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With this in mind, I now think I also have an explanation for them hearing the motor run and stop three times:

 

 

You’ll note that this track over flies three valleys and so hence we can take it that what these observers heard was the resulting echoing from these three valleys traveling down to their position. It would sound like the motor was stopping and starting as it crossed each valley!

This of course means that when they heard it ‘stop’ for the final time, does not mean that was the position where the motor went quiet due to fuel starvation.

If Ryan did set course for West Melton from about overhead Harper River, then allowing for room for error of what position he was in that valley, I have placed a pink shaded overlay shown

in the next GE image of the area he would have likely flown over:

If we go back to the last calculation (page 15) from Ross to Glenthorne Station:

100 knots = 20 mins + time from Ross = 37 mins =   3 to 23 mins fuel remaining

110 knots = 18 mins                               35               5 to 25   

120 knots = 16 mins                               32               8 to 28 <

130 knots = 15 mins                              30             10 to 30

 

With the distance to Glenthorne swapped over onto the course shown in the above image, this gives approximately another 12 miles to run (6 mins) to be at the back of Mt Torlesse, - where the smoke was seen!

As previously mentioned, as we don’t know exactly how many times he circled in the Ross area as per one report, another in the Upper Kokatahi area, and whether four orbits in the northern Lake Kaniere was enough for him to climb to possibly 8 to 10,000 ft to enable going over the top, then these fuel remaining times as in the above calculation could be less. To give you an idea of how much extra time he could have used from his fuel reserves, an average circuit at a rate one turn takes two minutes to complete, so for any extra circuits would have used an extra 2 mins from the above figures - and a little extra if he was on full power climbing.

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