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Leg 21: Roratonga to Honolulu

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And now for something completely different..... :mrhappy:

Well, this is a new departure (sorry) for me. I hope you all bear with me on this 'leg' from the island of Roratonga (New Zealand) to the port of Honolulu, which, of course, is in the 50th State of the U.S.A. (or is that Alaska?). Coming from Pembrokeshire, I have a soft spot for Short aircraft as the Sunderlands were based in Milford Haven during WWII. The Empress has a similar specification to the Sunderland, with a range of about 1750 nm and a cruising speed of around 180 knots. The Roratonga to Honolulu leg length is just under 2500 nm so it can't be done in one flight. In addition, the potential mid-way stopping point point of Jarvis Island does not have an airfield and therefore is unsuitable for re-fuelling. Lastly, the Empress instruments limit navigation to VFR plus compass, so the leg has to flown in day-light, over three days as follows:

Day 1: Roratonga (NCRG) to Penrhyn Island (750 nm - 5 hrs duration + re-fuelling);

Day 2: Penrhyn Island (NCPY) to Palmyra Island via Jarvis Island (total 975 nm - 7 hrs duration + re-fuelling);

Day 3: Palmyra Island (PLPA) to Honolulu Intl (PHNL) (500 nm - 4 hrs duration).

Here's the route:


I'm just having a quiet relax in the jeep (couldn't take my Land-Rover!) down by the beach, waiting for the baton to arrive. Almost had the bl**dy thing clamped by the lifeguard, but I gave him Martyn's name and he was well impressed!


I shall update this post with the flight details - hopefully, the trans-Pacific cable is connected to the intermediate islands.....

Cheers - David

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Certainly looking forward to the shots!

My faimly comes from Pembrokeshire, I spend quite a lot of time in a place called Hayscastle Cross, between Haverfordwest and Fishguard. Have you heard of it?

I also do plenty of diving in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire is where I feel most at home, its an amazingly beautiful place :-)

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Rarotonga to Honolulu - Day 1:

O.K. lads, rise and shine - it's 7 am and we've completed pre-flight checks:


It's a lovely morning - sea's calm with a slight north-easterly breeze to blow the cobwebs away and off we go....


Before we leave Rarotonga, here's a bit of travelogue for you:

Wikepedia: Rarotonga is the most populous island in a group of islands known as the Cook Islands, with about 9,500 residents. Cook Islands' Parliament buildings, as well as the international airport, are located there. It is also a very popular tourist destination with many resorts, hotels and motels.

And here's the weather from http://www.oyster.net.ck/weather/:

Weather Bulletin issued from NWFC Nadi Apr 23/1522 UTC 2007 UTC.

Situation: A weak convergence zone with associated cloud and showers remains slow moving over the Northern Cooks.

A trough of low pressure lies slow moving near the Southern Cooks.

Meanwhile a slow moving front lies to the south of the group.

Associated cloud and showers affects the Southern Cooks.

Forecast to midnight tonight for the Southern Cooks: Moderate to fresh north to northeast winds.

Cloudy with occasional showers and a few thunderstorms.

Moderate seas.

We'll just change course to 0 degrees for Penrhyn Island:


Settle back, and enjoy the flight. We'll be cruising around 8000'......

This is your captain speaking, we have Penrhyn Island ahead on the port bow....


Sea's still nice and calm - taking her down easy.....


Well done, number two....


And here comes the fuel for tomorrow:


Hope you enjoy the barbie on the beach - don't drink too much rice wine - see you in the morning for the next stage to Palmyra Island via Jarvis Island, where we'll celebrate crossing the line

Cheers - David <img src='http://forum.mutleyshangar.com/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/icon_cool.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':mrhappy:' />

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Great set of shots!

Looked like a lovely day, Dai glad you made it away before the thunderstorms :mrhappy:

She sure is a beautiful aircraft too and I am looking forward to the barbie on the beach.


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Outstanding, David. I especially like the morning shot with the looonnnnggg shadows.


Beautiful aircraft. Very nice flight and photo log.


Did I understand correctly that you do not use GPS? Neither did Amelia, but she didn't have floats.



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Day 2: Penrhyn Island to Palmyra Island via Jarvis Island

Well, I hope you enjoyed yourselves last night - and that your bivouac wasn't too uncomfortable on the sand....

We're starting early to cover the 900-odd nautical miles from Penrhyn Island to Palmyra Island - we'll be crossing the line at Jarvis Island in about 4 hours, so sit back and relax. Sharon will be round with some coffee after take-off.

Taxi to take off, number one...


Just look at that clear lagoon down there....


Bring her round to zero degrees, number one...


Sharon's ready with the coffee, gentlemen....


You'll be interested to know that:

Wikepedia - Penrhyn Island (also called Tongareva or Mangarongaro) is the most remote and largest atoll of the 15 Cook Islands in the south Pacific Ocean, 1365 km (848 miles) north-north-east of Rarotonga, 9 degrees below the equator. It sits atop the highest submarine volcano in the Cooks, 4876 m (15,917 ft) above the ocean floor. It comprises a ring of coral 77 km (48 miles) around. The lagoon covers 233 square kilometres (90 mile²) of which 62 square kilometres (24 mile²) is covered with pearlshell.[1][2]

Penrhyn's original name is Tongareva. Academic research published by the Cook Islands Library and Museum says this is variously translated as "Tonga floating in space", "Tonga-in-the-skies" and "A way from the South". However, the most commonly-used name in English is Penrhyn after the "Lady Penrhyn" commanded by Captain William Cropton Lever who landed on August 8 1788. Another European name was Bennett Island.[3]. The Lady Penrhyn was one of a fleet of 11 ships which sailed from the Isle of Wight (off the South coast of the UK) to found the earliest convict colony in Australia.

Jarvis Island confirmed, number one


Hey, we're crossing the line - hands up if it's your first time :mrhappy:

And here's some info about it:

Wikepedia - Jarvis Island (formerly also known as Bunker Island) is an uninhabited 4.5 square kilometer coral island located in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to the Cook Islands. It is one of the Line Islands, in the central part of the group. It is an unincorporated territory of the United States, administered from Washington, D.C. by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system.

There are no ports or harbors, but there are offshore anchorage spots. There is one boat landing area in the middle of the west coast and another near the southwest corner of the island. A day beacon is near the middle of the west coast.

The island was discovered on August 21, 1821 by the British ship Eliza Francis, (or Eliza Frances, owned by Edward, Thomas, and William Jarvis[5][6] and named by her commander, one Captain Brown. The uninhabited island was claimed for the United States under the Guano Islands Act in March 1857 and formally annexed by the U.S. on 27 February 1858. The guano was to be sent back to the United States for use as fertilizer. For the next twenty one years Jarvis Island was mined continuously for guano. American business interests abandoned the island in 1879 after tons of guano had been removed.

We change course here - just a fraction to the west - for Palmyra.


Now then, is that a cold front coming up?


Take us down to below the cloud level, number one


Palmyra Island - ahead, port bow, sir...


Check the passengers, number one, we're in for a bumpy time...


Coming around to touch down in Palmyra's lagoon:


Much less turbulence down here...


... and touch down .....


Please disembark carefully, gentlemen - and enjoy your time ashore. See you tomorrow. Take care of the re-fuelling, number one - I,ll see you later.


We have one more,

Short leg to Honolulu tomorrow - see you then

Cheers - David

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*** News Flash ***

I have had a communique from Dai saying that both "Number One" AND Sharon have gone missing :mrhappy:

But he goes on to say that they were both last seen skinny dipping together in the lagoon and believes they have gone on an unofficial days leave. lovethem.gif

So Dai has had to delay the final sector until tomorrow.

He send his apologies to members and particular to dgor and asks him to hang on in there in the paradise of Honolulu, (Tough job!).

*** Communique Ends ***

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Fantastic shots once again David :cool:
O Yes, O Yes, O Yes!!
I'd be happy with just the one :shock: :rofl


Can't the Irish handle more than 1 :mrhappy:

:cool::thumbup: There's an urge to start making rude comments but I'd better not :wink: :wink:

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Fantastic shots once again David :cool:
O Yes, O Yes, O Yes!!
I'd be happy with just the one :shock: :rofl


Can't the Irish handle more than 1 :mrhappy:

:cool::thumbup: There's an urge to start making rude comments but I'd better not :wink: :wink:

I somewhat think theres more English on this forum... :cool:

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Day 4: Palmyra Island to Honolul

Good morning, gentlemen - and Sharon - this is your captain, welcoming you back on-board for the final part of our trip to Honolulu. You will be pleased to know that the missing baton has been found. First lieutenant Adams, spent yesterday combing the island and, after a lot of research, found the baton in O'Reilly's bar - well done number one.

So, sit back and enjoy the flight.

Taxi to take off, number one.....


200 feet, sir....


Say goodbye to paradise....


And here's the travelogue:


Palmyra was first sighted in 1798 by an American sea captain, Edmund Fanning of Stonington, Connecticut, while his ship the Betsy was in transit to Asia, but it was only later—on November 7, 1802—that the first western people landed on the uninhabited atoll. On that date, Captain Sawle of the U.S. ship Palmyra was wrecked on the atoll.

Many believe the atoll's discovery by Fanning to have included a paranormal occurrence, which lends to the island's mysticism. Fanning's ship was under the command of the first mate at night while Fanning slept. Fanning awoke three times in the middle of the night, each time awaking out of bed. The third time, Fanning took it as a premonition and ordered the first mate to heave to. In the morning the ship resumed its travel, but only went a mile before reaching the reef of Palmyra. Had the ship continued its course at night, the entire crew might have perished.

There is no current economic activity on the island. Many of the roads and causeways on the atoll were built during World War II. All are now unserviceable and overgrown. There is a roughly 2,200 yard (2,000 m) long, unpaved and unimproved airstrip. Various abandoned World War II-era structures are found on the island

Palmyra Atoll's location in the Pacific Ocean, where the southern and northern currents meet, means that its beaches are littered with trash and debris. Plastic mooring buoys are particularly plentiful on the beaches of Palmyra, as well as plastic bottles for soft drinks, detergents, etc.

Large parts of the Atoll are closed to any sort of public access due to the threat of uncleared World War II unexploded ordnance.

In 1962, the U.S. Department of Defense used the atoll for an instrumentation site during high altitude atomic weapon tests over Johnston Island. There was a utility staff of about ten men who managed the camps and were present during the entire period. But there was an average of about 40 people who were there to run the instrumentation and to service the technical staff. These people represented many of the large universities and labratories around the world.

Here we are cruising at around 8000':


You remember the life-guard, who almost clamped the jeep in Rarotonga? Well, he's Sharon's brother - and he has sent an old post-card his dad found when gran passed away, a few years ago. Here it is:


The message reads:

With love, from Algy and the crew. XXXX

It seems that an old Empress used to fly from Auckland to Rarotonga on a regular basis and gran would do B&B for the crew. Sharon's dad is now maintenance manager at Rarotonga Air - and they've put the picture up on their website, here;


Small world, eh? Anyway, back to the flight....

Hawaii on starboard bow, sir...


And here are some views of Honolulu:




Take here in by the reef runway, number one...


Hope that was O.K., sir....


Before you go, gentlemen, I'd like yo thank you for flying with us. I hope your extra day in Palmyra didn't bother you too much - and I wish you well for your continuing journey..... goodbye

Here's the launch, don't forget the baton:


Well, that's it! Thanks for following it all - I enjoyed it....

Thanks to photobucket, Wikepedia and Air Rarotonga.

Cheers - David :mrhappy:

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ok.gif A great finish to a great post Dai.

I like the link to Air Rarotonga, this must be life imitating art or is it the otherway around. :mrhappy:

Great shots and a great story, a nice refreshing break! I hope you enjoyed flying this leg.


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