Sunshine Coast teenager Lachlan Smart has landed safely in Hollister, California following an epic flight of over 13 hours from Hilo, Hawaii, the longest leg of his round the world flight.
The marathon flight had been originally been scheduled to take place on Monday July 11 (July 11-12 in Australia), but with winds caused by an easing Hurricane Blas still causing concern, Smart exemplified his maturity and ability as a pilot to make the safety conscious decision to delay the flight 24 hours.
After a sporadic night’s sleep, Smart departed Hilo at 2:30am local time (10:30pm AEST, July 12), landing in Hollister just after 6.45pm local time (11:45am AEST). Exhausted, he described the first two hours of his flight as a difficult period, before saying that the crossing to North America went much better than he had anticipated.
“I tried to get to sleep early before this flight, but it took a while and it was broken sleep the whole time. I wasn’t nervous about the flight itself, I just knew it was a significant day of this trip,” Smart said.
“The first two hours of the flight were very challenging. Once I was past the runway lights on take off, it was pitch black. I imagine it was a little bit like being in space. In those first couple of hours I was flying the aircraft manually due to the weight on board with extra fuel. The amount of concentration needed was very high and it was tiring.
“Once I pushed through that challenge the flight was great, really it was smooth sailing and for the last 90 minutes in the air I had a tailwind, which pushed me ahead of schedule.”
Unlike the other leg’s of his round-the-world flight, the trip from Hilo to Hollister also saw Smart cross an estimated ‘point of no return’, a last point in the flight route where he would still be able to safely return to land in Hawaii, or be sure he had enough fuel to reach California. With favourable conditions, Smart said it was an easy decision to continue to his destination.
“I was past the toughest part of the flight by the point of no return, and really the decision was easy. At that point I was looking like having five hours or more of fuel in reserve by the time I reached Hollister, so I was comfortable with my decision to continue the flight.”
Smart will now spend two nights in Hollister before continuing on to Las Vegas as he makes his way north through the USA.