Two Hungarian sportsmen set out to accomplish a daring trip by air from a small town in Hungary (Keszthely) to Sydney, in a Hungarian built ultra-light aircraft. One of them is chief pilot Andor Kantas, has a 9 year old daughter, Lucia ( after whom the aircraft is named), who was born with Rett Syndrome.
The aim of the flight is to raise awareness of Rett Syndrome and establishinganinstitution fordisabledchildren in Keszthely.
Nov. 2. 2002.– Day of Departure Sármellék Balaton Airport, Hungary (Lak Balaton)
After painfully long preparations the day has finally come. The weather was not cooperating and it seemed uncertain if we would even be granted permission for takeoff but, regardless, we knew that now there was no turning back. The fog was thick and many in the gathered crowd were wondering aloud if it was safe to fly. If only they knew that we too had the same thoughts! However, after all the interviews and endless preparations we were eager to get going.
Csongor, Katalin Pokorni President of Hungarian Rett Syndrome Ass. , Andor
Our emotions were high as the brass band organized by our friends played an emotional rendition of the Hungarian national anthem. By this point the realization had hit home for everyone – we were actually flying to Australia! Once we had settled into the cockpit and checked our gauges one last time we took a final look at our gathered family members. With a heavy heart I asked for permission to taxi the runway. I proceeded slowly as I took the opportunity to capture the image of the moment in my mind. However, by the time we hit the runway all thoughts were on the challenge ahead. With a quivering but happy voice I radioed the flight control tower.
<Sármellék info : HA-YNAU is ready for departure >
The takeoff was successful. Followed by a Cessna 150 piloted by my friend, Szalai Feri, and Csongor’s brother, Szabolcs, who tagged along in his tetraflyer, we executed a flyby of the crowd, tilting the wings as a sort of final wave. With our company in tow, we flew over Keszthely and my own tiny airport from where I’ve taken off so many times on ten minute tourist flights . I had to remind myself that this flight is no mere ten minute tourist excursion !
Soon Keszthely was receding in the distance . The ultraflyer’s engine was purring beautifully. Another check of the gauges and we made for Szeged. We wanted one last glance of Balaton but the clouds blocked our view. Instead, I looked to Csongor we gave each other an exuberant high five. Our flight to Szeged lasted 1 1/2 hours due to a strong backwind. Landing in Szeged went smoothly but it was not long before we discovered a most unwanted and unexpected problem. After parking the plane we noticed that the fuel tank was leaking. We immediately made the decision to takeoff for Eger where the factory which produced the plane was located to have them correct the problem. Needless to say, we were somewhat dejected and annoyed that after the first leg of our journey we were already experiencing technical malfunctions. But ,as I promised Csongor’s father I would return him safely from Australia, these problems must be overcome!
We returned to Szeged tired and ready for some sleep but before long we had a knock on our hotel room door. It was Laszlo Szukics, Csongor’s university roomate. He invited us to a restaurant on the banks of the Tisza River where we dined on a fish soup that was second to none. Finally, after downing a celebratory shot of palinka we retired to our hotel to rest for the adventures that await us.