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  • Many of the clockwise seaplanes are Seareys. How big is a Searey?
    They are very small! The Searey is a 2 seat, high wing, single-engine pusher prop airplane with conventional retractable landing gear (taildragger). Engine size and type varies. If you are familiar with small airplanes, its size is similar to a Cessna 152 with a similar maximum gross weight of just over 1600 lb/726 kg– this includes the airplane, spare parts, fuel, pilots, survival gear, & personal baggage.
  • Why did Cathy and David choose to promote Science, technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and diversity in Aviation careers during this trip?
    In 1970, when Cathy learned to fly, the % of female pilots in the US was only 6%. Unfortunately, in the ensuing 50+ years, that percentage has only crept up by 1 or 2%. The statistics for female airline captains are even more dismal. Cathy was lucky to have role models at her local airport, but her high school guidance counselor was not helpful, suggesting she should become a flight attendant, not a pilot. With the current and increasing shortage of pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and engineers, role models are needed.
  • Who is the primary organizer?
    Each aircraft is autonomous, but we are sharing information with each other via Zoom, email, and a private forum for participants. David Geers of the Clockwise group created this website and hosts the Zoom planning meetings.
  • Is Cathy’s US seaplane pilot license valid in Australia?
    Yes, but in order to log pilot in command time in an Australia-registered aircraft, she was required to apply for a holiday flying permit (called a COV) from CASA (same function as US FAA), undergo a background check for an airport access card called an ASIC from Australia’s office of Home Affairs, and had to pay to take an English test to prove she could speak & understand ATC communications with a variety of accents. The total cost was approximately $600 AUD/ $400 USD.
  • Since the Searey is such a small aircraft, you must need to pack very lightly. How much can you take with you?
    Please see the A Weighty Issue BLOG which discusses the importance of weight in general. In addition to the blog post, there are many required items we need to carry for documenting, communicating, and safety, plus spare parts, clothing, sunblock, insect repellant, snacks, water, camping equipment, & petrol bladders to transport petrol from auto pumps to the plane. Cathy brought only 7kg/15lb or less of personal items! The Searey can carry about 450-480lb/204-218kg of these items including pilots & petrol.
  • If Cathy and David are flying together, who is the pilot?
    That's a great question. Both of them are licensed seaplane pilots. Only one at a time can log pilot in command time. It does not matter which seat the "pilot" sits in because each seat has controls. The pilots need to agree. They can even change who is the pilot while enroute. Bottom line: the pilots decide who logs the time as pilot. additional nuance: (ok to skip!) Both pilots can log time if one is flying solely by reference to instruments using a view limiting device because the other pilot is REQUIRED to keep the plane safe by looking out the window for traffic and hazards. They won't be doing much of that because they want to see the beautiful land that they are flying over and around!
  • Did you have reservations and plans for every stop?
    We had solid plans covering the first 5 days, staying with friends. We couldn't make non-refundable type reservations for lodging or meet & greets/media events due to weather variability and possible maintenance issues. Not all the planes stopped at the same places. After that, we sought lodging 2 days in advance.
  • What were the most difficult parts of the trip?
    This journey had many moving parts. Challenges: 1. On a daily basis, figuring out lodging is hard because most reservations are non-refundable. This required us to only plan a day or 2 ahead. Home stays were our most flexible options. 2. In the less populated areas from Broome eastward, fuel was our greatest challenge. The Seareys prefer Mogas (for cars) and can also use the more expensive AVgas (AV=Aviation). In most places, we had to take fuel bladders that we brought along and find a way to the gas station and back to the airport. David said, "that's part of the fun and you get to meet a lot of interesting people!" We did! 3. Weather - Our clockwise path and the time of year combined to give us the best chance of avoiding bad weather. Sea fog can form quickly and obscure landing areas. Thankfully, compared to 1924, weather forecasting has come a long way. We had 3 rules for the trip: SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY! We had no delays due to weather. A few times on planned no-fly days, the weather was not good. As a result, we completed our trip on the planned date, May 26, 2024. 4. About 2-3 airplanes were traveling together at various portions of the trip. We spent significant time as a group making decisions about all the things above. We kept our sense of humor and were grateful we were on the journey together, knowing that challenges will make great stories at some time in the future.
  • How are David and Cathy promoting STEM education and diversity in aviation careers during the trip?
    First, Cathy has exemplified that women can succeed in many aviation careers. Often during her working years, she was the only or one of the few women in her workplace or at the airport when she was flying for fun or work. Next, Cathy & David were interviewed by podcasters and news media before and during the trip. They also spoke at the Aviation High School in Brisbane upon arrival in Australia and welcome requests for media interviews.
  • Where did you stop?
    First, our Itinerary page has a list of proposed stops with dates. Weather, maintenance, lodging availability, or even interesting opportunities can cause us to land at airports identified as "flyover" locations or stay more or less days at a location. We will be updating that page to reflect the actual stops in the near future.
  • How much did this adventure cost?
    Each aircraft’s expenses will vary based on type of aircraft and style of accommodation used. David & Cathy estimate their total average daily expense is US$400/day (US$30K for the trip). Landing fees and fuel bills are still arriving via the Australian Post. Once all expenses are tallied, statistics will be added to the Home page. We used every kind of accommodation including home stays, B&Bs, hotels/motels, and roadhouses- whichever was most economical & available for the location. One pilot planned to camp every possible night.
  • Do you have a question that has not been answered?
    Please use our contact form to ask it.
  • Did you have a ground crew?
    No, we planned to be self-sufficient. Many people along the way provided transportation to lodging and to petrol stations to fill our fuel bladders. Most of our engines prefer 95 octane unleaded auto petrol, but can use 100 octane low lead aviation petrol.
  • Are all the airplanes seaplanes?
    No. We invited anyone to join up for any part of the entire route in any kind of airplane. Two land-only airplanes joined the clockwise group for part of the circumnavigation.
  • Why are you flying around mainland Australia?
    We are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the first time it was done in 1924 by the Royal Australian Air Force. The RAAF used a seaplane for the first circumnavigation because in 1924 there weren't many airports.
  • How long did this trip take?
    The original anti-clockwise trip took 44 days and the 2024 anti-clockwise trip by Michael Smith in his Seabear will take the same route, matching the timing. The entire 2024 clockwise circumnavigation took 58 days, including multi-day stops in some places. You can view projected stops at Itinerary. Trip statistics are on the Home page.
  • How high did you fly during the journey?
    Most of the time we flew between 500 and 1500 ft above sea level. Pilots' altimeters read in feet - for our metric friends, that's 152-457 meters. Sometimes, after checking weather forecasts, we climbed avoid a headwind or catch a tailwind. The highest we flew was to climb to is 10,500ft/3200m.
  • Are all the landings going to be on water?
    No. All the seaplanes are amphibious and landed on water, normal airports, and private landing areas. All overnights were at land airports to avoid the corrosive effects of salt water and concerns about being stranded by outgoing tides and wind-whipped rough water.
  • Cathy Babis, who became the first female seaplane pilot to fly a seaplane around mainland Australia, is from St, Louis, Missouri, USA. How did she and David Geers become flying partners?
    Cathy responded to a post David made in a Facebook seaplane group that they both belong to. After a few emails & a Zoom call, they decided they would probably get along for 60 days in austere to luxurious conditions.
  • Are you seeking donations or sponsors?
    That is up to each aircraft. The Sponsors & Supporters page lists people and organisations that contributed to the success of David and Cathy's journey.
  • Why are there 2 groups of airplanes?
    The original flight was anti-clockwise departing from Point Cook on 6 April 1924. They encountered bad weather and headwinds. Michael Smith replicated that route as closely as possible in his twin-engine Seabear seaplane, including extended stops that were needed for repairs. One plane proceeded due north from Point Cook to Darwin and joined the anti-clockwise flight. The clockwise group is composed of smaller, slower aircraft and the prevailing weather patterns and temperatures favour that direction. The clockwise and anti-clockwise groups met in Broome, WA at the end of April.
  • What is Cathy’s background in promoting STEM?
    First, she was always the girl who liked math & science and has worked in many STEM dependent aviation careers. Immediately after her retirement from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Aeronautical department, she taught a week-long aviation summer camp at a local technical college. She repeated teaching the camp for 3 years until the program was discontinued. Since 2019, she has volunteered in the Wings of Hope STEM education program as both a mentor and teacher of the Navigation and Communication segment and leader of the Air Traffic Control exercise for 6 sessions.
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