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Tue, Dec 23, 2003

Jon Johanson Sends Thanks

A Classy Guy Says 'Thanks' In A Very Classy Way

The following letter was sent by Jon Johanson, now safe at home after being stuck for a number of less then pleasant days, in the Antarctic.

Dear friends,

Since returning to Adelaide last Tuesday afternoon I haven't had time to think, let alone work out what day it is. I am only just becoming aware of the tremendous amount of help that so many people offered to the "mission control" team in Adelaide over the past eleven days - A mission control like no other, as so many people around the world have discovered.

Thank you does not seem to cover my gratitude adequately; still all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.

What an amazing couple of weeks it has been. On the 17th of December the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight - achieved by a couple of home builders in their experimental aircraft, the Wright Flyer. On the 8th of December, almost 100 years later, it was another home built, experimental aircraft that was flown solo over the South Pole. RV-4TE VH-NOJ, the first aircraft to be flown solo to the South Pole. It's all a bit hard to believe.

Despite the years of planning and knowing that we could do this safely, it has happened quickly enough for me to be tempted to feel that it is all a dream.

Over the eleven days we were away, VH-NOJ carried me 8,282 nautical miles (15,338 km) in 61 hours and 15 minutes at an average speed of 135 knots (250 kph). The years of planning to conquer the South Pole safely have paid off with even the bureaucrats getting their moment in the sun. In time the bureaucracy will be forgotten, as it should be, and only the achievement will be remembered.

Something that should never be forgotten though, is the generosity of one adventurous spirit to another - Polly Vacher and her team's selfless generosity in allowing me to use some of their fuel to safely complete my polar flight. How disappointing it must have been for Polly not to be able to reach her goal, but how typical of a team who have dedicated their time to helping disabled people gain their ultimate freedom through FLYING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE DISABLED

May I again say thank you to everyone and wish you season's greetings and a happy, prosperous new year.

Kind regards,

Jon Johanson
An ordinary Australian doing extraordinary things



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