Saturday, September 15, 2012


4 Mar 2012

Gday All,

I've toured over pretty much all of Australia in my Savannah,
and before that in a little Spectrum Beaver ultralight, with a tent under the wing.

Those travels are under 'Outback Adventures' at
I'd pretty much 'worn out' Australia, so there was nowhere new to go....

For some years I'd dreamt of flying the western USA, especially the high deserts.
I had thought of buying an LSA and getting an LSA license over there (my Australian license and 2400hrs experience aren't recognized there...), but not so easy.....
Turns out you must be a US citizen or a green card resident to register an aircraft there.....

Also, travelling around in such an aircraft and sleeping in a pup tent under the wing is okay for a couple of weeks, but for several months in all weather it would get a bit tiring.....
So I'd already started to dream of a transportable aircraft that I could tow in a trailer behind a camper van, and so have a good bed and an aircraft to fly locally.

Then at Oshkosh 2011 I spotted a little Kolb FireFly ultralight, and saw the answer!
A cute little ultralight with folding wings that would fit in a compact trailer.
And it complies with the Part 103 category, so no registration or license required.  
Just what I needed!
So planning started right then,
and this trip is the result!

Once I get an idea in my head of something I want to do, I can’t just sit around and dream about it, I have to get into action.  I’m retired, with no wife these days, so that’s a whole lot easier for me than it is for others, so I make the most of it.....  In November 2012 I found a suitable FireFly on Barnstormers.  It was in southern Mississippi, but friend Joe in northern Mississippi flew down in his Zenith 701 and inspected it and gave it the OK and arranged for it to be stored for me.  Next I wanted a light trailer, instead of one of the heavy car haulers, and I wouldn’t have time or facility to build one.  Then a friend in Las Vegas found me a derelict Airstream Argosy trailer in New Mexico, so I bought it sight unseen.  So I was now committed to the adventure, and to a long road trip as well.  Sometimes it’s an advantage to be so impulsive and get ahead of myself; if I’d thought more about all the hassles that such a project could involve I might have backed out.....

But just as well that I didn't back out.  I'm 73 already, so any time now I might start feeling old..... 
So these days I feel an urge to get as many adventures and memories as I can, while I can....
And I'm sure glad that I did this one!

So, in mid-March 2012 I found myself riding a Qantas 747 across the ocean, 
with excited anticipation, and some trepidation, 
of the adventure to come.....

John Gilpin

These are the roads that I drove, quite a road trip, approx 24,000 miles (40,000 km)

These are the airfields that I flew from, 48 airfields in 14 states.

View JG's Ultralight Walkabout USA in a larger map

As you can see, I covered a lot of the western USA.
And that's what I came to do......
And so glad that I did!
I've now got some great memories!


I've put this weblog together after finishing the trip, so I guess it's not really a blog as such.  
If I just left it as a blog, the time sequence would put the last flight at the top of the page..... 
But that didn't seem right, 
so I've faked the 'Published Dates' in the index on the right side of the page 
so that the first events appear at the top of the page, and later events follow on.  
So those dates aren't the true dates when I was at various places.  
The actual dates are in the upper left corner of each page.
And when you're scrolling through to the bottom of the page, 
you'll need to click on 'Older Posts' to get to the next posts.
Sounds confusing but it works OK.

.............................................................. aircraft is so small, and the mountains are so big......
At 10,000 ft near Albuquerque, NM.
Photo by Dennis Kirby, based Sandia Airpark.