Mission 226 - Toowoomba to Mungindi


On Wednesday the 24th of November 2004 I flew Mission 226, making it my 6th Angel Flight.

The mission description from Angel Flight was:

Rosalie (Rosie) is just twenty-two and a mother of three children; Destiny (three years), Henry (nineteen months) and Savannah (three months).

Rosalie has breast cancer with a secondary spread to her liver and ribs. Her partner is a seasonal worker and is currently unemployed. Closest relatives are 400km away.

This courageous woman underwent surgery for the cancer very soon after the birth of Savannah. Her first chemotherapy occurred August 24, promoting acute nausea during a four hour return trip by road.

Rosie will undergo scans and another round of chemotherapy. Her partner, Peter Nielsen, will accompany her on these flights.

The day before Trevor Steele had flown Rosie and Peter to Toowoomba for treatment at Toowoomba hospital.

Since my plane is based at Archerfield, I first had to do the flight in three stages:

Stage 1: Archerfield to Toowoomba

Despite the short distance, due to the mountains just west of Brisbane, I had to cruise at 5,000 feet. I arrived at Toowoomba at 12:15, to find my passengers already waiting for the scheduled 1:00 departure.

Much as I would have liked to simply pile them on board and get going, we had to spend the customary half hour waiting for the engine to cool down. I used this time to pack the remarkably few items in the luggage compartment.

Stage 2: Toowoomba to Mungindi

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture After a quick passenger briefing both Rosie and Peter took their seats in the back. Take-off was achieved right on time at 1:00pm.

Soon we were cruising at 10,000 feet above a scattered layer of cumulus cloud, having experienced just a little chop on the way up.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Before you knew it, Rosie was asleep.

Peter, however, was wide awake and made a mockery of all the navigational aids that, over the years, I have purchased and maintained at great expense;

Every 4 or 5 minutes there would be some shout like "That's Boomi, isn't it?". Being on an IFR flight plan, with only radio beacons to refer to, I then would have to scrabble around for a World Aeronautical Chart, figure out where on the flight path we might be, cross reference that with the GPS, scratch my head and then admit, that, yes, we were indeed exactly where the back-seat-driver had placed us.

Before too long it was time to descend. Rosie only woke up a few minutes before landing. We taxied to the extensive Mungindi International (The flight originated in Queensland and Mungindi is in New South Wales) Air Terminal:

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Rosie's children, in the care of Peter's sister during the trip, were only too happy for Peter and Rosie to be home. After a quick cuddle with the kids and doing the obligatory happy snap with me, Rosie got into the back of the car. None the worse for the prop-lag (we had crossed into another time-zone) they were heading home.

Stage 3: Mungindi to Archerfield

While waiting the traditional 30 minutes for the engine to cool down, I checked the oil, tidied away the head sets and considered the isolation of the airfield:

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture The flight home at 9,000 feet was smooth, with about a quarter of it spent in and out of a layer of cumulus cloud, before descending into Archerfield and landing at 4:30.


I was back on the ground in Archerfield after having