Continuing my hour building in Australia, I decided to fly to Bendigo Airport through controlled airspace to gain some experience of being told what to do. I took VH-TXD, which is a Piper Archer, slightly faster then the Warrior but not as quick as an Arrow. The Archer has very poor climb-out performance but is very efficient in the cruise.
It was a sunny Friday and the overall weather was good for flying, however having light winds can reduce visibility greatly. Good visibility is in excess of 10Km. The weather in February in Australia usually boasts high pressure systems. It’s just Melbourne that can experience 4 seasons in a day, so it’s important to read the weather very carefully.
The picture below is somewhere northwest Melbourne. The small features such as the stadium are sometimes highlighted on a map and can help a great deal with navigation.
Bendigo is situated to the northwest of Melbourne in Victoria.
I have posted the picture below, of sweet chilli crisps, not because they are so tasty but because it demonstrates high pressure trying to escape at 7500ft.
Flying small planes can be tricky at times when your solo. Even though there was two of us on this flight I managed to loose maps at the back. This plane I would say is luxurious, offering leather seats for a training aircraft is not something you find that often. My seat even had a fury cover, very comfortable!
Below is a picture of a wind sock. It inflates into the direction of the wind and allows the pilot to determine which runway is the appropriate runway to land on. If the wind sock is flying into the south that would suggest the wind is blowing from the north and the preference would therefore be to land into the northerly runway. If there is one available! It may well become a crosswind landing! The sock on the ground looks very big, from the air it can look fairly small and you must know where on the aerodrome the sock is sitting. Of course you wouldn’t need to check all this if the airport had a tower to pass you relevant airport information.
Upon landing at Bendigo, as I have done during my initial training way back in 2008, there is nothing to do. Except get sun burnt. I’m sure the town offers something.
A picture of the tail of VH-TXD.
Inside TXD, which also has TCAS! I have never ever come across a trainer that incorporates a Traffic Collision Avoidance System, very cool and very useful around busy airspace.
Me on the starboard wing of TXD.
This part of my hour building process took me from Broken Hill in New South Wales to Oodnadatta in South Australia. Whose bright idea was it to go to Oodnadatta? Well, one of the instructors at Moorabin Flying Services by the name of Chris Mirra. He said you will definitely have fun there. We sure did and you can read about that in the next post!
This journey commenced early morning in Broken Hill with some flight planning then a stop at the supermarket before we reached Broken Hill departure lounge for some more complications. More on this below.
We decided to buy plenty of water and sweets. Simply because this route had very long legs between the middle airport (Olympic Dam) where we were due to refuel and wanted to plan for an engine failure!!! Some parts of Australia are referred to as ‘remote designated areas’, where a search and rescue service could take its time to reach you.
The complications were to do with the NOTAM that came out that morning. A NOTAM stands for NOtince To AirMen, hopefully that now makes it obvious. It highlighted an area of restricted airspace where the Australian Army were letting off some sort of missiles! I even rang the Australian Army that morning to get a full brief. The worst thing was that the information specifying the ‘no go’ area was given in lat’ and long’, so it meant you had to be accurate when plotting this on your map, inevitably the whole process was eating up into flight time and the chances of getting to Ayers Rock that same day were becoming smaller and smaller. The flight planning was all done in the departure lounge with passengers sitting around waiting for flights! We had maps everywhere, laptop and baggage taking up a whole area. It was very odd to do this. I really don’t know whether there was a flight planning room for General Aviation. After submitting the flight plan and fighting off the flies in the 40c heat, we managed to leave Broken Hill and knew we would return…
As you can see from the pictures below the land is vast and very dry, especially after leaving New South Wales and flying into South Australia.
The pictures below show the start of a salt filled lake, well that’s what we thought it was. It was actually rather worrying as it was at least a 40minute crossing and it’s not like you can just land in the salt if need be.
No idea where the bottom picture was taken, but you do wonder how the people there live?
The picture below was our first re-fuel stop. The airport known as ‘Olympic Dam’. I clearly remember that there was a mass amount of cross wind on final approach and had no choice but to ‘go-round’ and try again. This rarely happens in commercial operations but is a real possibility for various reasons. The difference is if a 747 went round it would cost quite a bit of money!
I think the cross wind may be to do with the heat generated from the small factories that were on the left of the runway, either that or just thermals as it was extremely hot. Olympic Dam definitely looked like something out of the movies which you will see in another post on our way back from Ayers Rock.
This runway has a massive upslope either side, so you cannot see the other end of the runway and flaring can be interesting as I found. Flaring is when you lift the planes nose up on landing, otherwise you will land flat and it’s possible to strike the prop!
This was the next re-fuel stop, Oodnadatta, where things really didn’t go to plan. After landing on the what is left of the runway as seen below. We parked up and was greeted by plently of flies in the scorching heat.
Behind the plane you can see a fuel tanker. It had pink tyres, was locked and nobody around to give us fuel. I followed Randy to a small room that was based on the edge of the small airport. It had a sign saying to use the VHF radio to call some-one for fuel and was full of spider webs and more flies. Randy attempted several times to contact someone to organise fuel, but nobody was coming and it was getting darker. I was getting irritated by the flies.
We decided to lock the plane and walk to the town of Oodnadatta.
In July 2007 I decided to pack my bags and take a break and ship out to Melbourne, Australia. I went there to get away from London and simply to gain life experience. However I thought I’d bring back with me something, a Private Pilot License.
My journey began at Heathrow airport on a very cold January evening. I had booked to fly with China Eastern, ever heard of them? I hadn’t until I found a cheap ticket at £800 return which I ended up losing! More on that later.