Gold Coast Scenic Flight

Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast) from the air

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to the Gold Coast for a conference. It meant travelling on Sunday arvo to arrive in time for the Monday afternoon sessions. After flying to Brisbane from Perth, I hired a car and drove to my hotel at Surfers. The flight over on Qantas was good, it was another 4 hours to spend studying for the PPL exam. The focus at the moment is on Navigation. When I catch up on my blog entries for the three Nav flights I haven’t shared, you’ll know why.

On waking up early on Monday, I checked out the conference schedule, and my first session wasn’t till 2pm. So that left time for a beach run and a good few hours of work (in peace!). By about 9:30, I was being distracted by the odd plane flying past and the occasional whine of the Jet Ranger helicopters ferrying the tourists past. It didn’t take long for my browser to be requesting Google for the nearest airport and flight schools. There were two listings for Coolangatta Airport. I figured that if on the remote chance I could get an hour with one of the flight schools before the conference started, I’d go for it. The first I called Australian Wings Academy and was put straight through to the CFI, Nathan. He was a friendly guy and after some deliberation said he could get me a Cessna 172R and an instructor who could show me about. We discussed a route and it was locked in!!!

On leaving Surfers, it was a good 40 minutes drive to Coolangatta Airport. The traffic on the Gold Coast was surprisingly heavy, not helped by significant preparation being put in place for the schoolies event due to be kicking off later in the week. On arrival at Air Wings Academy, the friendly receptionist took me in to meet Nathan, the CFI. We chatted for about 15 minutes and worked out he’d done his IFR training at Jandakot Flight Centre. He also had worked at Air Australia for a while as well. It is a small world this flying caper! After all that was done, Nathan introduced me to Cameron, who was to be the instructor who would accompany me.

The plane use on my Gold Coast flight

Cameron had already pre-flighted and submitted our flight plan.  He was pretty much being a gentleman to even fit me in, let alone let me rock up and just fly. See Air Wings Academy has the contract to train the Air Asia pilots. Cameron had to leave a couple of  students to work on their theory so he could accommodate my flight. Coolangatta Airport is a Class C International Airport. This means, it has considerable jet traffic and is fully controlled like Perth Airport.  Sweet!

Tiger Airways landing at Coolangatta

We got the first sight of this being an International Airport when a Tiger Airways Airbus landed as we taxied out.  There was also JetStart Airbus who we could hear getting permission to pushback as we approached the runway.  As we taxied out we stopped short of the runway and did our run ups.  See there were no run up bays here.  On making our ready call, we were given immediate clearance to take-off and told a hill in front of us was our aim point on lift-off.  In Class C airspace, the tower give far more instructions, which actually makes life pretty easy.  As we approach the hill in front of us, we were given our permission to turn out over the water for our 500 foot flight north along the shore of the Gold Coast.  After about 4 minutes of us being in the air, the JetStar Airbus was given clearance to take-off, and no doubt climbed well above us while we maintained our low level altitude along the coast.

One of the many waterways on the Gold Coast

The first thing you notice, is that the scenery is not flat, brown and boring, rather it is green, mountainous and interesting.  This was pretty much the theme for much of the flight.  Our route was to take us the full length of the Gold Coast to Southport, then North West for about 10 miles before to overfly DreamWorld, then South West out into the fantastic mountains!  We’d have to remain at 500ft till Southport.  However, before we hit SouthPort, the size of the buildings at Surfers Paradise becomes more real.  They tower well above our 500ft.  Once at Southport, we finally climbed above 500ft.  As we did, the scenery finally started opening up in front of us and more amazing waterways.  Cameron gave me a run down of the islandswith amazing looking houses.  He simply referred to them as the “Haves” and the “Have nots”.  The “Have nots” in opinion still looked to have plenty even on their canal frontages.

After overflying DreamWorld, we headed out towards the amazing looking Hinterlands.  The hills seemed to quickly rise towards us, but we had to wait till clearing the altitude boundaries.  At this point we climbed to about 4500 feet.  The first thing that dawns on you is that their is nowhere to conduct a forced landing.  So instead for the next 30 odd minutes you focused more on enjoying the scenery and listening closely to the hum of the Lycoming power plant out in front.  We flew a track through the Hinterland that had us flying between peaks and around the highest mountain in the area.  It was just awesome!

Gold Coast Hinterland scenery

Once rounding the mountain, there was a naturally valley between the hills that we did a cruise descent to Murwillumbah, whereby we’d levelled off at 1500 feet.  Cameron didn’t mention it to me before, but he jumped not he radio to Coolangatta Arrivals and requested airways clearance, followed by a surprise.  He requested clearance for a 500 foot run along the Tweed River.  Obligingly the tower granted his request and said to report at Point Danger (what a cool reporting point name).

“Right, this is a big treat”, he said, “we don’t often do this, we only show our students this amazing little secret if they have done really well.”  So cool, my first flight with them 🙂  he continued, “The rule is, you need to desend now to 500 feet and stay directly above the water.  You can’t overfly the houses at this height, so you need to stay centred on the water.”  We joined the river about 3 miles before Murwillumbah over the Green Hills caravan park.  I tackled the first bend in the middle of town with a 30 degree angle of bank turn.  My smile was huge and it felt pretty easy peasy.  Cameron commented that the turn was good, but that was only a warm up!

He was right, the turns really started to tighten at the town of Tumbulgum.  This was probably the second most difficult.  It required a right 60 degree turn, full power and a wrestle with the yoke to make the turn and maintain our 500 feet.  Pulling out of the turn was almost as aggressive as the entry, with boot fulls or opposite rudder to balance the turn exit.  There was another tight turn a few more miles up the river, however there were no houses, so not as bigger challenge.  Then it approached!

What was to be our last big turn meant flying directly towards a hill which towered well above us.  It was covered in trees and as we approached, the effect of the wind coming over the hill was very apparent.  All Cameron said was, “this is the fun bit!”  He was right, it required a 60 degree turn, with the hill no more than 50 metres in front and air waves creating significant turbulence.  Lets just say it was bloody awesome!!!  In the hours earlier, I’d never have thought I’d be practicing 60 degree angle of bank turns at 500 feet flying directly at a hill!  Mint!

After this excitement, it was pretty must straight forward along the river till the tower identified us at Point Danger, nearing the end of the Tweed River.  We were requested to join right base.  It was at this stage that for the first time, “caution wake turbulence” actually made me think.  As we were turning base a jet was touching down in front.  With our low altitude, it meant those spinning vortexes would have been looming above us.  Cameron said that it is real for them every flight, but said he hadn’t experienced anything severe to date.

We setup for approach and landing, doing all our usual checks.  There was a pretty solid cross wind of around 16 knots.  Cameron warned me that there was quite severe wind sheer earlier.  The approach was fun, I crabbed it in, but you are met with waves that make you lift and sink in a continuous motion.  Nearing touch down, I setup for the cross wind and flaired, letting the plane take her time to find the ground.  There was significant float given we’d used only 10 degrees of flap.  The one thing that came obvious during the flair, was that we were a little higher.  I mentioned it to Cameron and he said that was quite common.  The reason being that the runway is considerably wider that your typically general aviation runway and it creates a bit of a visual illusion.  It didn’t matter, I maintained the cross wind technique and we touched down lightly on our right wheel before bringing the other wheels down.  Cameron made comment that the landing was a lot better than he expected, sweet!

Cameron, your a legend!

We taxied in and we packed the aircraft away.  The experience was awesome and if you ever find yourself on the Gold Coast, look up Cameron or Nathan at Air Wings Academy.  Request this exact flight plan and have a blast!  Big thanks to both of these guys and the fantastically big smile they left me with for the rest of the week!  On reflection after, I wished I’d done two things.  Firstly, recorded the GPS track.  Secondly, had my GoPro strapped firmly to my head.  It would have been awesome to watch!  So the only thing I can now truly recommend now is to go and do it yourself.  If you want somebody to go with you, I’d fall over myself to do it again!!!

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Tweet Tweet

The time has come, I’m finally going to give Twitter a go. Its become obvious that the best way to keep in touch with what’s happening is to subscribe to the many twitter feeds of people, news agencies and companies who have content or views on what interests me.

The other angle is that I am getting further and further behind on writing blog posts, at least 4 flights behind. I still want to do them for all the reasons I originally decided, but in the mean time, I figure that Twitter provides me with a way of keeping track of what’ I’ve done. Then later I can come back and blog it up.

From an Aviation point of view, there are some damn fine Twitter feeds too, everything from big corporations, to NASA, right through to an Air Hostie who has become the golden girl of the news agencies! There is some funny stuff! Anyway, the tweets now show on the side of the blog page or you can “follow” as the alternative.

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Study study study

Becoming a Private Pilot is not all just fun and flying with your head in the clouds. It is also about learning, observing and thinking ahead. It is those 4 things that are a big focus for me right now, study time! If I am to be completely honest, its not through choice that they are my single focus right now.

The reason why they are a priority, is because the fun and flying has been significantly restricted of late due to weather and the Commonwealth Heads of Governance Meeting (CHOGM) held in Perth a few weeks back. At the moment I’m up to Navigation Flight #4 (controlled airspace and Perth missed approach) which will be promptly followed by Navigation Flight #5 (controlled airspace solo). These two flights have been cancelled week after week. Damn those Cumulonimbus clouds!

Actually during CHOGM, the kids and I stopped in at Jandakot to pickup a new VTC. However, everything was pretty much closed down, other than the sweet looking police chopper swooping in. Given that damn chopper pretty much had been buzzing overhead 24 x 7 driving everybody I know nuts, we thought it was worth a look. We drove up and caught sight of the aircraft as it was just powering down its turbines. Once everything came to rest, the flight crew got out. I’m sure in paranoia mode, one of the flight crew wandered over to the fence and asked, “Um is there anything I can help you with?”. Just looking, saw you come in. Turns out he was a top bloke. He asked the kids if they wanted some stickers and promptly delivered a colouring in pack and stickers to two smiling young faces. Minutes later, their dad had talked their way in for a closer look We got a quick look before the crew had to turn the chopper around and head back to keep an eye on things.

Anyway back on topic, lets go over those few earlier points again, learning, observing and thinking ahead…

Learning

The day I passed my GFPT written test, I bought the Bob Tait “Private Pilot License” VFR [Day] Study Guide. Accompanied by the Aviation Theory Centre Navigation book and a set of practice exams. Sweet, all set!

Well the books had a little time to gather dust as I set my sights on my GFPT flying test and the subsequent joy flights with passengers 🙂 Then it was onto Nav training. All the while my books gathered more dust. It wasn’t till after swapping to JFC that it finally occurred to me, get studying! Since however, it seems my workload has doubled and there are another 10 balls in the air! I’m well known for not taking on a mountain and keeping it simple, not!

Well the study is in full swing now, when I can fit it in at least. It is practically every other day putting a few hours into reading a topic, then reading it again and doing the exercises. Apart from Air Law, the topic that has bored my silly is meteorology. For some reason I struggled to get into it. As a result, its retention in my little brain has been on the lacking side of things. It’s now been 4 times through the chapters covering it!

Observing

The penny dropped about a week ago. I was down at Hourglass park in Rockingham watching the planes buzz overhead. My focus should have been a little more on the little hard white ball which the opposition were attempting to hit my way. Luckily our pitcher (baseball) was on the money and not too many balls were being hit. It gave me time to notice the wind direction, the broken Cumulus clouds, some towering and changing right in from of me. Beyond them, there were Alto Stratus looking blocking out most the remaining blue.

Lets just say it got me thinking. Back in the dug out, I pulled out my iPhone, fired up the “Oz Weather” and went straight for the synoptic chart. There it was, the low pressure system! The NAIPS app confirmed the higher level winds were perfectly aligned with isogonals, with the ground level winds about 2/3’s slowed and veered (to the right). I had an “ah ha” moment…

Wow, I guess I must have taken some of this weather thing in 🙂 I enjoyed the moment, and believe me it was only a moment. “Oy! Brett, your turn to bat, hurry up!”…

He has since been heard explaining the cloud types, expected conditions and “oh, thats Verga”, blah blah blah… You get the story!

The point I’m trying to make, find a way to relate those boring things you don’t quite think you ever wanted to know and find a way to apply it and make it practical. In the case of meteorology for me, it was about Observing, observing the weather…

Thinking Ahead

This is the most important point! Start studying for your PPL exam the day you complete your GFPT, in fact start earlier. I have left it way too late! That is most evident in the subject areas which I don’t naturally have an interest. For me it was meteorology! It didn’t capture my interest.

The bad weather and CHOGM have been a god send from one perspective. It has given me more time to study. The reality is that once the next two navs are done and the one after, it is PPL flying test time! The theory test has to be done first.

At this time of your PPL adventure, you should be 100% focused on applying your developing navigation skills. Trust me you don’t need the distraction of theory going on at the same time!i

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Navigation Flying Lesson 3

The transition to Jandakot Flight Centre (JFC) has meant my flight training has picked up in pace massively.  Lets just say this the last few weeks have been pretty intense.  With the challenges at work being at an all time high, its the limited weekend time that we’ve squeezed in three nav’s so far.  I’ll covered each nav separately as they all have their own story (of course).

Sunday the 9th October was my first game of baseball for the season.  It was also the day of my first Nav flight with JFC.  Finishing our baseball game up (20-3), it was 100 mile an hour down to Jandakot to get the required pre-flight preparation completed.  Being the first Nav at a new school and it also being 2 months since the last Nav flight, I was expecting to be rusty.  … and rusty I was!

The signs of rust started from the minute I sat down with the flight planning form.  It looked somewhat different from what I have been using, but you could tell that somebody has packed a lot of effort into it.  It has the usual items, but the weight and balance, aircraft limits, aircraft/runway performance calcs and more.  In the end it took an absolute age to complete the full form, do my maps and submit my flight plan.

Wilson didn’t say too much about my excessive flight planning time, just a subtle, “Far out, you’ll need to get faster at that”.  It was the first of a long list of feedback for the day…

The next bit of feedback was, “You’ll need to get more familiar with the checklist for VH-VMH”.  Again feedback that we were probably on the “too slow side as well”.  In practice, the 20 year newer C172 has considerable more functions even though on the surface not much is different.  On startup, the big 360 cubic inch fuel injected 4 banger is quite impressive.  In V8 petrol head terms, that’s just shy of 6 litres!

Typically nav 3 is all about entering controlled airspace, using Nav aids, more non-controlled airport procedures and then a diversion.  In addition, there is an element of instrument flying, stalls, practice forced landings (PFLs) and generally anything else your instructor throws at you.  See, after this nav, it is typically the first solo nav and your instructor wants to be sure your going to come back.

Being signed out solo after this flight was always going to be a tall ask.  I’d have probably needed to walk on water to give the new flight school and instructor the confidence to sign me out solo first up.  It didn’t matter anyway.  See, Wilson was actually the instructor who signed me out for my first ever solo at Air Australia.  I remember the first check ride with him.  It resulted in nearly two pages of notes and several more lessons to address them.  This one was no different…

Today though, the notes were not about ballooning the landings or other early stage mistakes.  The notes listed diversion procedures, too much head down time, getting directions right, 1 in 60 practice, faster flight planning, non-controlled aerodrome procedures, fuel logging, radio calls and more.  The last few days of cramming the basic nav skills hadn’t been as successful as I’d thought.  Nothing beats good old practical experience!

The flight route itself was as follows:

Jandakot (YPJT) -> Armadale (ARE) -> Victor 66 (Canning Dam (CDM), Helena Reservoir (HRR), The Lakes (TLKS)) -> Clackline (CKL) -> Cunderdin (YCUN) -> Corrigin (YCIG) -> Beverly (YBEV) -> Serpentine (YSEP) -> Jandakot.

In practice though we diverted from Cunderdin to Beverly and then Beverly to Jandakot via Six South.  The flight went something like this…

With the controlled airspace requirements, we had to radio to Perth Centre Delivery while on the ground at Jandakot and request an allocated squalk code.  This was all good and we put it into the transponder before take-off.  After that we took off on runway 12 and headed straight to Armadale.  At first I was slightly confused as to where I was flying, because Armadale looks quite spreadout.  With that resolved, it was nothing unusual.

Towards Armadale we commenced our climb out.  Our target was 3500 feet.  It was at this point Wilson introduced the FMQDC check.  Frequency, Mixture, QNH, Direction and Compass (aligned).  He said these are the quick first things to get sorted, then the rest of the CLEAROFFs are easy when the time comes.  In practice the FMQDC is pretty good and setups you up well.

On climb from Armadale, you can clearly see Mount Dale in the distance.  We headed in that general direction and knew we’d easily find Canning Dam, the start of our Victor 66 route.  Perth Centre handed us off to Perth Departures and we received our Victor 66 clearance.  Turning on track at Canning Dam, we flew towards Helena Reservoir.  It was at this point I knew there was something wrong with the headings I’d written down.  Off to my right about 16 degrees was my next waypoint.  Wilson spotted it too.  He quickly worked out that I’d done my wind corrections back to front…

That is a rather bad mistake.  At least knowing the mistake meant that I could correct my flight tracks.  From Helena Reservoir the next way point was “The Lakes”.  The corrected tracks were spot on.  On approach to the end of our Victor 66 route, Perth Departures warned us of an oncoming aircraft.  We were both at our correct altitudes and he passed safely below us.   From here it was on to the Clackline NDB (Non-directional Beacon)  We spotted the towers in a paddock and then turned towards Cunderdin.  The flight to Cunderdin is simple as you literally follow the highway.

At Cunderdin we were met with several other aircraft doing IFR flights and a handful of gliders.  We joined the circuit and did a few touch and go’s.  These were my first landings with Wilson since he helped me sort my ballooned landings out 6 months earlier.  He commented that they were very much like his.  I took that as a compliment given I’ve heard him talk them up before 😉

On leaving Cunderdin Wilson called a diversion to Beverly.  Having done only one two months earlier, my revision hadn’t been so good.  The mental blank kicked in.  I got my heading approximated to Beverly and turned that way.  However my altitude and distance calcs were a little on the “very disorganized side of things”.  Wilson let me go without saying anything.  It became very obvious that I was well off track and re-calced using my protractor.  Covering good ground, I was missing nav points quickly.

To top it off, I could clearly see a big hill to my right, but was struggling to find it on the map.  In the end I got it.  The realisation was that I had now covered 15 miles and was about 5 miles off track.  My 1 in 60 meant a big left turn of 40 degrees to hit Beverly.  Within a few minutes of the 40 degree direction adjustment, Beverly came into sight directly off our nose.  Phew!

From Beverly it was directly back to Jandakot.  The flight was ok but the feedback was extensive.  It meant that I’d have a big week of revision to give Wilson the confidence to let me go solo after the next flight.  Overall I was impressed with the aircraft.  It is really well appointed, the avionics are great and it flies beautifully.  Wilson was good too and the feedback was really constructive.  I knew if I got all that nailed, the next flight would be much better than this and it was…

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A Change of Scenery

August 20 was the date of Navigation #2 and the weeks keep ticking past without successfully undertaking the important Navigation #3.  Nav 3 is a test flight to see if the student is ready to go solo, that is head out beyond the safe boundary of the Jandakot training area alone.  Sunday just gone was our next attempt at a scheduled flight.  This time it was cancelled due to poor weather, NO!!!!  After weeks of trying to line up grade 2 or higher instructor, it is a disappointing blow.  That frustration increased when the book said the next opportunity for a grade 2 was early November, no other options were available.

My frustration was distracted when BigKev saw my car and dropped in to say g’day.  He looked equally “frustrated”, evidenced by the debriefing he gave of his mornings conversation down at the aero club.  There was simply no choice, we had to take to the sky.  Today however we were going to be limited to circuits with the 1500 foot cloud base, but who cares, it was still flying 🙂

In the circuit downwind, ducking under the clouds

We readied VH-IGY and we headed out to runway 06 right.  India Golf Yankee clear for take-off.  We joined the now empty circuit and marvelled at the impressive climb and performance of this steroid enhanced Cessna 172.  Even with such a low air pressure over the field, she still popped regularly above 1000 ft per minute.  It meant the circuits were relatively quick.  With the imminent storm and particularly low cloud, it felt like we had a duck a few times to keep our heads out of the clouds.

In the words of this pilot, the landings were, “pretty average”.  It provided BigKev all the material he needed to suitably to pay me back for all the opportunities he had taken to critique BigKev’s own landings.  At one stage BigKev said “Thats not too bad, any landing you walk away from is a good landing”.  I had to remind him that the saying didn’t quite have ring, when the landing was a touch-and-go and we were now again airborne :-p

On finals for Runway 06 Right at Jandakot

On the third circuit after being cleared for a touch and go, it was soon recalled and I we were advised we were to make a full stop landing.  Not happy!  On late finals, the tower gave us the option for a touch and go.  Sweet, we took it and went for another circuit.  It was on this circuit however we were given the option of only a full stop and we landed.  At least the newest member of the Air Traffic Control team at Jandakot granted the use of 06 left to save our taxi time after landing.

Taxi’ing in, I wouldn’t realise it yet, but that was probably the last time I’d fly VH-IGY, well at least till my PPL is finished anyway.  See my frustration returned in the days after that flight as the challenge to get an instructor wasn’t resolved.  It was with that, that I took it into my own hands to resolve the instructor issue.  It sadly means heading to another flight school for the remainder of my PPL.  With a pass up and down the strip at Jandakot, I found what I was looking for.

At this point I want to say a huge thanks to Adam, Chuck and the great team at Air Australia.  I’m pretty sure if I was starting out again, Air Australia would certainly be where I’d head again.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back there after my PPL to get my aerobatics rating.

However for the next few months, Jandakot Flight Centre (JFC) will be where I’m heading to finish my PPL.  With several instructors available to work with me, we’ve got a good few bookings over the coming weeks.  So a target PPL completion timeframe of late November is quite possible.

VH-NMN and VH-VMH - 1997 Cessna 172R C172

On Saturday just gone I had my orientation at JFC and was impressed with the rigour and attention to detail.  There are comprehensive checklists for everything, a big focus on safety and the a good collection of aircraft.  The two aircraft which will see me to the end of my PPL with be VH-NMN and VH-VMH.  They are both Cessna 172R with 180hp engines. We had a good look around the fleet, a heap of single engine and twin engine aircraft.  The big daddy being the King Air B200 turboprop.

VH-NMN instrument panel

The two Cessnas were manufactured in 1997 and the cockpits are identical. Every single button between the two aircraft is exactly the same.  During the orientation we sat in the cockpit for a good while going over every button and how everything worked.  This included the impressive avionics stack.  Apart from 2 com radios, there is a GPS (Bendix King 89B), an autopilot, ADF, VOR and transponder.  Being different from what I’ve been using, we covered the lot.  The GPS however is going to take some time. I’ve downloaded the user manual and the free computer based simulator to try practice with.  The good thing is that by the time my PPL is done, I’ll also receive endorsement for using the GPS to assist with Navigation, an unexpected bonus.

For now though, the frustration has passed and I’m getting super excited about completing my PPL again.  There is just one challenge with this navigation thing, how do I do it again, it’s been 2 months…

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Mooney Formation with 4 Planes

Mooney Formation - 4 planes

Mooney Diamond Formation over Cockburn Sound

One thing about voice messages is that when you get a few and they’ve bank up, it takes for ever to listen to them all, worse still, you have to go through them in order of when they were received.  Having missed a call from BigKev, the message said it was number 12 in the list.  It had to wait…

It was now Saturday morning and I had built the courage to tackle the now 15 voice messages.  Finally at number 12, BigKev’s message “5 Mooneys, formation practice, wheels up at 4 Saturday arvo, front seat for you”.  Now feeling slightly bad that my procrastination to check the messages meant I had not returned this or a number of calls already.  Straight onto the phone to BigKev, the seat was confirmed.  Although I’d heard the message wrong and it was instead Sunday arvo.  Sweet!

Having flown my Non-Circuit practice flight earlier on the Sunday morning, I’d arrived at Jandakot a little early.  The goal was to get some good photos today, so dusting off my Canon 70-200m IS-F 2.8 lens and the 40D.  Standing outside I worked on getting a few practice shots in.  BigKev brought along his sweet 7D with a wide lens.

By the time we had briefed, we were down to 4 planes.  It was BigKev, Rohan, Andrew and Jake as the four pilots.  The plan was to depart via Freo Golf Course, up the coast to City Beach, then out over the ocean for some 15 to 30 degree turns.  BigKev was formation leader, the others in a diamond behind.  We went through a number of turns before changing positions and leads.  On the way in, we held back and snapped a few shots.

All round, great fun and once again thanks BigKev!

4 plane (Mooney) formation practice with Perth in the background

Mooney Formation - Echelon Left with Perth city in the background

Mooney Formation - 4 planes

Pilots view (BigKev) from Echelon Right

Mooney Formation - turn

Strong concentration of Andrew Eldridge in VH-JXC

Mooney Formation - 4 planes

Rohan keeps VH-SJT nice and tight in #2

Mooney Formation - 4 planes (well two of them)

Jake keeps VH-DJU tight with his formation partner inbound to Jandakot

Mooney formation flight track (187.5km, avg speed 182.9 km/h max speed 258.7 km/h)

 

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Non-controlled airport procedures – In Practice

Adam and Jane join me for an early morning flight

With a few weeks now passed from the original post, the plan then was to head down to Murray Field and do some circuit practice.  The usual challenge that I’m finding of late is that there were no instructors available to come and do the practice.  So instead, I took Jane and Adam out for a fun flight around the training area.  Adam was over visiting from the UK and it was the first time in about 8 years that he has stepped inside a small plane.  As a big boy pilot these days, his usual ride is a 767 which he flies around Europe and across the Atlantic.

To make it a little more fun, BigKev agreed (kicking and screaming, yeah right) to come flying too.  The plan, to fly around the training area and basically enjoy the morning.  Meeting BigKev out on the tarmac, SJT was behaving badly and the call was that they’d be packing up.  As we departed downwind, I heard SJT getting a clear for take-off front he tower.  So they were coming after all, problem resolved apparently.

VH-SJT set over the awesome Perth hills

When out at Serpentine, we finally got the call they had us visual and were slowly pulling us in.  Minutes later they pulled to our right then left.  Tracking down towards Mandurah we enjoyed a small show to our rear, before SJT pulled off and up with an awesome display of her underbelly.  We continued our track down over Mandurah and then up along the coast.  BigKev and Trav left us and did a boat yard arrival, while we headed to Forrestdale Lake.

Arriving from Forrestdale lake, we joined the training runway and did a few touch and go’s.  Well worth the practice when it presents itself.  Another fun morning, sure beats CTAF procedures…

However, those pesky non-controlled procedures still needed to be done.  This weekend just gone, Tommy took me out and we did some non-controlled procedure practice.  We headed out from Jandakot towards Serpentine airfield.  We arrived overhead and sussed out the correct runway.  Having reviewed the ERSA entry we descended and joined the circuit.  My radio calls were a bit on the “non optimised” variety, but Tommy said they had everything that was needed.  After a go-around there, we headed to the next non-controlled airfield nearby.

The track was to Murray Field, some 10 minutes further south near Mandurah.  Same again, we arrived overhead and then descended to join the circuit there.  This time, the runway selected didn’t have the typical left hand circuit.  When using certain runways at Murray Field, there is a requirement for a right hand circuit.  We obeyed and did a missed approach there.  After this, we departed Murray Field and headed back to Serpentine.  This time we decided on a different runway and joined accordingly.  Again, a missed approach and then it was back to Jandakot.

In summary, the flying component of the non-controlled procedures I’m feeling really comfortable with.  The details I’d found and included in my last post on this topic turned out to be most helpful when put in practice.  The area which I do need to work on a little more, is getting more efficient with the radio calls.  I think it’s time for a cheat sheet to keep on my desk at work for regular revision…

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