I am of an age where birthdays are much more somber events than they were. They have switched from counting up to counting down.
Not much to report. I did get confirmation that the first of two pieces of Australian gov't paperwork I need for Outback Overflight has been received at the agency in Camden NSW where I'll be picking up my rental aircraft, so that's a huge weight off my mind. I'm going to get to fly. I'm not going to have to abort the adventure plan mid-run because I can't legally pilot.
Of course, there are a billion other things that could go wrong, requiring replan, but there's nothing to be done about that. Nature of the beast.
The second piece of paper, the ASIC (or Aviation Security Identification Card) is in process but on hold - they can't issue it until I legally arrive in Australia and my name is in the immigration computers as having been processed. Then they have a week to get it to the rental place -well, six days, really - before I have to depart on the tour. I'm giving that a 50% chance of making it. If it doesn't show, I"m not entirely sure what the ramifications are. It means I won't be able to get on or off major airports in Australia. However, since the tour is taking us around the Outback, I think there are only a couple of stops where that's an issue. Unfortunately, the third day or so involves us stopping at an Air Force Base to refuel and maybe watch some jets, so probably I'll need the card to do that, at the very least.
It's not a 100% fail if it doesn't show up. The tour pilots have these cards, and I'll be with them the whole trip - modulo different arrival times since I have a slightly faster airplane (and am more likely to get lost, the other way). They don't make tour passengers get these cards. So most likely, the 'pilots in command' have to have them in order to get passengers on and off the airfield (much like larger airports here in the U.S.) - which would mean they could probably escort myself and my pax on and off field, if necessary. I'll have a US passport and an authority to pilot from their government, which means problems here will likely be very inconvenient but not involve legal hazard.
I test-packed all my gear last night. I think I'm going to be able to do this trip with three carry-on items - a soft-side camping bag, a backpack for the electronics, and my CPAP in its carry case (United Airlines has told me that I'll be able to bring 3 items if I have a medical device as one of them). My backpack isn't optimal - too many things are jumbled together - but it'll work. I'll look around for a better bag solution this week though. I'm a sucker for bags, so if I have to buy a new one…well, horrors. :-)
This is getting a little nerve-wracking. I know it's because this is not a vacation, it's an adventure, so that's normal. But still. As I (may have) said here before - I tend to get stressed about doing New Things in aviation (or things I haven't done in a while). I have never, in my flying career, set out to make a flight to an airport more than around 200 nautical miles away. In Australia, I'm committed to 2.5 weeks of flying 300-500 miles *every day*. In another country. Over desert and/or wasteland in many cases. So yeah, I'm winding my nerves up a bit.
I will be getting a couple of days (maybe three) of training as soon as I arrive though, so I'm not going into this cold. I think that I'll continue to get nervous until the day I leave, solo, on the first leg of the trip. At some point in that leg, probably around halfway, when I realize I'm on course and know what I'm doing, the stress will lower. When I get sight of the destination airfield, it will drop way down, and when I'm on the ground that night it will probably switch to PURE AWESOME.