decided to come into Champino this evening. Then possibly go on to Brendisi. But there are thunderstorms all the way down to Brendisi so we decided to stay here another night and this is where we are now.
We arrived to find the Tri-Pacer, but we haven't seen any of the crew. The 210 Cessna is here, unfortunately though, there seems to have been a bit of a crew fall out there. Len Day is from Geelong and his co-pilot works for Qantas. They are not going on together any further. The Beagle Pup arrived just after dark tonight, rather a hairy approach. He was rather worried too, I think. We have been here, what? two and a half or three hours before dark. So this is how much time we made up on the Beagle, but we have lost it all now.
There is Richard and Sue, Sue is married, but not to Richard. But it is Sue's plane and Richard is her instructor. Right now they don't seem very happy with each other. The Cherokee 6 arrived an hour after it was due, an hour late, with no radio contact. That is the Cherokee 6 from Darwin and the chaps from there have just shot off into a motel. We have our bags with us and we anticipate spending the evening in a lounge somewhere. Last night we were lucky down at Bordeaux. They put us into accommodation, I think they would probably be crew quarters. There were six beds anyhow, blankets but no sheets but we had a good night’s sleep. We all feel like having a shower at the moment, but of course here in Italy there is only cold water.
It is raining, there is some cloud cover. Looks fairly high though, I would say about 3,000 feet. We have been down and had a good chat to the Met officer and it looks like being fairly dicky sort of day tomorrow. Our aim, we have had all sorts of aims, was to keep going to make Rome the first night. It is now the second night and we are still in Rome. But we do hope tomorrow to make Brendisi, then reach Athens, getting on towards last light. From Athens we possibly hope to go down through Nicosia tomorrow evening. However we will tell you more about that as time goes on.
The Mediterranean - Brendisi:
Well back to the familiar little buzzing of the Victa motor. This is rather strange because I think this will be kept only as a record for ourselves. This particular
recording is coming to you from the Gulf of Corinth. In other words we are about 150 miles from Athens, heading down a narrow stretch of water on the Corinth Canal, from there, straight through into Athens.
This morning we left Champino, 0630, I think it was, actual take off time was 0622. We didn't have a pleasant flight through to Brendisi. We first tried under the cover but eventually we went over. This I might add, is where we had our first experience with icing. It is something I will never forget. We were forced to go through a relatively small cloud, through the edge of the cloud.
As we brushed into the cloud there was a noise like a rifle. The windscreen, the whole aircraft, sides of the Perspex and all, were completely covered in ice. In that split second it was just like a shattering windscreen. Needless to say we did a 180 degree turn losing a lot of height and fortunately the ice peeled itself off as we lost about 2000 feet.
We eventually flew over the mountains. Having messed around so much, we were committed to go onto Brindisi rather than go down to Catania, which was our alternate. We were about 40 mile from Brindisi whom we contacted to ask for terminal weather. They told us there was 8/8's at 800. So you can imagine how that made us feel because we didn't really have enough fuel to go to our alternate at this stage. However we were fortunate when we came down through a hole to find there was about 6/8's at about 2000 feet, so these blooming Italians have completely ballsed up.
To make matters worse, when we approached Brendisi, it was about 10.30 Greenwich Mean Time. The controller told us that the surface wind was 340. Yes 340, thirty-five to forty-five knots. Their runway 35 was closed. So we did a landing which turned out to be a good one. We were both rather pleased with it. It was with a 35 to 45 knot crosswind and we went straight in.
There was a Mooney, an English Mooney air race number 28 that came in behind us. Boy was it a hairy landing. He had three tries to get in and we reckoned he had dug his wing tip in, it was so darn close.
While we were being refuelled I put my time in on the flight plan which I had prepared last night. Let's see, I had made an ETD of 1100 hours. At 1145 I was ready to hand it in and they said, "No you cannot hand it in here, you must go around the other side of the aerodrome."
Eventually we got away, just checking the departure time, I know this is quite noisy. But it is a recording, mainly for my own use. We got away at 11.51.
Bathhurst Island in sight:
Hi once again. Well there is a magnificent sunset at the moment. We have just passed over Bathhurst Island. We are a little behind ETA, some twenty minutes behind. We are flying over six or seven eighths of cumulus at 4,000 feet clear, straight into Darwin to report we are three or four miles out. We were a little apprehensive for a moment with the sun going down and still no sign of Bathurst Island. But it is difficult to get a ground speed check on this and we knew we were headed towards Darwin, we just didn't know how far out we were.
Darwin is within cooee now and so is the end of our objective of Adelaide. Well not, we have still got to get to Sydney after that. But Darwin asked what our intentions were when we got to Darwin. I said to have a good steak, he said say again please. I thought well I had better not say it again and I said we will be remaining on the ground for three or four hours. That is our plan at the moment.
I am in touch with Darwin Tower. He is talking in my ear and making it difficult for me to speak. But we will be on the ground in the next thirty minutes. It is now, 1000 GMT, which makes it 7.30 at night Darwin time, eight o'clock Eastern Standard time.
As I say it is a magnificent sunset, unfortunately I don't think we can get it with the cameras. We have taken a couple of sunsets on the way home, although we have not photographed much else. So I will probably, yes I think we will phone everybody tonight and make three or four phone calls. Let you know how we are getting on.
We will get in touch from Adelaide, after that for New Years Eve I would say. Bye.
Closing on Parafield — Two sleepy pilots:
After trying for some twenty minutes my call was eventually acknowledged by Singapore. It eventuated that they relayed to Darwin and Darwin had relayed by landline to Adelaide.
The weather was deteriorating and forced me to descend to remain clear of cloud, however because there was some visual reference with lights from towns and vehicles (unlike last night) it made my job a lot easier. It would of course have been a lot easier if the two of us were conscious.
The flight was smooth however my mind was becoming cloudy. I made a position report abeam Port Pirie and I was aware that I was flying and holding heading. Increasingly though, the heading became a mechanical necessity rather than a means to reach Parafield. I was becoming so fatigued that I was disorientated (direction wise only) I was still able to hold straight and level but unable to use the ADF and adjust heading. Fortunately my voice on the radio must have been a giveaway to the controller who asked if I would like radar assistance.
Still nothing would awaken Keith (and he wondered the next day why his left shoulder was so tender.) The radar controller was great and I mechanically followed his heading adjustments for nearly one hour. He not only guided me towards our destination but around the rain squalls. I remember lights below and I knew that I was heading for a nice long sleep but the fatigue was something that I had never experienced before or since.
After almost an hour of this "mind fog" I can vividly recall a voice in my headphones telling me to look out the starboard side of the aircraft. I did so and there was the strip below. Whilst I didn't actually miraculously regain full consciousness I can vaguely recall positioning to land but recall nothing of the landing. I think the tower controller gave me some directions and certainly he guided me to our parking bay.
While we were taxying over the grass Keith awakened and as we pulled up as directed right in front of the control tower and shut down. I became aware of a group of some hundreds of people sheltering from the squall that was passing through. It took some time for me (us) to realise that many of our families and friends were among those waiting to welcome us. They included other competitors and race