The return to Australia is first page news announcing that John Wynn and Keith Buttrey had landed Little Nugget in Darwin. The paper reports on the arrival of the pilots in Adelaide and the welcome that awaited them.
This account includes only a small portion of the coverage given to the exploits of the pair. The additional coverage by television station BCV8 and radio stations 3B0 and 3CV, was no less than that given by the press. In addition, press, television and radio throughout Australia and many countries of the world turned their attention to the pair.
Thirty years later, the memories of their journey have not been extinguished. A culmination of the thirtieth anniversary of the departure from Bendigo and suggestions of yet another London to Sydney Air race, provided the motivation for John Wynn to make some permanent visual records of that exciting time.
Putting all of that aside, the transcription of tape recordings made by John and Keith should be preserved in some way. For any person intending to fly between Australia and England, it is almost a textbook. Should another London Sydney Air Race eventuate, it is an invaluable account of the race of 1969/1970.
A unique style is used in describing the scenery, events and impressions gained by the pair. In the main, John Wynn recounts the story to a third party in Australia. A reader will become absorbed, gaining the impression that John and Keith are speaking to them directly from the pages.
While some editorial changes have been made to the text of this section, it has been to remove unnecessary words or repeated words. Care has been taken not to interfere with the flow of conversation and only light corrections and punctuation changes have been made.
This ends the preface to Reflections on the London to Sydney Air Race 1969/1970.
Excerpts from flight logs:
Included in the following pages are articles taken directly from the Bendigo Advertiser Newspaper. These are followed by extracts taken at random from the transcription of the tapes made during the journey. The intention of this approach is to give a casual reader a tantalising indication of what is included in the recordings made by John Wynn and Keith Buttrey.
The extracts from the book may convey to a reader some of the difficulties encountered in flying a small aircraft through so many countries and over such a vast distance. It will give an incomplete picture of the overall story but may stimulate the reader to seek more information. The first landing outside Australia was in East Timor. John and Keith describe the simple friendliness of the inhabitants of that now troubled Indonesian occupied territory. Their primitive nature could well account for them being overwhelmed by the Indonesia's might. In mid-September 1999, on the return of Commander Anthony K. Curtis of the Australian Federal Police from East Timor following the arrival of the United Nations peacekeepers, The Canberra Times newspaper published the story on page 13.
Commencing on page 29, the Race Card completed by the crew of VH MUJ is reproduced. It carries the stamps from many airports in countries at which a stop was necessary. Photographs of the aircraft, on the ground at Gatwick Airport are followed by a recent account of the journey published by the Bendigo Advertiser Newspaper on the thirtieth anniversary of the departure from Bendigo are included. The Epilogue, taken directly from the book, concludes this short review.
Timor and Dili in 1969:
John Wynn discusses arrival in Timor on September 12, 1969: It was about this stage (as we prepared to leave Darwin for Timor) that we discovered another example of DCA's interest in our flight. The day we were supposed to leave we had a phone call from the briefing officer in Darwin. He asked us to go over and report to him. The Department of Civil Aviation in Melbourne were telephoning to wish us a successful flight.
It was just before we set out to cross the Timor Sea. I must admit that we were apprehensive about spending four hours over water in a single engine aeroplane with no references to work on. We had told practically everybody, most importantly our parents that we were crossing on the 13th, which was a Saturday. We had found out just before we left that a Fokker Friendship left Darwin regularly on Fridays, which was the 12th. We hadn't bothered to tell anybody this.
We went up to speak to the captain of the TAA Fokker Friendship. It was once again DCA's suggestion that we do this and say to him, "Look, we are leaving an hour before you, can you keep an eye out for us on the way over." He said, "Yes, I had a note in my pigeonhole in Adelaide about you blokes. I also saw a sample of your low flying." I said, "What do you mean a sample of our low flying?" He said, "Well, when you left Bendigo you did a low pass over the field and quite a nice turn. It was on television in Adelaide." Of course Keith and I looked at each other and suggested it is just as well that we are leaving Australia because DCA will probably be looking for us.
Heading off across the Timor Sea:
We found that there was so much work involved in flying across the water we didn't even give a second thought to the problems that could crop up. We were in constant contact with Darwin and the Fokker Friendship although we didn't see each other. The Captain didn't even see us on radar, that's how small we are. We arrived at Timor, pretty well on track within three or four minutes of our ETA where we were given a warm welcome by the passengers from the Fokker Friendship. I think all the passengers had been looking out the portholes for this little aircraft flying along. The customs officers were hospitable and we managed to get some stamps to add to the Lions Club folder but there was no post office. I think we ended up with the Chief of Police, The Airport Manager, Chief Customs Officer and a few other TAA airline officials, who managed to cancel the stamps.
We headed off the forty miles down to Dili, which is the main city on the Island of Portuguese Timor. We were told that there are some 60,000 national service men from Portugal who each spend two years there. Which is rather incredible, 60,000 service men just 400 miles north of Australia. We found it to be a charming little spot. Keith sampled his first bit of Chili plus about four gallons of native water. We watched a cock fight, with roosters. Generally speaking the chaps at the airport really looked after us I seem to recall heading around the island on a motorbike at one stage. When leaving Dili we were asked by the Air Traffic controller to do a low pass over the field and obligingly we did it for them before heading off to Kupang.
We spent two days in Timor. This was a mandatory stop for a customs clearance. Of course you have to pay landing fees which hurt because we have never paid landing fees before. From the Esquadious in Portuguese Timor we then ended up with Rupees down in Indonesia. When we landed at Kupang, the Indonesian Authorities didn't ask for Rupees they wanted US$5. We went through our customs formalities but didn't re-fuel. We had heard fuel was $l.00 a gallon. We'd heard that you had to buy a forty-four gallon drum regardless of how much you wanted to use.
Our next stop was on the Island of Sumba, which is along the Indonesian Archipelago to a little place called Waingapu. Our welcome there was exceptional really. We flew over the strip and on looking down there seemed to be a large number of people crowding over the one-way runway. We landed on the runway to be immediately besieged by I would estimate conservatively 200 or 300 natives.
They weren't brandishing spears or being threatening. There were a lot of uniforms. It is one thing that we could never work out. What were the uniforms representing? To recognise anyone wearing a uniform we took care to smile nicely and say, "Good Day."
The 200 to 300 natives at Waingapu could all speak English. Everyone could say yes, no, maybe and hello. You could ask the same question six times and you would get a different response each time. We were ushered into a little rotunda. It served as the terminal at Waingapu.
I think 150 of the natives crammed in to one end of the rotunda. They watched and commented on our every move. I know, at one stage I was looking down wondering if it was open or not. The other 150 people were clambering all over the outside of the building, fighting to get a glimpse of us. During the proceedings, after being there about ten minutes, Keith suddenly disappeared on the back of a motorbike. No I beg your pardon's, ifs or buts where he was going. He didn't know where he was going I must admit.
Nobody, could speak English, so I thought well fair enough, he has gone to get the customs clearance or something. After an hour I was sitting with these natives, trying to amuse them. I think I went through two or three large packs of cigarettes in that time. The motor