Date : 08 / 07 / 2017
Author : Jim Linton – VK3PC
The around the world Project Earhart flight has left Sydney to cross the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. Pilot and radio amateur Brian Lloyd WB6RQN, 62 of Texas, is marking the flight by Amelia Earhart 80 years ago.
Brian in his small aircraft, flying by visual flight rules, had a minor transgression by nudging restricted air space, but after correction landed without incident at Warnervale about 95 km north of Sydney at nightfall. After a rest and feed he stopped at the local radio station for an interview before preparing for the flight to Sydney International Airport.
A problem with an antenna tuning unit meant little Amateur Radio activity wasn’t possible until it was fixed. As Brian WB6RQN explains, as soon as he got to altitude he radioed Sydney. That caused some confusion at first, but soon the penny dropped that he was on his way. He said: “Sydney is a big airport with nothing but airliners. I doubt they have seen anything as small as Spirit in ages. I landed and they even sent out a follow-me truck to guide me where I was to meet the customs and immigration people. Sure, I could have navigated there by myself but the truck gets me there without any possibility for error.” Brian WB6RQN continued: “The guys from customs and immigration were excited to see me and said I was a celebrity in Australia. First I’d heard of it. Anyway, they signed and stamped all the paperwork so I could be on my way.”
He took off for New Zealand into beautiful clear-blue sky, about an hour late. But a 45 knot tailwind soon had his groundspeed up over 200 kts so the projected arrival time came back to its original schedule. Then Brian encountered thunder snow but used a Stormscope to navigate a path. At a lower altitude he had warmer air, no snow, no lightning and no icing. He landed at Hamilton Airport on the North Island of New Zealand. There he was greeted by officials and showed them he had the correct spray cans to kill off any ‘imported’ insects. There he will stay for a week, hoping to fix the ATU and do some maintenance on the single-engine 1979 Mooney 231 aircraft before the big flight across the Pacific.
The flight began on June 1 in Miami Florida taking him across the Atlantic Ocean to South America, through Africa, India, South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.