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Tuesday, September 10, 2013: Day 17 - Bundaberg-Horn Island, Australia
This morning we departed Bundaberg for Horn Island; Baseops filed us at long range cruise for a flight time of 4:42 enroute based on strong headwinds. At 24,000 feet we are pushing a 45 knot headwind, and we are now passing by Rockhampton, 091013 Flying over the Great Barrier Reefwhich is the hometown of my cousin, Rod Laver, a former professional tennis player. [Rod holds the record for the most single titles won in the history of tennis with 200 career titles.] As we fly just off the coast of Northern Queensland, you can see for miles the beautiful islands of the Great Barrier Reef (photo right). Many boats are stationed at each reef obviously with divers from all over the world observing the marine life.

091013 Our ride from Horn Island to Thursday IslandWe are now 2 hours into the flight and the headwinds are finally starting to taper off, making our fuel reserve look better all the time. Finally, with just 1 hour remaining the headwinds have reduced to 25 knots.  Due to the reduction in weight from less fuel on board, I am now able to reduce the fuel burn to 64 gallons per hour, and we are still getting 280 knots true air speed. We will now be able to land at Horn Island with 75 gallons remaining, and we will also be 30 minutes ahead of my flight planned estimate at long range cruise--not bad for a 1050 nm leg pushing an average of 35 knots of headwind! This is only the second time since I left Aiken that I have transferred to the outer tanks. Group Photo

It has been 40 years since I landed in Horn Island when at that time I was a young pilot with only around 100 hours total flight time, flying to New Guinea with some mates. Horn Island sits between the northern most tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea and is an airport of entry with customs and immigration. After buying the most expensive fuel I have ever bought, we took the 20 minute ferry ride to Thursday Island (photo above left) to our hotel. (Photo above right:  Mike receives greetings from the second graders at Aiken Elementary School who are closely following his adventures.)