Incredible Barcelona, but would I make the ferry flight?

Last week Lachlan Smart was out of the country, but not for a premature departure for his trip, rather he made his way to France to make the most of an opportunity experience ferry flying first hand as he embarks on a trip from Toulouse to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on a bona fide international ferry flight.

Earlier last week Lachlan spoke about his time spent with Garry Mitchell who assisted with flight planning and the intricacies of ferry flying, which you can read here.

Over the course of the trip Lachlan will be joining Mitchell and a team of pilots in the capacity of a cadet, with his aim to attain a better understanding of the international environment, specifically pre-flight routines and customs requirements at various locations as well as time spent learning HF radio communications and differing international communications protocol.

Over the course of his time away, Lachie recorded his experiences though a number of blogs of his trip where possible, so stay tuned as we find out what he got up to over the next few days! 


READ HERE: Blog Entry One: April 5, 2016 – Lyon, France

READ HERE: Blog Entry Two: April 6, 2016 – Baguettes, monuments, baguettes & baguettes

READ HERE: Blog Entry: April 9, 2016 – Delays, planning & Juan impromptu excursion

Blog Entry: April 12, 2016 – Toulouse – Iraklion, Crete

Barcelona, what a time to be alive!

If I had to describe the location in one word it would be incrediblybeautifulwithamazinglyintricatearchitecture. Being a bit of a history nut myself I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this amazing city with well-known buildings and monuments from the era of the infamous Spanish fleet. Among great historical experiences were paellas, tapas, mojitos and Spanish beer, among all our explorations.

The banter between our group never ceases so we will generally always have a joke at the ready, and the car rides to and from Barcelona were no exception! The whole trip was constantly putting smiles on our faces and isn’t a time I’ll soon forget. Our driver, Christoph joined in too and really became a friend in our relatively short time together!

Our first day back in Toulouse was quite a relaxing day with a sleep-in in order after getting back to the hotel well after midnight and a quiet day ensued.

Upon my arrival back I found myself in a different hotel, in a new part of town and I rediscovered what a lovely place Toulouse is. The city has friendly people and is a beautiful city to get lost in, which I (of course) took the opportunity to do. However with my excellent navigating and translating skills I managed to find my way back to the hotel with no problems.

Having not had a really traditional experience of French cuisine yet, other than my excessive baguette binging, Garry and I decided to go out for dinner for some traditional French food. La Bibent was recommended to us by Christoph and was only a short walk from our hotel in Wilson Square so off we hopped, stomachs empty and with a hunger for some good food.

The restaurant didn’t meet our expectations… It blew them out of the water!

We had a very traditional meal for the Toulouse region called a Cassoulet, which comprised of traditional sausage, duck, white beans in a fashion similar to a casserole. The building was incredible and the service was great, overall a phenomenal night.

After a few days of sightseeing, the next morning was spent planning the ferry flight, from marking out the routes on our charts to confirming clearances and permits to trying to get all the necessary paperwork involved in the sale of an aeroplane together.

We ran into a plethora of roadblocks (or should it be air blocks?) along the way including the banks being shut in Dubai for an unknown reason on this particular day, therefore the funds could not be transferred on the correct date for the aircraft.

This had the potential to the delay the flight another day, and I began to wonder whether I would even make the ferry flight at all or if I would just have to fly home on a commercial flight from Toulouse?

Although things were starting to look a little grim, I refused to let it get me down because there is a positive in everything, you’ve just had to look hard enough. My positives out of this trip if I didn’t make the ferry at all would have been the fact that I had familiarised myself with the French culture for when I return here in three months time, although the next time around I will be coordinating a service of my own aircraft before my round the world flight continues.

I have also learnt a whole lot about ferry planning and flying from the crew; and I discovered that if I get bored while the aircraft maintenance is being done, Barcelona is the place to go!

Spoiler alert! They’re not the only positives I have gained out of this trip as we did manage to get the ferry flight underway!

I’ll have details of the first leg in my next blog!

Ferry Flight Blog: Delays, planning & Juan impromptu excursion!

Last week Lachlan Smart was out of the country, but not for a premature departure for his trip, rather he made his way to France to make the most of an opportunity experience ferry flying first hand as he embarks on a trip from Toulouse to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on a bona fide international ferry flight.

Earlier last week Lachlan spoke about his time spent with Garry Mitchell who assisted with flight planning and the intricacies of ferry flying, which you can read here.

Over the course of the trip Lachlan will be joining Mitchell and a team of pilots in the capacity of a cadet, with his aim to attain a better understanding of the international environment, specifically pre-flight routines and customs requirements at various locations as well as time spent learning HF radio communications and differing international communications protocol.

Over the course of his time away, Lachie recorded his experiences though a number of blogs of his trip where possible, so stay tuned as we find out what he got up to over the next few days! 


READ HERE: Blog Entry One: April 5, 2016 – Lyon, France

READ HERE: Blog Entry Two: April 6, 2016 – Baguettes, monuments, baguettes & baguettes

Blog Entry: April 9, 2016 – Toulouse-Barcelona

After missing a few days of blogging, here is the scoop on what’s been happening

But first, note that this blog was written while I was in a transport van to Barcelona.

“But Lachie,” you say, “weren’t you supposed to be taking off to begin the ferry today?” Well here’s the story.

I arrived in Toulouse on a Wednesday evening and found out that our ferry flight had been delayed until the following Wednesday. This had me worried because (as all of you know and have booked tickets for *winky face – get one yourself*) the hanger party is on Saturday the 16th of April (this week) and I should probably be back for that.

However the reason for the delay was that a tool was dropped on the undercarriage door and dented it, so needed to be fixed before we leave, therefore my already tight schedule to fly back to Australia became even more compressed. A bit like being in the metro again (read about that here).

The next day was a bit of a write off spent mostly trying to get attain my security pass into the Blagnac airport (ATR factory) facility. Due to a mix up with some plans I spent a lot of time waiting with a funny little man glaring at me before walking back to my hotel in the absolutely freezing rain. I’m 99% certain that if anyone licked my forehead their tongue would have frozen to it (luckily I was able to beat off the hoards of people trying to lick my forehead).

That night there was a change of plans again, and the departure was moved forward to Saturday morning. Things were looking up! Wait, scrap that 2 hours later the news came in that it’s back at Tuesday. I thought that was beginning to look pretty solid.

My first proper day in Toulouse began with a morning adventure as I wanted to see a bit more of the surrounding area, so I set off on a walk and found an absolutely beautiful little park with a lake and some nice walking trails. It was very cold and windy morning, and once again I was colder than a Zooper Dooper. I really should have brought that scarf.

Next up was a meeting with Garry and the team from PNG Air at ATR to have lunch before heading to the ATR Delivery Centre where we waited for a while and also checked out the assembly line for the ATR’s. We were eagerly awaiting 3pm as a contact in Airbus had organised a special tour of the Airbus A350 Final Assembly Line and Airbus visitor centre. When it finally rolled around we were like kids in a candy store.

Seeing the absolutely massive facilities that these aircraft were made in was phenomenal. It’s logistically a huge operation with parts of the aircraft made all over the world and transported here to Toulouse to be finally put together into a whole wide body aircraft. They are really incredible aircraft and very interesting to see them produced. I think I’ll start saving.

With a number of delays we found ourselves with a little time on our hands, and being only 400km from Barcelona we (Garry, the PNG air team and I) jumped in our van and hit the road. None of us had been there before, and we decided that some good food and a little culture was in order!

Unwavering belief drives Vanessa Sprague’s support of son Lachie and his global dream

“I need everyone to be determined and believe this is going to happen”

It took just 13 words for Lachlan Smart’s family to get on board with his Wings Around the World (WATW) dream and pledge their unwavering support for the Sunshine Coast teenager, and now within three months of his departure for his record breaking solo flight around the world, the preparation is stepping up a gear.

While Lachlan is busy familiarising himself with international customs protocol and learning the ins and outs of ferry flying on a trip from Toulouse, France back to Port Moresby over the coming days, the WATW team is preparing for this Saturday’s next fundraiser, a golden age of aviation themed hangar party, an event Lachlan’s mother Vanessa Sprague said will be a great event for everyone involved.

“I can’t wait for this Saturday, it will be a lot of fun. We are going to transform the hangar into the theme celebrating the golden age of aviation and we hope for a great atmosphere,” Vanessa said.

“A lot of the people that are already coming aren’t especially aviation enthusiasts, but it’s going to be a fun night and there will be something for everyone – I have my 1920’s themed dress ready for it!”


“I’m so proud to be supporting Lachlan with this. He’s just a kid from Nambour who’s had a regular upbringing and from the start he has had the whole family on board” – Vanessa Sprague


The fundraiser on Saturday will be a mix of preparation and pleasure for the WATW team as they get a chance to enjoy the night, but also take crucial steps forward in helping raise funds for Lachlan’s trip, a process that Vanessa says has been challenging so far.

“I’m so proud to be supporting Lachlan with this. He’s just a kid from Nambour who’s had a regular upbringing and from the start he has had the whole family on board,” she said.

“We see how determined and grateful he is for the support. He’s a young man who can put his mind to things, stay focused and this is his dream, of course we’re putting everything into supporting him.

“Without a doubt the fundraising process has been very hard, but you need to be determined and not give in. We are slowly finding the right people to talk to and hoping that they all jump on board.

“The support we have had from local companies so far has been great, and we hope that many more can join. This is a trip that will be great for the Sunshine Coast and will add to the list of achievements from people in our region.

“More than that, we want to the community to be a part of Wings Around the World, and that’s what this Saturday is about. It’s something different and we encourage people to come along with their friends and family and become a part of this world record, it’s been a rollercoaster so far and Lachie hasn’t even departed yet. It’s very exciting.”

This Saturday’s hangar party will be held at Aero Dynamic Flight Academy at Maroochydore Airport, beginning at 6pm. Guests are invited to come dressed in the theme of the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, with the best dressed receiving awards. There will also be live music, food and drinks available on the night.

To book your tickets, click HERE.

France, day two: Baguettes, monuments, baguettes & baguettes

Lachlan Smart has left the country, but not for a premature departure for his trip, rather he has made his way to France to make the most of an opportunity experience ferry flying first hand as he embarks on a trip from Toulouse to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on a bona fide international ferry flight.

Earlier this week Lachlan spoke about his time spent with Garry Mitchell who assisted with flight planning and the intricacies of ferry flying, which you can read here.

Over the course of the trip Lachlan will be joining Mitchell and a team of pilots in the capacity of a cadet, with his aim to attain a better understanding of the international environment, specifically pre-flight routines and customs requirements at various locations as well as time spent learning HF radio communications and differing international communications protocol.

Over the course of his time away, Lachie will be sending us blogs of his trip where possible, so stay tuned for more information!


READ HERE: Blog Entry One: April 5, 2016 – Lyon, France

Blog Entry Two: April 6, 2016 – Paris, France

Yesterday was absolutely phenomenal.

After departing the TGV (which did end up taking me to Paris…Win!) I awkwardly found my way to the Metro and onwards to the apartment of a friend I was staying with in the east of Paris. I have to say, keeping in line with yesterday’s experiences, finding my way through the Paris Metro system for the first time was like trying to pick up that last grain of rice with chopsticks.

‘Wrong end of the station…Ok I’ll go the other way, wrong end again… How many ends does this place have?! OK attempt 3…. Line 9…yes that’s me! Correct line but the train is going the wrong direction…’

Eventually things would get back on track (pun intended) and I would make it to the correct line. Things became much easier after a couple of rides and I understood the system in no time. I found it absolutely incredible the number of people that could be transported in one carriage, sardines would have complained, it was really off the rails (yep, again).

Once you arrive at your stop you explode out of the pressurised container and begin the mad dash for the ‘sortie’ or exit, it certainly made for some good cardio train-ing (ok, I’ll stop now). Paris is definitely different to the tranquil Sunshine Coast region that I have grown up in!

IMG_2219Next I headed back into the city after dropping my bags off and getting into tourist mode. It was already midday so I had to be careful with my time, as I wanted to see a few things. First stop: The Louvre. Whilst I didn’t go inside due to the limited amount of time I had, it certainly was cool to see from the outside. Deciding a good walk was in order after devouring possibly one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten I headed on foot along the Seine to stop number two: the Eiffel Tower.


(Lachie note: To explain this sandwich a bit more it was an incredible culinary experience. A beautiful baguette that was crunchy on the outside but soft and warm on the inside with fresh crisp lettuce; juicy, luscious tomato; smoky ham; cheese that can only be described as soft gold; and a sauce that was pretty much liquid perfection. Ok back to the Eiffel Tower.)


I never realised how big the Eiffel Tower actually was! I went to get a cliché tourist photo from the north of the tower in the same place that Hitler had a photograph taken during the Nazi occupation of Paris, before climbing up the stairs to level one and two of the tower where I enjoyed a beer overlooking the city. I could have spent hours up there just admiring the view of the city, however the rest of my sightseeing beckoned so I allowed myself an hour up on level two before climbing/tripping down the stairs back to ground level.

Unfortunately the top of the tower was closed so I wasn’t able to make it all the way up to the top. Next stop was the Arc de Triomphe!

Now I know that those of you who know Paris are probably thinking “Lachie you turkey you would have saved so much time and effort if you hadn’t zig-zagged your way across the city,” well let me explain. You see, my incredible sandwich that I mentioned earlier was the cause of all this trouble. Being a teenage boy I house the stomach of a whale, and the sandwich took most of my attention. So instead of taking the logical route (Louvre – Arc de Triumph – Photo from north of Tower – Tower – Photo from South of Tower) I ditched my plan and walked straight for the Tower from the Louvre. Silly, I know.

Moving on, I headed to the Arc de Triomphe and witnessed a car do about 5 laps of the roundabout trying to exit in similar fashion to National Lampoons Vacation. The monument itself was amazing, especially the intricate carvings and artwork on it, an absolute pleasure to visit.

It had been my hope to wrap up an incredible day at dinner with my generous hosts, however I was exhausted by the time I arrived home. So instead I found another sandwich and hit the hay. Day of exploring, complete.

Before jumping on the train to Toulouse, and writing this blog, I managed to make up for last night by having tea with my host Clémentine before departing. Paris, it got a big tick from me!

My next stop is Toulouse, an aerospace centre of Europe with the production factories for Airbus and ATR located in the airport. They also have the HQ for the European Space Agency (ESA), so really it’s heaven for me. Maybe I should drop around a few résumés?

Bonjour! Je m’appelle Lachie!

Lachlan Smart has left the country, but not for a premature departure for his trip, rather he has made his way to France to make the most of an opportunity experience ferry flying first hand as he embarks on a trip from Toulouse to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on a bona fide international ferry flight.

Earlier this week Lachlan spoke about his time spent with Garry Mitchell who assisted with flight planning and the intricacies of ferry flying, which you can read here.

Over the course of the trip Lachlan will be joining Mitchell and a team of pilots in the capacity of a cadet, with his aim to attain a better understanding of the international environment, specifically pre-flight routines and customs requirements at various locations as well as time spent learning HF radio communications and differing international communications protocol.

Over the course of his time away, Lachie will be sending us blogs of his trip where possible, so stay tuned for more information!


Blog Entry One: April 6, 2016 – Lyon, France

Last night I arrived in Lyon after 30 hours of planes, airports and intermittent sleep courtesy of Beethoven’s lesser known fifth snoring symphony performed by the chorus of loud sleepers around seat 35A.

Today I am travelling from Lyon to Paris, and after fumbling around to find my way I found myself on a train that seemed to be going in the right direction.

But before I found myself on the train, the few hours in Lyon did provide a few highlights including an introduction to French taxi driving courtesy of my trip from the Airport to the hotel in the back of an Audi (not as luxury car here as it is back home it seems). It wasn’t the car that had me the most taken aback, it was the speed. If my memory serves me correctly the speed limit was 110km/h, but it was hard to read travelling past at 160km/h…I can’t imagine how the driver of the Renault that flew past us faster than Craig Lowndes on a hot lap at Bathurst managed to see it!

After reaching my hotel in Lyon I was more than happy to accept the embrace of the white sheets and soft pillows, however a little voice in my head was telling me something (“Ring your mum and tell her you’ve arrived safely or you’ll regret the 35 messages and 16 missed calls you’ll have to deal with tomorrow”). So after contact with my family I drifted off into a blissful five hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Ready to take on the next day, and a train trip to Paris I contacted the WATW team, then set about my day and the challenge ahead of me: successfully purchasing a train ticket. It’s times like this I dream of having a plane to just fly to each location that I need to!

I arrived at the train station prior to the information booth and manned ticket selling booth opening, so I produced my finest French speaking skills, which includes phrases such as “Do you speak English” and “Paris?” Unsurprisingly it was met with blank looks, which loosely translated to “What is this idiot trying to say?” However with a little persistence and some creative sign language I found myself on the TGV, writing this blog.

I really should have practiced my French…

Calling on the best to help prepare for everything from customs to bribes

The past few weeks have been busy to say the least, very busy and much of it has been centred around planning everything from flight routes to fuel consumption, what I will need to produce at customs offices in each location as well as the less savory thought of the bribe situations. Fortunately I recently spent some time with a very experienced ferry pilot by the name of Garry Mitchell who has helped us prepare for all of the above, and some.

Based in Cairns, Garry is a ferry pilot and used to run a business named ‘Australian Air Ferry’. Before I go on, I better talk about what a ferry pilot actually does with their time! Pilots such as Garry are the sorts of people that a new aircraft owner would turn to in order to have their aircraft flown internationally either from the factory, or a previous owners country, to the location where they would like to keep the plane.

So it goes without saying that his experience and knowledge of international flight in light planes is invaluable to draw on for me as I prepare for the trip, but also for the rest of the team so we all understand exactly what is involved with moving light aircraft across vast distances.

During the time spent together Garry explained a number of different requirements for international long distance flying and a key component of that is to ensure you have the right forms ready to be submitted on arrival at a particular location. He also spent time going through the various requirements and communications that I would encounter throughout the trip.

There is a lot to think about.

As you might well imagine, planning a flight like this is no easy task, so we needed to also think about ways to minimise costs and use the support of our contacts network around the globe. A large portion of time was also spent with our heads buried in charts to decide which would be the best way to navigate through some of the world’s busiest air spaces.

Overall we had a highly successful week with Garry and the bulk of our planning structure was put in place. Our relationship with Garry will now be ongoing as our plans progress and the trip draws nearer.

Watch out for some news later this week as the next step in my preparation flying overseas continues – it’s exciting times ahead for Wings Around the World!