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Weather setback cancels Perth leg



The bicentennial around Australia air race suffered its second big setback on Saturday when the Gcraldton-Perth sec tor of the seventh day's leg was cancelled because of a rain squall over the race


Apart from the first day's delayed start because of low cloud and rain at Nar romine, and the fog that grounded planes at Broome for about two hours after the scheduled departure time, competitors had enjoyed five days of fine warm weather traversing Australia's tropical and sub-tropical northern regions.

Saturday's first sector of 242 nautical miles from Carnarvon to Geraldton also

was uneventful, despite the reappearance

of the first substantial cloud of the race since Narromine.

Although this had cleared at Gerald ton by the late morning, organisers then learned of a cold front due to pass over the coast 90 miles north of Perth.

. The start of the 202-nautical-miIe leg to Perth was then delayed until 1pm, and a Civil Aviation Authority plane sent to the area to investigate.

Crews and townspeople took advan tage of the delay to watch a low-level pass over Geraldton aerodrome by a US Air Force B-52 bomber on manoeuvres from Guam.

Shortly after 1pm, the CAA aircraft reported that the front could be negotiat ed by visual flight rules, and the all-clear was given to race starters.

However, when the first aircraft to reach the frontal activity, the PC9 flown by the RAAFs Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Ray Funnell, reported that the weather was down to instrument flight conditions, race organisers back in Ger aldton immediately halted further starts. Several aircraft, including the RAAFs School of Air Navigation HS748 and the Aerostar of race leader Mr Ted Rear, continued on to Perth's Jandakot airport under instrument flight rules.

Several others turned back to Gerald ton, while two landed at Cervantes and Lceman to wait out the passage of the


Late on Saturday evening, race direc tor Mr Jock Thompson said that all but

14 of the race aircraft had made it through to Jandakot.

"We may have an hour or two delay in the morning while those aircraft fly into Jandakot, but as tomorrow's leg is rela tively short we'll continue as planned to Kalgoorlie," he said.

"It was only a narrow band of frontal activity, but the safety of the race is uppermost in the minds of race organis ers. That's why John Douglas [race direc tor] made the decision.

"It's difficult to fly right around Aus tralia without encountering some weath er, but we're hopeful that the front will clear the way for some fine weather as the race heads east."

Mr Rear, Mr Magnus Liset and Mr

Ross Smith all consolidated their overall

race positions by taking out the first three places in Saturday's leg from

Broome to Carnarvon.

First was Mr Liset in the Long Ez, followed by Mr Smith in his Cessna 185.

Mr Rear shared third place with Mr Steve Gregory in a Cessna 150, but he still leads the overall race, followed by Mr Liset and Mr Smith.

Two Air Force planes, the School of Air Navigation's HS748 and 38 Squad ron's Caribou, now lying in fourth and fifth spot, closed the gap on the leaders on Saturday. The best of the ACT air craft to date are two Beech Bonanzas — one being piloted by Mr John Lea and Mr Kel Hlemers and the other by Dr Angela Ivanovici.

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