Coote and Colson get away early from Warren Creek and continue east arriving at the airstrip late morning and find the Golden Quest fairly intact, the Aboriginals have visited the plane and caused some minor damage to a lower wing, the torn fabric is easily repaired. After lunch the men clear another hundred yards of runway, of course the thought crosses Colson's mind that this should have been done last Sunday when all the men and equipment were here, they finish work late in the day and Coote decides he will make a dash for Illbilla despite Freddy's protests about the rapidly fading light.
Coote warms up the engine and the plane is running sweetly, nevertheless the pilot has a premonition that all is not well, ignoring his instincts he takes off, the plane rises very slowly and clips a dead gum branch at the end of the runway and the Golden Quest crashes, coming to rest more or less upside down and on it's nose, Coote is trapped in the cockpit and it takes Colson several minutes to rescue the pilot. Coote appears to be badly injured and Colson prepares a bunk in the back of the vehicle and leaves an easily discovered note for the Illbilla team, it will be a non stop drive to Alice Springs. Poor bloody plane, destroyed a day after it was finally registered.
Blakeley has another anxious day waiting for the plane at Illbilla and towards sunset prepares the Thornycroft for a hasty trip east searching for Coote. The leader has to make a difficult decision, to leave the supply dump unguarded or take all hands in the search for Coote. Lasseter and certainly Mick are reluctant to remain behind, as no Aboriginals have been seen to date he takes the risk and all the men board the Thornycroft.
They set off as soon as it dark, it's a thrilling ride as Taylor makes haste and cuts off many corners of the outward track. Towards midnight the truck comes to a crashing halt as it ploughs into a large clump of mulga, the headlights are smashed and all is in darkness, luckily there are no major injuries and after repairs they continue to Warren Creek, where camp is called. Taylor reflects on an unusual 30th birthday.