Date : 03 / 07 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton – VK3PC
The commemorative Amelia Earhart flight by Brian Lloyd WB6RQN reached Darwin to enjoy local hospitality and some Territory Day celebration events that included a fireworks display. When the 62 year old Texan landed at Darwin airport on July 1 there were so many aircraft there he had to put his single-engine 1979 Mooney 231 aircraft in the ‘boneyard’ for no longer needed aircraft.
Greeting his arrival in Australia was Stuie VK8NSB, who had been in contact with him on the 20 metre band and via a satellite phone while he was in the air, having left Bandung Indonesia. During an earlier news conference in Bandung, Brian WB6RQN told of his around the world flight, the achievements Amelia Earhart who disappeared in 1937, and how he was looking forward to seeing Australia as a tourist. Stuie VK8NSB found that most of the time he talked about mutual interests in radio, flying, and in telling Stuie’s two young children of his adventures so far. He hoped to return to Australia later. “With Brian now part of the family, we headed to the Territory Day fireworks at East Point Darwin, had dinner there … spending about two hours before heading home.” Brian WB6RQN was very grateful for the hospitality after his 10 hour flight. Spent time answering emails, updating Facebook and other Internet requirements, and off to sleep.
As Stuie VK8NSB explains the flyer was cooked a ‘big breaky, bacon and eggs with a full spread’, then taken to the Casuarina shopping centre for an Australian phone card. He had planned to fly out of Darwin at lunch time Sunday, with Stuie VK8NSB willing to assist in many ways including seeing that the aircraft was refuelled.
“I helped him push his plane on to the taxiway, wrote a welcome to Australia message and signed the wing, and oh, helped him stick the flag of Australia on the plane – each country he goes to he puts the sticker on, in order.” Stuie VK8NSB found the whole experience very rewarding, and putting on the Australian flag was a “very cool to be part of that with Brian”.
During the meeting Brian WB6RQN revealed that he “plans to drop a wreath of flowers when over Howland Island in memory of Amelia Earhart.” That was where the famed aviator and author Amelia Earhart, and her navigator Fred Noonan, vanished July 2, 1937. He told Stuie VK8NSB it was his belief that both were “safely on the beach on remote Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) and attempted to radio for help, but ran out of fuel and died”.
After taking off from Darwin on Sunday he was worked on the 20 metre band by Mike VK8MA who had him near Katherine on the away to Central Australia’s Uluru (Ayres Rock), involving a five hour flight.
Many VKs worked him on this leg. News of the event was well known with Facebook chatter, the WIA website, the Sunday morning VK1WIA broadcast and in general. On reaching Uluru, Brian WB6RQN said: “I got some good shots of Ayers Rock. Now it’s off to Birdsville for a quick lunch and then on to Bundaberg.” The Australian flight plan ends in Sydney where a TV interview was planned. After Sydney across the Tasman Sea comes Auckland, then the Pacific for Suva, a fly-over of Howland Island which has no runway and where a flower reef will be dropped, to Hawaii, then ending the two month flight. Earlier the flight has took him across the Atlantic Ocean from Miami, to South America, through Africa, India, South-East Asia, and to Australia.
Brian WB6RQN is on 14.210, 14.346, 18.117 or 7.130 using a 125 watt transmitter on SSB.