Pilots face challenges

Flight4Life team pilots Mark Jennings-Bates and Vernon's Glenn Derouin face challenges in Australia

  • Mar. 11, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The challenges continue for the Flight4Life team and Parajet expedition pilots Mark Jennings-Bates and Vernon’s Glenn Derouin in Australia.

For Peachland’s Jennings-Bates, after three years of planning and investing in the project, the dream of setting a new world record for longest continuous powered paraglide flight is finished. In Queensland, a bad launch resulted in a broken propeller and, unfortunately, the team had to arrange to have some spares flown out from the U.K.

“We all knew it was going to take precious time to get the props here and we had two choices, wait for a few weeks so that we could carry on as a team, or continue giving Glenn and the team overall the best chance of success,” said Jennings-Bates.

“I am gutted. It was probably the most difficult decision I have made in my life after all the effort I have put into this; but, at the end of the day, the whole project is to raise awareness and funds for charity, so the show must go on. It is not about me personally getting a world record, although I have to admit, that would have been cool … another day.”

To make matters worse, the team flew into flooding that’s forced 13,000 Aussies to evacuate their homes.

The team has made very little progress over the past week, watched as communities were evacuated from floods, been trapped by floods, had the route detoured because of floods, winds and rain and decided enough is enough.

The Australian government has declared parts of New South Wales a disaster zone, and said the floods are the worst in almost 160 years.

In essence, the Flight4Life team has no way to go south.

All possible roads that include flyable airspace above them are closed due to floods, and with the threat of more bad weather on the way for these communities, the decision was made to turn around. The team will back track to Nyngan, about 170 km northwest.

“The adventure continues,” Jennings-Bates said.

“We are not sure how Guinness will treat the backtracking segment, but as far as I can tell in the criteria, it is not restricted since it forms part of a continuous journey and the weather has left us no choice.”

Donations are being accepted for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Rally4Life. To follow, log into their website at http://theflight4life.com/