FL25 The second half – onwards to Port Macquarie

Now that school holidays are over and the wet season is coming to an end up north, it’s time to take-off again for Wing Threads: Flight Around Oz!

My first stop from Lake Macquarie was Port Macquarie just north of Taree. I planned to take-off on 19th March and was all set to go but when I arrived at the airport, the fog settled in! It was a complete white-out, which meant I was grounded for another week before the weather was set to come good again.

With school visits lined up, I decided to drive up to Port Macquarie to do those during the week and take-off a week later. Peter and Sue West from Hasting Birdwatchers kindly offered me a place to stay at their house too.

While in Port Macquarie, I visited The Nature School, St Columba Anglican School, Frank Partridge VC and Stuarts Point Public School. After my visit to the Nature School, their Principal, Catherine, invited me to go birding with her for the afternoon! She is a keen birdo herself and took me to Sea Acres to look for fruit doves. No fruit doves but a wonderful afternoon none the less.

I finally took off for Port Macquarie on the morning of 27th March. I had a narrow window of weather in between storms so I had to go on time. My flight path took me up the coast past Williamtown Airport. This was my first time flying through controlled airspace and I was a bit nervous about talking to Air Traffic Control (ATC). They cleared me to track the coast after directing me towards the airfield to allow a passenger flight to land. 

The forecast predicted a 18 knot headwind at 1000ft past Port Stephens. When I got to Broughton Island, I discovered it was actually 30 knots, which brought my ground speed down to 30 knots! It was pretty slow going and I was nervous as well. I didn’t have the option to turn back to Lake Macquarie because a storm was coming up behind me and there weren’t any airports to land at between Broughton and Taree, so onwards I went!

Flying past Shark Islands at Port Stephens

The air was smooth all the way to Port Macquarie and the wind speed dropped down to a 10knot head wind once I was further up the coast and at an altitude of 3500 feet. As I descended coming in to Port Macquarie, I discover it was still 25 knots at 1000 feet though! I was concerned about wind shear as I came in to land because it was only 5-8 knots on the ground. Plus it was cross wind.

As I came in to land, I was so focused on keeping my airspeed on to counter the wind shear, I didn’t line up the runway properly to account for the crosswind and noticed I was drifting sideways. Not good for landing on the tarmac! I decided to do a go around and on my second landing attempt, did a beautiful crosswind landing.

I was greeted on arrived by Fran and Steve Gooch, and Steve and Terry from Hastings Aeroclub. Steve Gooch is a flying instructor but he and Fran are also avid birders and I met them through the Hastings Birdwatchers. My plane was refueled on arrival before putting it away in the hangar and going to get a coffee. My lovely friend, Jill, met me shortly after to drive me back to Lake Macquarie to pick up my car. 

Steve refuelling the trike
Welcoming committee at Port Macquarie

My stay in Port Macquarie was a short one overnight as I’d already completed all the school trips. My next stop is South Grafton as I make my way up the coast.

If you missed the Port Macquarie livestream, you can watch the replay of the flight on YouTube. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the whole flight as the reception cut out not long after passing through Port Stephens.

Thanks so much for following along everyone and I look forward to sharing more again next year 🤗

Milly Formby
Milly Formby is a zoologist, pilot, and illustrator of the children’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure She is currently flying her microlight around Australia in 2022/23 to share,A Shorebird Flying Adventure with primary students.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Available Now

Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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