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Pilot’s Blog: The finish line is in sight

My last week and a half before reaching familiar Aussie soil was not without a hitch. From Egypt I encountered troubles with air traffic control, ground staff and airports including delays due to fuel, and even having an airport shut down due to a departing president!

They were all challenges (mostly) expected to be encountered on a round the world flight, however they were not all expected within a week.

As with all challenges I have encountered on this flight it came down to preparation, and the willingness to put the hard work in to push through the obstacle, some patience and where needed, persistence.

From Egypt to Oman I encountered some intense turbulence that I had throughout the whole trip. It lasted for 5 and a half hours, and compounded a day of frustrations after I had already been delayed by 2 hours after waiting for fuel in Egypt. After landing in Muscat I was again playing the waiting game, this time it was for 45 minutes to be picked up to go to my accommodation.

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Even when you’re waiting for fuel, there is still time to send a Snapchat to friends!

Now, I don’t want to be seen as a whinger, it was only 45 minutes, but…it was in 36-degree heat, and that was at 9pm at night. After earlier delays and spending a day in the plane, this was just icing on the cake of a frustrating day. I was officially hammered when I arrived at my hotel. Spent.

After a day in Oman, and meeting with some local media, I was fresh for my next flight which flight took me across the ocean and southern India into Sri Lanka. There were a few issues with payment encountered, but nothing I couldn’t fix. But Sri Lanka was important for another reason. It was my final destination before I began a marathon 3 days of flying back to Australia. Ahead of me were a few back-to-back legs as I skipped my way back home.

It began with a flight from Sri Lanka to Malaysia, which was pleasingly shorter than expected with some great tailwinds. I had an overnight stay there with some family friends, which really did make the stop enjoyable.

Before I could really make much sense of the country I was off again the next day, dodging a storm over the top of Kuala Lumpur as I exited and headed for Jakarta, Indonesia – with a few communication challenges along the way.

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Dodging storms on the way out of Malaysia

Another quick turnaround meant that Indonesia was a short lived stop, but a little longer than I had anticipated. As had seemingly become the norm in the second part of the trip, there were delays upon departure, but this time because the Indonesian President was flying out of the same airport as me, at the same time.

As you can guess, Lachie Smart and his little Cirrus weren’t first priority at this point in time.

After fitting in line behind the President I quickly reached the coastline of Indonesia and began my last overwater stretch of the flight.

Now the boundary between Indonesian and Australian airspace is a waypoint known as SAPDA, and when I finally reached it I was greeted with the best I could possibly have heard after a difficult morning:

“G’Day”

I was home.

Landing in Broome was a relief and a feeling of excitement. Once landed I taxied underneath an arch of water from the fire trucks at Broome airport and made my way to parking where I was welcomed by Australian customs, media and some surprise guests – my grandparents Lynne and Phil.

Broome was full of surprises, and my time there was boosted when I was taken for a scenic flight over the Kimberley’s and Horizontal Waterfalls of WA. A special shoutout needs to go to King Leopold Air for taking me, and also a massive thank you to them for looking after the maintenance of my Cirrus.

As I departed from Broome I headed to my second Australian stop, Darwin.

While in Darwin I went for a swim in a ‘cage of death’ with a crocodile, and caught up with some old family friends, as well as getting a chance to refuel and prepare the aeroplane for the next flight down to Longreach – back to mighty Queensland!

I may be biased in my favourite Australian state…maybe.

Getting down to Longreach proved a little more interesting than expected with a few weather cells forming around where I was flying, however nothing near as bad as I had experienced elsewhere on the journey!

If you haven’t been to Longreach before, you should treat yourself and head there, primarily because the Qantas Heritage Museum is there, and not only did I get to check it out, I also was asked to give a talk and do a Q&A session with a few interested followers. For all those that came along, thanks for being there!

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Arriving in Broome, my first stop in Australia! The Sunshine Coast will be my proper ‘home’ stop though

Then as soon as I arrived (seemingly), I was off to Bundaberg. The flight out was smooth and relaxing, and fantastic tailwinds gave me a short flight (and my personal record ground speed in the Cirrus) to my last stop before home.

As I write this I am less than a 45-minute flight away from completing what has been a dream of mine for almost 3 years, and what do I feel? I feel so many emotions that I don’t think I could write them all down in this blog.

Excitement to be home, relief to have achieved this huge goal, trepidation for what comes next. All things that are going through my mind but in all honesty… I’m just looking forward to being home.