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June 11th, Darwin Australia

Another slight delay in Darwin! The alternator problem that was supposed to be a quick fix job has delayed us another day here in Darwin. We arrived at the airport expecting PH-SMD to be ready to go. The parts did arrive on time from Brisbane. New brushes were installed and the alternator reassembled, installed and tested. The results of the test showed no change and the ammeter needle was still fluctuating widely. A few heads were scratched and the it appeared that the problem originated from a wire running from the master switch to the alternator field was not providing a good connection as a result of being crimped. While the work to fit a new cable would only take about 60 minutes it was too late for us to get airborne due to an arrival curfew in Manado. We are now running two days late but we had time built in to crossing the pacific so we should arrive in the US on time. Another night planned here in Australia. If you are going to get stranded somewhere then it is best if it happens where you have friends. Thanks to Cathy and Vinko for putting up with us again. Friday 13 June was to prove to be a lucky day for us in more ways than one. We arrived at the SAETAS hanger (maintenance company) to find SMD back together and ready to go. An engineer had come in early to refit the panels and ensure it would be ready for us to go. After a brief ground run, all was well. We were expecting a hefty bill for two days work and also for the parts needed to solve the alternator problem. Chris and Michael decided to make a contribution to WF2003 by donating their time and services. Thank you to Chris Perkins and Michael Amiet of SAE aircraft maintenance and to the engineers who put so much work into SMD, Jason McCarthy and James 'Brains' Reynolds. Darwin Australia- Manado Indonesia Departure from Darwin was just in the nick of time to arrive at our destination before curfew. Airborne of runway 29 we were quickly established on track to Manado, climbing to 5000 feet. We would remain at this level until we could burn off sufficient fuel to continue to the level required to enter Indonesian airspace. On departure we sighted Bathurst Island to our left and the fringes of Kakadu National Park could be seen off our right wing tip. Clear skies allowed us to enjoy our final moments in Australia. It has been fantastic returning to this great country and always sad leaving a place unsure of the next time you will return. Till Galway then! Brisbane Centre lost radar contact with us about 70 miles northeast of Darwin and the HF aerial was dispatched to make further position reports. We departed Australian airspace and entered Indonesia after 240 nautical miles. This is our second time in Indonesia on this trip. The entire flight is in effect over water. There are islands scattered everywhere but very few offering sanctuary in the event of an emergency landing. The lush vegetation on the islands in contrast to the blue water offered up some spectacular views as we moved northwards. A decreasing tailwind meant we would arrive after the curfew time imposed at Manado airport. After a few confusing calls to Ujang Radio on HF it transpired that the tower would be in operation for our arrival. At 22.25 GMT we passed over the equator and back into the northern hemisphere. The aircraft didn't know any different but physcologically we felt that we were heading north towards home. The sunset was breathtaking from 11000 feet. Nightfall would mean an instrument approach into Manado. The only approach available was an NBD. The approach is interesting in that it uses two different NDB stations neither of which are on the centreline. After crossing over the second station you need to make a sharp left turn on finals. Due to high terrain a late descent was required. The airport was sighted about 20 miles out and we proceeded visually once we were clear of the 6000 ' mountain on our right side.

Fixing the alternator

Vinko and Alan at Darwin Airport
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Alan's favorite aircraft, the DC3
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Douglas DC3

Interviewed on arrival at Darwin

Ditch Bag