Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jessica Watson - Australia's 16 Year Old Solo Around The World Sailor

What more can I say that hasn’t been said in hundreds of newspaper and TV reports about the youngest person who has sailed solo around the world….Jessica Watson.

Her journey took 7 months or 210 days and she travelled over 23,000km (14,290 miles).

Leaving Sydney on Jessica's remarkable journey around the world.

Watching as she docked in Sydney at the Opera House and was greeted by her parents brought a tear to my eye to think what an achievement Jessica has brought to those who may dream, but instead do not follow their dreams. One hopes more young people be they Australian or of any other nationality look upon Jessica’s journey and take up their own challenge and go out and attempt to bring their own dream/s to fulfilment.

Part of the flotilla of craft the welcomed Jessica back home.

Listening to her speech at the Opera House it’s hard to imagine Jessica is only 16 years old as she sounds much older and wiser beyond her years.

Being greeted by Jessica's parents as she arrived in Sydney.

This is a extract taken from comments on TV.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd shook Jessica's hands, as did NSW Premier Kristina Keneally. Mr Rudd said Watson was a "hero'' admired by Australians, and "do our nation proud.” ”You have lived your dream,'' he added.

Home at last coming through the Heads entering Sydney Harbour.

Mr Rudd led the crowd in giving Jessica a hip hip hurrah. Ms Keneally said Jessica was an inspiration. "Your have inspired us. You have reminded us what is possible. You have inspired us to follow our dreams.''

Jessica told the crowd she wasn't anything special. "I'm an ordinary girl who believed in a dream...,'' she said. "You just have to have a dream, believe in it and work hard.''
Jessica urged others to follow her example by living out their dreams. "I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her dream,'' she told a large, cheering welcome-home crowd in

Waving to the the 50 odd thousand that turned up to welcome Jessica home.

"You don't have to be someone special to achieve something amazing. You've just got to have a dream, believe in it and work hard.'' Jessica said she hoped her voyage proved what could be achieved by setting your mind to it.
"Anything really is possible.''
Jessica reflected on times when, as a girl growing up and learning about sailing, she had been overlooked because of her gender.
"As a little girl ... people don't think you're capable of these things. They don't realise what young people, what 16-year-olds, and what girls are capable of. "It is amazing when you take away those expectations what you can do and what you can achieve.

Jessica Watson one spunky 16 year old girl who set out to prove her dream to sail solo around the world. She showed her "knockers" who said that it couldn't be done how wrong they were.

If one is interested you can click on this link and you will be taken to a site where you will see where Jessica has sailed and there are small boxes that when clicked on will open either a photo with comments or a small video clip that Jessica comments on where she is. You may need to wait a very small time while this opens onto the area to view where Jessica sailed.

Again if one is interested you can click on this link and you will be taken to Jessica’s blog which she posted quite often during her voyage.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Amelia Earhart - First Woman To Fly Around The World

A few months ago I went to see a movie called "Amelia”. This was a 2009 dramatized biographical film of the life of Amelia Earhart, starring Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart along with a cast that includes Richard Gere (who played George P. Putnam her to be husband), Christopher Eccleston (who played Fred Noonan, her navigator) and Ewan McGregor (who played Gene Vidal, her lover). I quite enjoyed the film and it has just come out on DVD, so I have purchased the DVD. The film received quite a lot of negative reviews, but nevertheless I recommend it.

After viewing the film again I thought I’d do a post on Amelia. My post is a condensed version of her life. Naturally there is a wealth of information on the internet. I’m also going to include a trailer from the film, and also another video clip of a newsreel about her life (this film clip only goes 1.36 minutes).

Amelia Earhart the world's most famous female aviator disappeared in 1937, as she attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. With her navigator, Fred Noonan, her Lockheed Electra, Amelia was last heard from about 100 miles from the tiny Pacific atoll, Howland Island on July 2, 1937. President Roosevelt authorized an immediate search; no trace was ever found. Over the years, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart has spawned almost as many conspiracy theories as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the Kennedy Assassination.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Kansas, the daughter of Edwin and Amy Earhart. At the age of three, she was sent to live with her grandmother.

She took her first ride in an airplane in 1920. After her flight with barnstormer Frank Hawks, she said "As soon as we left the ground, I knew I myself had to fly." Indeed, within a few days, she took her first flying lesson, in a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny. Six months later, she bought her own airplane, a yellow Kinner Airster, that she dubbed "The Canary." Amelia was not a naturally gifted pilot, but she persevered, built up her flying time, and even broke the woman's altitude record in 1922.

She became the first woman to fly across the
Atlantic on June 18-19, 1928. The flight was the brainchild of Amy Guest, a wealthy, aristocratic American expatriate living in London. Aware of the huge publicity that would accrue to the first woman to fly the Atlantic, the 55 year old Mrs. Guest had purchased a Fokker F7 trimotor from Commander Richard Byrd, to make the flight herself. Her family objected, and she relented, as long as the "right sort" of woman could make the flight. The "right sort" would take a good picture, be well-educated, and not be a publicity-seeking gold-digger. The Guest family hired George Putnam, a New York publicist who had promoted Lindbergh's book We, to look for a suitable women pilot. He selected the little-known Amelia Earhart, and introduced her as "Lady Lindy".

While the flight instantly made her world-famous, she was little more than a passenger in the Fokker tri-motor "Friendship." They took off from Trepassy, Newfoundland, and after a 20 hour and 40 minute flight, landed in Burry Port, Wales. When they went on to London, another huge mob welcomed them. The pilots, Wilmer Stutz and Louis Gordon, were all but forgotten in the media frenzy surrounding the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

After Amelia's flight across the Atlantic in 1928, succeeded in attracting even more publicity than her sponsors, Amy Guest and George Putnam, had expected, George, a New York publicist, next organized a cross-country flight and a speaking tour for Amelia. While Putnam was married at the time, he was attracted to Amelia. He divorced his wife, and he and Amelia married in 1931. She was a charter member and first president of the "Ninety Nines," an organization of women in aviation, so named for the original number of members.

She achieved a number of aviation record. This is only a few of them:

The first woman to fly across the Atlantic, in 1928

The second person to fly solo across the Atlantic, in 1932

The first person to solo from Hawaii to California, in 1935

Guided by her publicist and husband, George Putnam, she made headlines in the era when aviation gripped the public's imagination.

On May 21, 1932, five years to the day after Lindbergh's flight, she took off in a Lockheed Vega, in an attempt to become the second person after Lindbergh (and first woman) to fly solo across the Atlantic. Starting from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, her flight lasted almost 15 hours, when she touched down in a pasture near Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (In fact, the distance from Newfoundland to Ireland being considerably shorter than Lindbergh's route from Long Island to Paris, her flight time was correspondingly shorter than his 33 hours.) Her Vega 5B is on display at the Smithsonian NASM.

Her Last Flight

In 1937 Amelia Earhart attempted an around-the-world flight. Flying a custom-built, Lockheed Model 10E Electra equipped with extra-large gas tanks, she would follow a 'close to the Equator' route, thus going one better than Wiley Post's northern, mid-latitude route. In her first effort, in March of 1937, she flew west, but a crash in Hawaii abruptly ended that trip.

.....................Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.

Starting on May 21, 1937 from Oakland, California, in the recently repaired Lockheed Electra, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, stayed over land as much as possible. After relatively short flights to Burbank, California, and Tucson, Arizona, they next touched down in New Orleans, and then Miami where the airplane was tuned-up for the long trip. From Miami, they flew through the Caribbean, to an enthusiastic welcome in San Juan, and then to Natal, Brazil, for the shortest possible hop over the Atlantic, although, at 1727 miles, it was the longest leg of the journey that they completed safely. They touched down in Senegal, West Africa; then eastward across Africa (via the dusty Sahal outposts of Gao, N'Djamena, and El Fasher) to Khartoum and then Ethiopia. From Assab, Ethiopia, they were the first to make an Africa-to-India flight, touching down in Karachi (then part of India), a 1627 mile leg.

From Calcutta, India they flew to Rangoon, Bangkok, and then Bandung, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Monsoon weather prevented departure from Bandung for several days. Repairs were made on some of the long distance instruments which had given trouble previously. During this time Amelia had become ill with dysentery that lasted for several days. After a stop in Darwin, Australia, they continued eastward to Lae, New Guinea, arriving there on June 29.

From Lae, they took off for Howland Island, 2200 miles away in the Pacific. Setting out to refuel at tiny Howland Island, radio transmissions between USCGC Itasca, a Coast Guard picket ship, and Earhart's aircraft reveal a rising crisis, as her fuel begins to run out. Her last message is a cryptic position report that the Coast Guard radio operators realize is not of sufficient length to provide a "fix". Earhart and Noonan continue to fly on. They never arrived.

Disappearance Speculation

Ironically Amelia Earhart has become more famous for disappearing than for her many real aviation achievements. It sparked a whole cottage industry of conspiracy theorists and "researchers." There are two main themes to these ideas. One, her around-the-world flight was a cover for a spy mission, commissioned by President Roosevelt to determine what the Japanese were up to in the Pacific. Two, she and Fred Noonan weren't simply swallowed up by the vast Pacific Ocean, but were captured by the Japanese. Obviously these two main themes work well in combination.

No evidence has ever been found to support either one of these ideas. But a lack of facts has not dissuaded these researchers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Queen Mary Waterfall

The Queen Mary Falls are found in the Main Range National
on the McPherson Range near the New South Wales/
Queensland border.

....................Overlooking the Queen Mary Waterfalls.

The 40 metre waterfall is located 50 km south-east of Warwick,

11 km east of the town of Killarney in Queensland, Australia on

the Killarney-Boonah Road. The route to the park is well

signposted. The approach from Boonah is very steep and

should be travelled with care. It is unsuitable for caravans.

........The waterfall from the base after a 30 minute walk.

The Queen Mary Falls are on Spring Creek, a tributary of the

Condamine River. The falls were formed when water erosion by

streams created gorges through layers of basalt and resistant

trachyte. Trachyte is an igneous, volcanic rock.

.......Driving through one of the 14 creek crossings.

Many, many moons ago, I went to visit the Queen Mary Falls and

I got lost and never did reach the falls.

................David, Janice and Warren.

.............Maree, David and Janice.

A few weeks ago, David a friend at work asked if I would like to

join him and some friends as they were going to the Queen Mary

Falls. Last Sunday I drove over to David’s place as were going in

his four wheel drive. There are two ways to go to the falls. One

is up the steep climb from Boonah, and the other is via the lower

road where we would need the four wheel drive, as we had

14 creek crossings over the tributary of the Condamine River.

.............Another creek crossing.

A week prior to our journey there had been a huge deluge of rain

in the Boonah area and David was a little concerned the creeks

might be too high for us to forge through the now fast running creek.

We decided to drive down to the first crossing to check out the

depth of the creek. Maree volunteered to walk through the creek

to check out the depth of the crossing. I had met David’s friend,

Janice a number of times, Maree was a friend of Janice and I had

not met her before. She turned out to be a “crazy” lady (and I say

this in the nicest way) with a immense sense of humour, and a

loud, enjoyable laugh. I had with me a digital video camera and a

still digital camera.

I wanted to video tape our “adventure” crossing the creeks.

Top to bottom: David, Maree and Warren at the base of the falls.

Maree forged the first crossing without incident and David then

drove though and had to return for me as I was recording this

first crossing. Maree also forged the second crossing.

The water was a little deeper and while walking through the

water both her thongs came free from her feet. Both thongs

began to float away in separate directions. She was able to

recover one thong, but the other was out of reach. During the

attempt to retrieve the second thong, Maree’s shorts became

drenched. Fortunately she had a swimming costume with her

and she was able to change into the bottom half of the togs.

I just liked the shape and design of both of these trees.

We caught up to some other four wheel vehicles in front of us

and we were able to watch and then follow them through

the rest of the crossings. After the last crossing, the dirt road,

turned into bitumen and we continued up the range towards

the falls. Before we reached the Queen Mary falls we stopped

and viewed two more waterfalls, the Teviot Falls and the Dagg's Falls.

Reaching the entrance to the Queen Mary Falls park there was

only a 500 metre walk to the viewing platform. We then proceed

to walk the 2km circuit to the base of the falls. The walk without

a stop would take 45 minutes to 1 hour. After we walked back to

the top, we sat down to a scrumptious picnic that had been

prepared by both ladies.

While we enjoyed our picnic we were visited by a Kookaburra.

.........David, Janice and Maree.

We had been most fortunate, as the drive up to the first creek

crossing was under rainy conditions. The drive through all the

14 crossings and then the walk and picnic, the rain ceased.

Once we were on the road home the rain returned. All in all

we spent a very enjoyable day with pleasant company.

.............A Crimson Rosella near the Caravan Park.

..........A Wallaby out in the open paddock.

Should you be in this part of the country a visit to the Queen

Mary Falls is well worth the effort. Mind you if there had a dry

spell, it would be quite possible to find the waterfall not in the

same splendid condition as we did, and it would be most

disappointing to drive all this way to view the falls to find them “dry”.

............A view from the back and then from the front.

Near the entrance to the falls there is a caravan park and just

before you enter the small shop nearby is a large burnt out tree

trunk. David stood inside so we could get an idea of what the

size of the tree was.

After all the rain the countryside was lush and green as these two

scenes will show you.

I took about 15 minutes of video and after editing it, I ended up

with just over 11 minutes. I am posting about three minutes of the

video, so that you can see some of what we encountered.