Last night Richard confirmed he needed another day to complete servicing/preparing the aircraft for our long flight. We had a funny evening, being interviewed by a journalist who spoke virtually no English, so with an interpreter. Richard, Jon and I in the dining room, with the two others sitting with us. Myself feeling very tired, sitting in smart clean Seeing Is Believing branded T-shirt, but swimming shorts and barefoot beneath table!Waiter repeatedly taking my hand, showing me what glass holds my water, and other for beer; wishing I could just drink the beer unfettered!
Journalist asking Richard via interpreter my date and time of birth- year or basic age not sufficient- Richard pointing at me, saying, “ask him- you can ask him- he can speak”; journalist staring at me, wondering if true- me saying new skill recently developed, after learning how to fly… Jon drinking his beer contentedly, appearing oblivious to repeat of scenario seen so often before!
Richard now passionate, passionate advocate for blind children of the world, quoting figures with conviction; journalist writing, nodding head, then picking up non-digital SLR huge 35mm camera, taking flash pictures of me doing strange things, like sucking my finger after topping up my beer glass from bottle, finger in glass to register when full; another classic shot of me, mouth open, blinking, as about to yawn expansively with exhaustion- surely he will not print these?! Waiter returns, takes my hand, places it around glass of water, explaining quite loudly “this is your glass of water”. I hold it up in surprise, examining it with both hands, delicately exploring it’s stem and shape before carefully sniffing then sipping the water, then nodding contentedly and thanking him; he strides away importantly, with me quickly gulping down some more beer before he returns again. Another flash picture of me, hand over eyes, rubbing face with tiredness; Richard explaining hand over face not a problem, as I’m blind anyway.Dinner followed later, with journalist declining to eat with us.
Around 0900 hours we all headed out to the airport, after me stripping every ounce of extra weight from my guidance kit/external container etc; Richard adamant only essential weight for long ocean flight to Australia tomorrow. Spent some time in the old converted badminton court where microlight housed by airport boundary, Richard showing me extra fuel tanks and their operation.Left Richard completing flight clearance documentation, took Jon to airport to get his flight to Darwin, weighed down with all our spare kit from the microlight.
; Bit strange shaking his hand and saying cheerio, both of us being somewhat over-casual about parting, yet realising faint chance we would never meet again if things go wrong tomorrow; leaves me quiet and reflective during taxi ride back to hotel.
Early afternoon Richard returns from airport with met. Forecast; not good; strong winds at low levels- slight possibility of slight tail winds over 10,000 feet; looking at likelihood of needing to head for Truscott in Western Australia if conditions bad. Not official entry for international flights, but acceptable if fuel shortages due to strong headwinds force us to divert… We estimate we are about 100 kg overweight- 25% extra nothing to sniff at, but confident microlight rated high above this.Richard phones Darwin for weather forecast for tomorrow; still strong head winds up to 7,000 feet; will try very early departure to make most of dawn lighter conditions…
Richard and I decide to relax by pool and view of rough coastline below; suddenly realise no costumes, as only clothing we stand in for flight tomorrow! Order couple of beers, spend afternoon quietly talking between pool and rocky beach, discussing Leonardo Da Vinci’s incredible insight into principles of flight. Gets hot, so I strip to underpants by deserted pool and dive in; Richard decides to decline following my example, sitting sipping beer and directing me when disorientated in big pool.Sudden arrival of hoards of school children to swim forces to make hurried exit, with Richard meeting me by poolside with big towel and my T-shirt!
Did two interviews over mobile phone with Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Melbourne and Daily Mail in Britain by pool.Great evening meal in dining room, listening to music from traditional Indonesian instrument called a Sendando, consisting of metal strings surrounding metal down-pipe size of drain pipe, with something resembling palm leaves concertinaed around back to reflect sound; sounds like a Zither, or 12-stringed guitar when strings picked individually- playing unlikely yet lovely tunes like Tennessee Waltz and Country Road- beautiful!
Into bed by around 2300 hours; nothing in room besides clothes taken off and my flight computer; very aware big, big day tomorrow- longest flight of journey in far less than ideal weather conditions.