Mission 353 - Roma to Archerfield


On Monday the 23rd of May 2005 I flew Mission 353, making it my 10th Angel Flight.

The mission description from Angel Flight was:

Sarah Dern was diagnosed in November 2003, after a bout of triple pneumonia, to have a rare immune system disorder resulting in recurring infections which lead to long recovery times for wounds and illnesses.

Both mum, Laurel and Sarah had been undertaking a ten hour return road journey to attend the Hospital for investigative analysis and treatment.

This trip is for follow up tests.

At only 3 years of age this already was Sarah's third trip with Angel Flight.

Outbound leg - Archerfield to Roma

Having invested a lot of effort, time and money in an instrument rating, I was none too pleaed to notice that the weather forceast contained the following complicated statement for anticipated cloud:
Getting to the airport at 8 o'clock, my Mk I eyeballs confirmed that indeed flying conditions were CAVOK (Cloud and Visibility OK), with not a cloud to be seen on the horizon.

In the warm autumn sun, I did the usual pre-flight inspection, and fired up the engine to taxy out to runway 28R, for a Westerly departure at 8:35.

There being no wind, the day still reasonably cool, there was neither convective nor any mechanical turbulence to be had. So I was soon crusing at 8,000' on my way to Roma. Executing the two hard turns along the route (from a heading of 282 out of Archerfield onto 267 to Oakey and then 278 onto Roma), had me occupied for about 2 minutes of the 90 minute flight.

I arrived at Roma and shut down outside the air terminal just after 10:15. Sarah and her mum Laurel were already waiting for me.

Inbound leg - Roma to Archerfield

Upon my queries as to her age, initially answered by her mum as "Almost four now", we were informed in no uncertain terms, that she was "Three and a HALF, mumma!"

There being only one bag (very lightly loaded) to be stored in the baggage compartment, I had enough time to suitably admire the "Nemo" runners that Sarah had obviously only recently acquired. Between this and discussing the various bottles that would sustain her during the long flight to Brisbane (one bottle of chocolate milk and one of apple juice), we still managed to squeeze in a passenger briefing, before climbing on board and taking our seats.

Sarah was a little worried, not having enjoyed the previous take-offs. But on this occasion, she was alert and looking out the window as Roma passed under the plane in a sweeping left turn after take off at 10:35.

While intitially chatting and entertaining us, she eventually fell asleep and dozed away with the headsets on.

Having gone to greate trouble to arrange for this beautiful flying weather, I am happy to report that we encountered scarcely a bump as we cruised toward Brisbane at 7,000'.

Laurel enjoyed the view as we crossed over Oakey again, with another heading change, passed Toowoomba on our right and started out gradual descent for Archerfield through the Amberly control zone.

We landed at 12:12, but then had to spend another 10 minutes taxying, as the duty runway was 28L which meant that we had to take a long hike back.

Sarah, having been woken by her mum, was eagerly sizing up the various aircraft that we passed. On seeing a Trojan T28 warbird in polished aluminium, she displayed her true colours and declared, much to my dismay, that that was the most beautiful aircraft she had ever seen. No mention was made of FWL.

Having arrived early, but a little later than I had advised Pat McElligott, our Earth Angel for this mission, he had gone off looking for us elsewhere. So while we waited for him to turn up (all of 2 minutes later), Sarah was dashing from one end of the terminal building to the other, as she followed the progress of other aircraft outside.

Finally, just before leaving in the care of Pat, Sarah did redeem herself by saying that FWL was a "very beautiful" aeroplane.

In my opinion that made two beauties in the one day, one made in America in 1968, and, more importantly, the other bravely and with great spirit, heading off for another round of medical tests.