Thursday, April 2, 2009

All VFR pilots know you cannot fly each day for two consecutive weeks without getting weathered in. That even happens in Australia and our travel worn group are stranded on Fraser Island while our final destination is receiving more rain than has fallen in a long time. Lifeis difficult when limited to VFR flight, see picture to understand the degree of our hardships.Tomorrow we expect to return to Toowoomba completing our Australian Red Centre tour.
We stopped at Fraser Island for R&R after two weeks of hard work. When our tour bus failed to start and 40 people were about to be left stranded in the sand, Reg's farm boy skills kicked in and wielding a trusty tire wrench, he encouraged the starter to return to its purpose and duty.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

G day Mate!

“A typical day in the life of a GA pilot & crew in the outback of a Flying Australia Safari.”

Breakfast at 7:00 AM, not to much coffee, we were warned some days flying time could be 4 hours. Then off to the pilot briefing (work, work, work). The briefing usually takes place by the pool or outside in the clear desert air. Our lead pilot Ray will review the routes, the altitudes & the day’s weather. We will also go over the radio frequencies, ERSA (flight supplement) & any points of interest along the route. A typical flying day back home we go from place to place to get there quickly, here we go from waypoint to waypoint to see the country. Speed is not that important. At 8:30 – 9:00 AM we are off to the airport. Once at the airport, we complete our walk around, pre flight & fuel (work, work, work). Janice & I are off first in VH-TWB a 172 because it is the slowest aircraft. Then Marjie & Harold are next with VH-CEV a 172 SP. Last leaving is Addie, Ray & Clare with VH-JCU a 182 RG. Run up complete GPS set, maps ready, and wheels up around 9:30.

Once airborne, we report to Ray giving our position, altitude & time to next waypoint. We fly the airplane, enjoy the view & take photos. Approaching our destination we review our airport diagram, overfly the airport, check the winds & attempt a beautiful landing. Secure the airplane, unload bags & wait for pickup. To the hotel we go, Clare checks us in, hands us all our keys, we throw our bags in our rooms.

Marjie has acquired a taste for the local beer “cascade light” & her pucker factor reaches an 8 until she has one, so off to the pub we go first thing. Now we know why the Aussies love their beer, it is a matter of SURVIVAL! The temp varies between 35 & 40 degrees.
Janice’s pucker factor also reaches an 8 until she has an afternoon nap so she will disappear for a few hours.

Our fearless leader Clare keeps us all organized, we follow him closely, & try no to be cheeky (some have to try harder than others). There may be an activity booked for the afternoon, a town tour, museum, afternoon at the pool, star gazing or a sunset dinner in the desert. The next day we will have activities to choose, camel rides at sunrise, flying Doctors, shopping (yes we have massaged our credit cards & helped out the Australian economy), opal mines, hiking, didgeridoo lessons & show (which was outstanding) & much more.

We all meet for supper around 7:00 pm, & have tried Camel, Emu & Kangaroo, each having their own distinctive taste, very well prepared, proportions way to large. Our shitters are expanding daily. Our fearless leader Clare prepares us for the next day. We all focus on him with big round eyes & listen with anticipation. What will we see & do tomorrow?

As you can see from our pilot’s we are having the time of our lives exploring Australia by air & land, meeting new mates, learning a new culture, seeing so many new places & things.
We usually stay 2 nights in one place & then fly the next. We sleep peacefully.

Back in a tick
Janice, Reg, Marjie, Harold, Addie, Clare, Ray
This is a group of about 30 head of Santa Gertrudis Bull, cows & calves that have about 3000 acres of pasture.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

These are The Olgas with Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the background. In real time we are able to see Mount Conner another 60 miles to the east but that detail only comes out with enlargement and some imagination.
Approaching Uluru from the East - VH-TWB

Harold & Marjie's trusty 172 taken from VH-JCU

Reg & Janice enroute to Coober Pedy.

The walk up Uluru, the white streak is remnants of rubber soles.Climbing is discouraged as when people fall and die, tradition has it, that their soul remains on the Rock. The Aboriginal people prefer not to have foreign soles/souls on their rock.
Just in case you thought we did not have time for meals. This is "Sounds of Silence" under the Desert Stars, followed by a short Astronomy lesson.

When the Cessna's aren't working this is our alternate mode of transport. There reportedly are a million Camels in Australia, most of them feral, supposedly more than in the Middle East.

This is the bar at William Creek, population 2. In Australia all communities have a pub, no pub no community.Note the various articles of clothing left behind by Patrons, Bra's do double duty as collection containers for Brush fire victims.

The break away hills, near Coober Pedy. The industry at Coober Pedy is primarily Opal mining.

Flight briefing Aussie Style by the pool but minus the beer.
Departing Ayers Rock Airdrome, Toowoomba (destination) is 1200 nautical miles to the east; looks like this will be a long pull.

VH-TWB showing Uluru in its glory!
The Olgas are about 20 NM from Uluru (Ayers rock) flight restrictions here discourage over flights, taken from VH-TWB.Some information on the religious history of the Olgas can be found at
Janice providing a close up of the Olgas.