Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Farewell to Betty and a summary of flight distance and hours


Farewell to Betty and a summary of flight distance and hours



Anne and John Herbert kindly sent this screen shot of our total tour over the last 4 weeks and Flippie calculated our flying hours including the Trans-Atlantic:

Bristol - via Iceland and Greenland - Toronto = 32.2 hours = 4830 NMs
Toronto -Bahamas = 19 hours = 2850 NMs
Bahamas - via Cuba to Panama - Carson city, USA = 38 hours = 5700 NMs

Total flying time: 89.2 hours
Total distance covered: 13,380 hours

 As you can see, we have covered more the half around the world in the good old sturdy Beech!

She has truly performed ever so well and hardly used any oil.


It’s been sad to say good-bye to her.

Keys were handed over to Steve as he will look after her during the next two months.

With a delicious home-cooked breakfast by Marilee and Phyllis, we left for Reno to check into an airport hotel ready for an very early 4am start tomorrow.


Once more thanks to our two great pilots John Herbert and Flippie Vermeulen for flying us safely around those incredible countries and places....






.... and to all you wonderful new friends and people that we met along the route!







You have been so kind and wonderful and we hope to stay in touch!

The first flight in Cuba!
There will always be a Gin and Tonic at our place in Kensington Villas! Come and visit us!


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Our last flight in Betty the Beech! Grand Canyon via Las Vegas and Death Valley to Carson city!


Our last flight in Betty the Beech



Grand Canyon via Las Vegas and Death Valley to Carson city!


With the threat of 40kt gusting 60kt and already many of the local sightseeing planes being grounded, we rush back to the airport. Flippie is in touch with his good friend Steve Hamilton in Carson city and the two aviators decide that it should be possible for us to safely get across to Nevada.

After take off it’s a final stunning flight across the massive Grand Canyon! It is sooo immense and breath-taking!
can you spot the bridge and dam?
After an hour we approach the Hoover dam at Lake Mead. It’s one of the biggest dams in the world and one of the oldest constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression.
flying straight over Las Vegas international airport in the Beech
ATC then advises a routing straight over Las Vegas International! 

Fabulous views of big jets coming into land right below us whilst others zoom across at high altitude.


It’s unbelievable how many golf courses there are! Seems like every house has one…

Then we head for the mountains and the terrain gets rough and winds challenging.

 There are some severe bumps and I need to hold onto my seat – and certainly strap myself firmly in. Our speed drops to even less what you see here, right down to 71 miles per hour!

We climb to a record altitude of 13,500ft! It’s cold, it’s shaky and I get to my limits again…


Heading further out towards the North-West we now approach the desert of Death Valley. The wind certainly is blowing as we are surrounded by massive sand storms. Luckily we are so high, they don’t reach us.

The turbulence continues and I am struggling to keep upright.


Phil points out Mono Lake. Now that is a story of the Dunningtons: It goes back to our honeymoon in 2004 when we drove from Denver, Colorado via Santa Fe, route 66 and Death Valley to San Francisco. We had a small hot air balloon in the back of our hired vehicle and I wasn’t a pilot yet.

After 40 degrees heat in Death Valley we drive up to Mono Lake which was a white winter wonderland. It is lunch time, sunny and flat calm. Phil decides it’s so beautiful he would risk a balloon flight.

The two of us set the balloon up and Phil flies off. Into unknown territory. And I am left with a car, but no maps, no radio and no phone signal. The balloon quickly disappears behind a volcanic mountain and I have no idea on how to find him. Trying to drive down a little side track, the car gets bogged into the deep snow. I have to run 2 miles to the balloon.

With winds now being too strong we have to deflate and what follows is a 3 hours carry out through deep snow! It is – it was nearly divorce!!!
Anyway, this time it was not. In fact my mind goes back to the incredible experiences we had and the many wonderful people that we met. Despite the ups and downs I would not want to miss a single day!
flying into a snow storm
We are by now surrounded by high mountains and flying through a snow storm. But the final destination is in sight: Carson city!


At shortly before 1pm we touch down. Betty screams as she always does when the ground is near. Is it joy – is it sadness? I am filled with emotions. I am so relieved to be safely down but I shall miss this good old bird! She has taken us safely over high mountains, vast oceans, dense jungle, through snow- and sand storms, poor visibility, freezing cold and heat.
the welcome committee!

She is 66, but she still goes strong and performed brilliantly!

Then Flippie turns the engines off as we park up in front of her new home for the next months. Steve and Marilee Hamilton – good friends of Flippie and Vlooi – and their friends Phyllis and Rick, greet us and help to push the Beech into the hangar.

Sadly it’s all a bit of a sudden rush and no time for a final sunny picture in front of Betty. So once we offload everything, it’s time for a farewell photo.
from left: Steve, Rick, Phyllis, Flippie, Marilee, Phil

Phil, Allie, Flippie
The rest of the afternoon is spent at Steve and Marilee’s wonderful house and down at THE ‘bar’!!! Steve’s passion are vintage cars and he has painstakingly restored all of them himself. It’s a walk through history followed by gin tonics, whisky and a delicious salmon dinner.
The 'boys' at the bar


Thank you so much for having us here!!!

Steve at the controls!
Well, that’s the story for now. I will feel relieved not having the pressure of writing and sorting hundreds of photos each day anymore, but I will also miss being ‘On the Beech’ very much!
Betty the Beech in her new home!

Let’s see what the future brings and please keep checking the blog as there will for sure be more on it. We still have to calculate the total flying hours, miles spent in the air, sort videos and photos and will keep you posted on what’s going to happen next.

And don’t forget if you would like to get in touch with Flippie and Vlooi Vermeulen – or even better – join one of their outstanding African flight safaris, see their website here: http://www.springbokclassicair.co.za/page.php?4

And if you are interested in anything ballooning or further interest in the Beech 18 G-BKGM then find us through our website here: www.gonewiththewind.uk.com

And let’s not forget John and Anne Herbert who help out with charity work in Africa and who flew us safely across the Atlantic: https://www.mercyair.org

Thank you so much for following us!

PS: we will be flying back up to Toronto via Dallas on the 19th and then overnight to London. Back finally in Bristol on the 20th.