supporters. There were patients that I had cared for in the past, even a now much healthier and larger ex-premature baby that I had looked after was there with his parents. Young and old pilots were there as were some of my students from the Australian Aviation College not to mention the many people who just wanted to greet me and welcome me home.

I have no idea how many hands I shook or how many congratulations I was given, it was all a bit overwhelming. I would have loved to talk with everyone but that was just not possible.

Judith King a very good friend and an outstanding organizer had stood on many toes, pushed and shoved to organize my reception home. It took eight men to come up with one power cord and then it had no power. Bureaucracy reigns supreme even in Australia. Judith just kept on until all was in order and a number of people now have much more respect for this outstanding lady.

There were so many people that worked hard to make this all possible that It would be impossible to name them all, Phil Stacy, Don Fraser, Bill Antell, Gill Mibus, Sue Ball, Ted and Judith King, Charles and Betty Schadel, Colleen Wood, Delmae Bower, Ray Leskie, Bill Whitworth, Sam and Carol Richards, Peter and Heather Kraus, Dean and Ruth Hall, Eustace Bowhay, --- the list goes on and on. How do you say thank you to so many for so much?

Arriving home saw the end of a flight that had taken many years of planning and was just one more first for aviation. To continue in the footsteps of the great pioneer aviators was a privilege and a pleasure. Sport Aviation and custom built aircraft have been leading world aviation for a long time. Once again we have proven to the world that custom built aircraft are real aircraft and a force to be reckoned with.

Just some facts on this trip:

Total flying time

Total night flight

Total IFR time

Total distance traveled
33246nm (61571km)

If you believe in luck I have been extraordinarily lucky. If you believe in more than luck, I have been exceedingly well cared for.

Till next time, keep smiling and may you be as well cared for as I have been;

Jon J

Dare to dream and never give up.

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