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World Flight Diary

July 10th, Saint Johns to Shannon, direct - 1684 nautical miles
After arrival at Goose Bay July 7th we studied the weather forecast for the next few days. The forecast was bad. Our plan was always to fly from Goose Bay to Iceland which is the shortest sea crossing and therefore the more sensible route. After Iceland we would fly to Wick in Scotland and then home to Shannon. The problem with this proposed route were the low pressure systems moving north east to Iceland from the Atlantic. Front after front moved in from the Atlantic towards Iceland. A blocking high over Ireland and the UK which was squeezing the low systems north east towards Iceland rather than the Lows usually sweeping over Ireland...
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July 03-6th New Jersey and Manhatten New York
The next day after our arrival we visited the Air Victory Museum at South Jersey Regional Airport. This excellent museum had a range of aircraft from F14 Tomcat, Corsair, Phantom, Jolly Green Giant helicopter, E2 AWAX aircraft and many more. It was certainly a once off to be able to sit in a F14 Tomcat and then to be able to walk aroud on its wings. The highlight of our trip to New Jersey was the flight in a L-59 fighter jet...

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July 1-2 Seattle to New Jersey, USA - 1902 miles
While on a Base Leg for landing at South Jersey Airport we heard the friendly voice of Al Nugent on the radio confirming we were setup for landing. On Finals for landing it was gusty conditions and the runway although 4,000 feet long was very narrow compared to the main airports we were used to landing at. Taxing in we saw a crowd of about 30 people at the restaurant building, we pulled up outside not realising they were all there to meet us. On embarking from our aircraft we were greeted with warm handshakes, a cold bear each and flowers. It was truly a wonderful moment to have so many people there to wish us luck and welcome to New Jersey. Thanks to Al Nugent for organising the warm welcome...
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June 26 Sitka, Alaska to Seattle, USA - 743 miles
We awoke to find Sitka just as beautiful a place as it had promised to be on our approach to the airport the previous evening. Sitka is a small town that swells with a surge of tourists to over 6000 people in the peak of summer. This is summer season and we were lucky to find rooms at a local hotel. Sitka airport is situated between Kruzof and Baranof Islands and connected to Baranof by bridge. Surrounded by spectacular mountains, the runway itself is closely watched over by Mount Edgecombe at 4000 feet. The weather here is very most like home at the forecast showed low level cloud and heavy rain.....
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June 22 Akita, Japan to Adak, Alaska - 1840 miles, 18 hours flying
The day started early with a 7am wake up call at Akita. We headed to the airport with Ms Soko Namba, our clearance agent in Japan. Our plan was to fly to Memanbetsu Airport which is in North Japan, to land and refuel for the long Pacific flight. We had to make our decision to go and attempt the Pacific crossing at Akita airport as there was no Customs or Immigration in Memanbetsu. At Akita airport we divided the pre planning work. Paul looked after the flight plan while Alan assembled the weather and studied the forecast to see if we had the right winds and weather to make the flight that day. Our first problem came about when our flight plan route was not accepted. Due to poor HF coverage over the Pacific, Tokyo control would not let us go direct to Adak but only to follow the approved airway route which increased the distance to over 1950 miles. At this distance we would not make it with the fuel we had onboard. Eventually Paul got speaking to Anchorage control and they approved our route direct to Adak from the Japan/Alaska boundary. This brought our distance down to 1840 miles (still 100 miles more than our original planned route but with the right winds we would make it!).....click here to read more

June 17 Manado, Indonesia to Manila, Philippines
Cyclone Soudelor, which had delayed us for two days in Indonesia, has been downgraded to a tropical storm and is set to track north of the Philippines and towards Japan. Not good news for WF2003 but its current position means we can finally get underway to Manila. A late morning departure means we can arrive with most of the bad weather having passed north of Manila and the forecast shows rain showers associated with some low cloud. There is a possibility of evening thunderstorms so we carry enough fuel to hold for up to an hour should these conditions exist on arrival. We decided to take a more westerly route keeping us away from all the poor flying conditions in the wake of cyclone Soudelor....
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June 14-16 Manado, Indonesia
An overnight stop for rest has turned into a two delay due to weather. A tropical depression, which was upgraded to a cyclone, is preventing us moving onwards to Manila. Cyclone Soudelor is expected to track coastal offshore of the Philippines and continue northeast to Japan. We are keeping a close eye its movements and hope to get back in the air on Monday 16 June. Success with fuel as we were able to purchase two drums of Avgas from a missionary based on the island...
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June 13 Darwin, Australia to the Island of Manado, Indonesia
Friday 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. We arrived at the SAETAS hanger (maintenance company) to find SMD back together and ready to go. 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 SAETAS and to the engineers....Our flight to Manado saw us cross the Equator on the long way home....On arrival at Manado we were told there was no fuel available for our aircraft!.... click here to read more

June 11 Darwin, Australia
We were due to leave for Manada, Indonesia today but the aircraft is not ready to go. After our maintenance check in Broome the Amp metre is still fluctuating wildly in flight. Back in Broome they replaced the regulator which we thought would solve the problem but there was no change. So once we arrived in Darwin we had a maintenance shop have a look at the aircraft and they found the alternator was on the way out. The brushes on the alternator have to be replaced and parts are due tomorrow. It is better we found this out now and not while flying over the Pacific.....
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June 1-8 Adelaide, Australia
Original plans to cross the pacific from the east coast of Australia were changed a few months ago because of the limited range of our aircraft. Due to media and fund raising commitments we departed Broome for Adelaide on a Virgin Blue commercial flight. It was really good to get back into an aeroplane and have someone else fly us somewhere. Virgin Blue began a direct service between Broome and Adelaide a number of weeks ago reducing the journey time to about 3 and half hours....
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May 28 - June 7 Maintenance in Broome
World Flight 2003 choose Cable Beach Air Maintenance to carry out the 100 hour maintenance check on their Piper Cherokee Six before it departs Australia for the long Pacific crossing. Cable Beach Air Maintenance carried out a thorough check of the aircraft and the few items that looked marginal were replaced to ensure a safe Pacific crossing... click here to read more

May 27 - Bali, Indonesia to Broome, Australia - 6hrs 10mins
This flight was short in duration but entirely over water. Getting through Bali, where once again we elected to handle ourselves, was relatively easy. Some low cloud provided light turbulence but this all cleared about forty miles off shore and we leveled off at 5500 feet, a level we would maintain until reaching the Australian FIR (Flight Information Region) boundary. Bali advised us to contact Brisbane centre on HF radio but it was to be about 30 minutes before we found a frequency that they could hear us on. We had made contact with them by telephone the previous day so they were expecting us and we were comfortable entering Australia without radio contact. From the entry point at the boundary to Broome it is 470 nautical miles direct. It was great to hear Australian voices on the air again. .... click here to read more

Indian Ocean - 6 hours of water

May 24 - Jakarta to Bali, Indonesia - 4hrs 10mins
Over the past few months many people have posed the question, "why visit Bali?" I guess this was in reaction to the bombings that occurred here 19 months ago and concern for the continuing terrorist threat that exists worldwide. Bali is a beautiful place that has been deeply affected by those tragic events and yet it still has to be seen for its beauty, its warmth and its people. For a long time Ireland was subject to similar views from its potential tourists and yet they still came to visit and enjoy what Ireland had to offer.
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William & Wallis saying goodbye

May 22 - Phuket, Thailand to Jakarta, Indonesia - 9hrs 35mins
Our flight today brought us from Thailand to cross Malaysia, over Singapore into Indonesia. Our reason for a stopover of two nights in Jakarta is Alan's friend William Furney lives in Jakarta. William moved to Jakarta 5 years ago and is married to Sara, they have two children, Wallis and Reuven. Landing at Halim International Airport (nearby Jakarta International) we were impressed by the wide selection of aircraft at the airport. Halim is a joint military and civil airport for light aircraft and executive jets. It also seems to be an aircraft graveyard with engineless aircraft parked around the field. Many thanks to William, Sara, Wallis and Reuven for putting us up in Jakarta, a much welcomed rest stop. .... click here to read more

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May 21 - Chiang Mai to Phuket, Thailand - 5hrs 13mins
During our stay in Chiang Mai, Paul's cousin, Colm Galvin met up with us. Colm is based there teaching English to local people. It is very cheap to live here but there are two price levels, one for Thai and one for tourists. The approach into Phuket's runway 27 is very interesting. Radar vectors from ATC brought us over Ko Saumi and we cloud see Krabi Island out to our left (in between rain showers). The approach is also offset and you actually line up with a hill to the left of the runway, and then visually maneuver with the centerline. The runway is also on a steep hill giving the illusion of a very short runway... click here to read more

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May 17 - Patna, India to Chiang Mai, Thailand - 8 hours 23 min
Another three hours of filling in paper work was required before we could get out of Patna. Once you accept this delay and understand the process it is very pleasant to deal with all the airport authorities. With the aircraft loaded and ready to go we called for a clearance to start up. Informed of a ten-minute delay we climbed out of the cockpit and took refuge under the wing to escape the blistering sun. Eventually we got airborne at 1100 hours local time. We were cleared direct to Calcutta. ....click here to read more

May 16 - Ahmedabad, India to Patna, India - 4 hours 42 min
We had hoped to get airborne from Ahmedabad 8am but with the long paperwork process we didn't get going until 11.30. We wanted to get going as early as possible - the later we left it the hotter it got and the performance of the aircraft would suffer in the heat (not to mention the reduced performance of the pilots in this heat). At 11.30am the temperature was already over 40 degrees and cumulus (Cu) clouds were popping up all over the sky indicating a bumpy flight. We had taken extra fuel for the flight so we were heavy. Adding an extra 10 knots onto our rotate speed due to our weight and the heat we climbed slowly into the sky leaving Ahmedabad behind us. At times our rate of climb was down to 300 feet per minute as we climbed to 7,000 feet. In the cruise the thermals were awful, we were being kicked around the sky, one minute we would fly into an updraft and have a rate of climb of over 2,000 feet a minute (off the scale of our VSI instrument)....click here to read more

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May 15 - Muscat Oman to Ahmedabad, India - 7 hours 41 min
The wake up call at 6am was not welcomed as I certainly could have done with a few more hours asleep but we had a long flight ahead. From our planning it was expected to be about 9 hours flying and that was with a ground speed of approx 110 knots. We were very impressed with the Oman Sheraton Hotel, the service was excellent. Arriving at Oman International Airport our Handling Agent Oman Air organized weather and lodged our flight plan. The big weather feature on the charts is the large cyclone moving north towards India. The cyclone would not affect our flight to Ahmedabad but it may do so for our next flight tomorrow to Patna (East India), we will have to watch this carefully and may be forced to sit it out on the ground while the cyclone dissipates.... click here to read more

May 13 - Djibouti to Oman - 12 hours 54 min flying, 1230nm
This was to be a flight of about ten hours. However it became the longest so far with a trip time of over 12 hours. The routing from Djibouti brought our aircraft "The Bremen Spirit" about 90 miles off the Yemeni coastline to enter Oman airspace at waypoint Boski, and then direct to Muscat. The day began with Paul not feeling very well but elected to fly anyway. Alan would do most of the flying on this leg. Departure from Ambouli (Djibouti) airport was made easy in the 29C heat by very efficient handling staff... click here to read more

May 12 - Djibouti
An early start to the day, we arrived at the airport at 5am. After going through numerous security checks we arrived at the departure door with the aircraft in site. Then we got the bill for handling which shocked us both, $600 and this was after negotiating and refusing to pay the full amount. After settling up with the Handling Agent we got ready for start up for Djibouti... click here to read more

May 10 - Luxor, Egypt to Djibouti - 10 hours 10 min flying, 1156nm
An early start to the day, we arrived at the airport at 5am. After going through numerous security checks we arrived at the departure door with the aircraft in site. Then we got the bill for handling which shocked us both, $600 and this was after negotiating and refusing to pay the full amount. After settling up with the Handling Agent we got ready for start up for Djibouti... click here to read more

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May 8 - Iraklion, Crete to Luxor, Egypt - 5 hours min flying
Departure was on the westerly facing runway with a right 180 degree turn to fly coastal offshore until we had reached a safe level to cross over the high mountainous terrain on the island. We then took up a south easterly heading that we would remain on till El Alamain. Radio communication over the south Mediterranean Sea is very poor and at 9000 feet we had to rely on overflying aircraft at higher levels to make contact with Cairo Control. Our first sighting of Egypt meant we had finally left Europe behind us.
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May 6 - Italy to Greece - 8 hours 10 min flying
Treviso Airport in Italy where we were due to depart from for Crete had no AVGAS fuel for our aircraft. There was talk of getting fuel from the local Aero Club but we decided to fly to Pescara (East Italy) and refuel there. After a hot hour and half flight we landed in Pescara Airport, an amazing airport by the sea with mountains behind rising to 11,000 feet. With only one runway and mountains behind it meant that no matter what direction the wind was you had to fly the approach from the sea to runway 22 and if you needed to land on runway 04 you broke off the approach to carry out a circulating visual circuit to runway 04. After a 2 hour delay waiting for fuel in the sweltering heat we took off for Crete. Our delay meant we did not arrive into Crete until 10pm local time. It was dark so we had our first night landing coming in over the sea to touch down on runway 27. Tomorrow is a rest day, on the 8th we fly to Luxor in Egypt.

May 4 - France to Italy - 4 hours 48 min flying
We awoke to a glorious sunny morning in Bordeaux, ready for a 5 hour flight to Treviso in Italy. The flight went very well departing Bordeaux and flying along the South Coast of France with clear blue skies. From 10,000 feet we had an excellent view of the French coast. Canne stood out especially well with the mountains rising behind the town. Soon after we were handed over Italian Air Traffic control, they vectored us to Treviso where we made an ILS landing (Instrument Landing System) on runway 07. Tomorrow is a day of rest for us both and we need it - a day to be spent in Venice.

May 3 - Scotland to France - 8 hours 10 min flying
Another dull morning in Wick, looking like we might not be able to fly out of Scotland. We arrived ready to go at the airport and after checking the weather it looked like it would be ok to go - we departed 8.20am and after a pleasant though long 8 hour flight we arrived in sunny Bordeaux with 20 degrees (a nice change from Wick).

May 2
A cold dark morning in Wick, Scotland. Due to weather we can't get airborne today for Bordeaux. Looking forward to warm France tomorrow, we are expecting to leave 8am and arrive Bordeaux 2.30pm - 6.30 hrs flying

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May 1
We spent the day at Wick Airport, working with Andrew Bruce on the aircraft to get it ready for the round the world flight. Critical to the safety of the flight is our maximum take off weight and how we load the aircraft. We spent much of the day going over performance data and weight and balance charts
click here for more details on our day in Wick, Scotland
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April 30 - Ireland to Scotland - 3 hours 7 min flying
Due to rather harsh looking weather we had to decide to make an early departure. We departed Shannon a day early and after a brief stop at Kilrush airfield in Kildare, where we had some light maintenance we proceeded onwards to Wick in Scotland. Thanks to Tony Derham and Dave Sartori for checking over the PH-SMD...
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April 28
Hectic days with the final preparations for our departure on Thursday, May 1st. Our last Visa was issued today for Thailand. We are keeping an eye on the weather to make sure we leave Ireland on time for France. This morning we were interviewed live on TV3 Ireland AM morning show.
March 10
After prolonged negotiations agreement was final reached to purchase the Piper Cherokee Six, PH-SMD. The aircraft is being prepared for export from the Netherlands at Seppe, south of Amsterdam by
Mastenbroek Aeroskill maintenance checks at Seppe Airfield, Holland (ICAO code EHSE). The work is carried out by The next step which we looking forward to is picking up the aircraft in a couple of weeks and ferrying it back to Ireland. It will be nice to be back flying again.
February 26
Plans are moving ahead nicely with most of our visas figured out. We are still waiting on a few countries to advise us if we need a visa before arrival. The work in just securing the permissions to enter the countries on route and then permissions to overfly countries plus figuring out customs is very time consuming. So far we are both flying a desk rather than flying the plane...
February 19
Day began with a 10 minute radio interview with Phil Sheldon on Adelaide's 5AA. Phil is 5AA's resident health and fitness expert. An invitation was extended by Phil for a studio interview during our visit to Adelaide in June. Looking forward to it. Arrangements are in place to apply for overflight clearances. Normally these are sought a few weeks before departure but with the volatile political situation in the Middle East we are bringing the application process forward. Many thanks to Jerry Roche, SRS Aviation, Shannon for agreeing to handle much of this work... Paul

February 9
"I have been bought on-board WF2003 as an adviser to Paul and Alan, helping them in all areas of flight planning, navigation and acting as standby pilot. In short I will be doing all the work while these guys relax. I have been busy preparing for the trip spending 30 hours in the simulator last week. Next week is the survival training, not looking forward to that so much as the water plays havoc with my fur."- Harvey

January 25-27
Traveled to Teuge, Netherlands accompanied by Mick Bevan (engineer). The purpose of the visit was to inspect a Piper Cherokee Six aircraft for possible purchase from Peter De Graff. click here for more details

Drawing by Mick Bevan