Mission 224 - Chinchilla to Archerfield


On Wednesday the 8th of December 2004 I flew Mission 224, making it my 7th Angel Flight.

The mission description from Angel Flight was:

With a condition of kidney disease and a failed kidney transplant, 14 year old Kayla is on home dialysis for 13 hours per day and needs regular medical treatment at the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

This appointment is for Kayla's regular blood tests and kidney assessment.

The Mission had been assigned to another pilot, Stephen White, who due to the forecast bad weather and lack of Instrument Rating, had to renege on his offer to do the flight. I was called on Wednesday morning to see whether I could jump into the fray. Giving it the usual half a minute's consideration I readily agreed.

Outbound - Archerfield to Chinchilla

As it turned out Stephen's and my paths had almost crossed before. He had flown the inbound trip in Mission 77, bringing Violet into Toowoomba, while I took her home on the next day.

Stephen had also on a previous occasion flown Kayla to Archerfield. Not wanting to miss out on the action, he called me and asked whether he could come along. Seeing that there would be no problem weight-wise, I was only too happy to accommodate him.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture So at 07:15 Stephens Toyota Chariot was at my doorstep and took me to Archerfield. The pre-flight of the aircraft, with 2 pilots present, was a very quick affair, Stephen doing all the odd jobs like untying the plane, stowing the bags and folding the plane's cover, while I tried to figure out where the head-set plugs should go.

We got airborne just after 08:00, being the first aircraft to be cleared by the tower that morning, to discover, that, while there were plenty of clouds about, the situation was not nearly as dire as the weather man had predicted.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture To make matters worse, from Stephen's perspective (having surrendered the mission), the situation only kept on improving. Soon we were comparing our WACs (World Aeronautical Chart - 1:1,000,000 scale) with ground features clearly visible below the diminishing clouds to figure out where we might be.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Before too long we descended into Chinchilla where Kayla, her Mum Amanda and various other rellies formed the welcome committee for us.

Inbound - Chinchilla to Archerfield

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Not having any luggage to load - they would be taken back to Chinchilla that same afternoon by Angel Flight pilot Nev Donald - we all waited patiently for the engine to cool down, before climbing on-board for the one hour flight to Archerfield.

We got airborne at 09:44 and climbed to our cruising altitude of 7,000'.

Kalya was disappointed, that, despite whisking through some clouds none of the 'lumpy' bits, which in her opinion give flying all its thrill, materialised - it was just smooth.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture Neither Kayla, nor Amanda were keen to wear head-sets, preferring to read a book or merely look out the window. The book that Kalya was reading was a Christmas gift from Stephen, who, having established her taste in literature on his previous Mission, was on a sure winner here.

With the girls otherwise occupied and not listening in, Stephen and I were left to gas-bag and trade tall stories about our flying exploits.

As we approached Archerfield the weather kept on getting a little worse, even requiring the autopilot to safely negotiate the inside of a few clouds. Being an established, stagnant weather system, there was little, if any, turbulence in it.

Click for hi-res (1.32 MB) picture We were back on the ground at Archerfield at 10:42, and, after a short taxy, were met by Earth Angel Mark Ratcliff, who whisked Kalya and her mum off to hospital.

No sooner had they departed that a heavy rain shower caught Stephen and I while we were still securing the aircraft. But neither of us minded, being happy to have made Kalya's trip to town a lot easier and shorter than it would have been but for Angel Flight.

We both enjoyed her spirit, as evidenced by the slogan on her T-Shirt: "All Dressed up and no place to go".

Well, she went somewhere today - Chinchilla to Brisbane and back.


We were back on the ground in Archerfield after having

Post Script

Kalya's return to Chinchilla was subject to a similar switch of pilot as the trip to Archerfield.

Nev Donald, like Stephen, lacked the requisite Instrument Rating, and John Raby (see Mission 194) acted as substitute pilot (closely supervised by Donald, riding shotgun), safely conveying Kalya and Amanda back to Chinchilla.

Doubtlessly, they too traded tall stories of their flying exploits on the way home.