June 13th Darwin
Australia to Manado, Indonesia
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.
13 June was to prove to be a lucky day for us in more ways than one. Our DHL package
of Navigation charts which we could not continue our journey without, arrived
on time. Essential to the trip is reducing weight on the aircraft, so the importance
of being able to have DHL as a sponsor to ship ahead parts and charts has been
a crucial part in our planning. 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.
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!
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.
22.25 GMT we passed over the equator and back into the northern hemisphere. The
aircraft didn't know any different but psychologically 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. Another
night landing and back to Indonesia, this time we are back North of the Equator
on the long way home.
arrival at Manado we were met by seven guys from the airport, security and customs.
We were shocked to find out there was no Avgas available on the island of Manado.
We had been assured by our clearance agents that fuel was available but it seems
they stopped stocking fuel 3 months ago. With only 34 US Gallons of fuel remaining
in the aircraft we were stuck in Manado and did not have enough fuel to fly to
another airport. After taking in this shocking news we came up with the only solution
to use motor car fuel to get us to the Philippines. After checking with our engineer
back home we got advice and the ok to use Premium motor card fuel as a once off
for the flight but our altitude would be limited to 8,000 feet. Tomorrow we will
try to order fuel in drums form the city and refuel the aircraft.