Aviation history in the re-making
Tuesday, 22nd March, 2011
Two pilots are about to follow in the footsteps of pioneering aviators and, at the same time, raise money for the Flying Doctor.
Early next month Jeremy Rowsell and Jim Hazelton will attempt to fly around the world and emulate the feats of aviators such as Amelia Earhart, Nancy Bird-Walton, Charles William Anderson Scott and Charles Kingsford-Smith.
The intrepid pair were expected to touch down at the RFDS base in Broken Hill today, but due to rain the trip was postponed for a week.
Kingsford-Smith was the first man to fly from America to Australia and later set the record for a Sydney to London trip before disappearing off the coast of Burma in 1935.
On the first leg of their journey, Mr Rowsell and Mr Hazelton will be attempting to emulate Kingsford-Smith's 1928 trans-Pacific trip in a single-engine Beechcraft 36.
"For a pilot this is the ultimate challenge, the aeronautical equivalent of climbing (Mount) Everest," Mr Rowsell said.
"Only a select few have ever done it and we intend to join that club."
While re-creating aviation history has long been his dream, he is also aiming to raise money to help the Royal Flying Doctor Service buy seven flight data recorders.
"It's aviation history in the re-making."
This trip will require a lot of effort, even by the standards of the RFDS.
Every year there are many worthy fund-raising efforts in support of the Flying Doctor, said Jane Austin, RFDS South Eastern Section General Manager of Marketing and Public Relations, said.
"But this is a little bit different," she said.
Jeremy and Jim will face many dangers. Flying at 7,500 feet they will be in full contact with the elements as they cross thousands of miles of lonely ocean, encountering violent and unpredictable weather. They will also constantly have their eyes on the fuel gauge.
"Basically, we're flying a fuel tank stuck to a life raft, which will need re-filling at regular intervals," Mr Rowsell said.
Their flight begins on Thursday, April 7, when they take off from Oakland International Airport in California. Depending on the weather they will reach Sydney's Kingsford-Smith airport on either April 12, 13 or 14, where the first leg of the journey will end.