Our trip to AusFly 2015, Sept

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Narromine, which is just to the west of Dubbo played awesome host again to AusFly this year. The Merit Aviation team (Sheldon and I) flew up to the event separately. Sheldon took off in the C172 XP from Moruya going via Canberra to pick up Tim and Graeme (past and present students of Merit Aviation). The weather out of Moruya was beeeeaaaudiful! Not so the case upon reaching Canberra where special VFR was required and requested due cloud.

Once landed the guys piled their stuff inside the C172 just in time to avoid the massive thunderstorm and pouring rain that drenched them running back to the GA Gate to wait out the rain… so about 2 hours of hanging out and discussing the impending trip was done in Canberra. When the weather cleared they set off, low level most the way (but above 500 feet), weaving around clouds as was required from time-to-time. Tim did a great job of getting Sheldon and Graham there!

Tim-and-narromine

As Sheldon arrived with Tim and Graham in Narromine this was the view & this is Tim pictured with BDG at the end of our trip (safely returned to Canberra).

Nice and green was our arrival into Narromine, with most of the AusFly attendees due to arrive over the following 2 days.

arrival

Yay! We’re here!

Thanks to Graham we stayed practically under the flight path for runway 29 at his parent’s house: Mary and John. Staying under a flight path is actually preferred when you’re a bit crazy about planes, so it was perfect for all of us! Mary and John fed us up on gorgeous Thai green curry and sticky date pudding (sounds like an odd combo was it was incredibly tasty!).

The next day the air show display was due to run from 1-3pm so we had lots of time to wander around all the impressive old war planes on display, as well as marvel at some pretty impressive experimental builds. How do people find that many hours in their life to build a plane!??

I had a date with Jill Bailey, the Operations Manager of RA Aus to do the examination for my RA Aus Instructor Rating conversion. So after a couple of theory briefs on the whiteboard within the café area of the Narromine Aero Club (yes, there were a few bods listening intently from café tables to my rendition of the Effects of Controls and how to fly Straight and Level, whilst Jill did her best to be the ‘learned’ student), we headed off flying with boxes ticked.

We flew a fair way north of Narromine to ensure we were well out of the way of all the traffic travelling in for AusFly, (with a few guys on the ground with hand-helds doing a bang-up job of air traffic control)! Jill and I found ourselves having way too much fun and we lost track of time a bit practicing forced landings north of Dubbo and became ‘locked out’ of Narromine airspace when the Temporary Restricted Area went into affect for the air show. So we landed at Dubbo, and Jill fished our only money out of her pocket ($8 in change). We had enough to afford French toast (without bacon), but I sweet talked the café staff with our story of distress and woe and she added bacon to our glorious French toast that we split and shared.

Did I pass I my flight test I hear you screaming … even though we were stranded at Dubbo for 2 hours??!! Yessssssss!

I am now able to take students up in RA Aus registered aircraft; “toot toot”! And Jill and I have a very memorable story from Narromine AusFly 2015, one which unfortunately includes me missing the air show. I’ve never seen an air show so I was actually really looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to see one soon (yaaaa, like in November at Warbirds Downunder in Temora) where Jill has kindly invited me and my family to stay with her at her place. A hanger on the airfield! Incredibly awesome of her – but what else was she going to do whilst I had her cornered at Dubbo Airport!??

That’s Jill on the right.

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So once the TRA lifted we made it back into Narromine.

Meanwhile…when the TRA was in place here are a couple of the sights that AusFly attendees (actually in Narromine at the time!) saw.

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After the air show demonstration was finished and Jill and I had FINALLY landed back in Narromine, Graham and Sheldon had an opportunity to take the Foxbat out for a spin.

avenger

They got a couple of great shots and vids high above the aerodrome.

Sundown and a couple of relaxing ales later from the club house we headed back to Mary and John’s to enjoy some awesome (and well earned) hospitality and relaxation time. Bring on the BBQ scotch fillet John – medium rare please!

Saturday morning, we decided to set off for home before the air show started, departing just before the TRA came into effect again – and we were off in the nick of time. Our route home was Narromine to Moruya,  via Canberra (dropping Graham and Tim off on the way).

Graham kept me company on the journey in the Foxbat this time (thank goodness because I am pretty over my offline Spotify playlist – note to self – update playlist!). I spent the morning teaching Graham how to plan a nav (the old fashioned way with charts, pencils, protractors and a whizz wheel), except we didn’t have a whizz wheel or protractor handy so we substituted with Oz Runways. Our route: YNRM-YPKS-YCWR-YSCB. And then I would fly on to Moruya by myself.

Graham did a beautiful job of keeping us on track, with me as his ‘helpful’ navigator. Some practice CCTs en-route at Parkes and a small (pee) pit-stop in Cowra, we made it to the 40 DME mark north west of Canberra after 2.5 hours of flight, where we called inbound at 7,500 feet. Graham had never flown into Canberra before within the control steps being radar vectored by Canberra Approach. So it was a great first experience for him. Not many VFR pilot know that you don’t always have to come inbound via the VFR points and under the lower limit steps. And I think it is good practice to come inbound through the control steps and under CTA direction if you can, and if they are not too busy. It’s brilliant for practicing your radio calls! Anyway, it was Graham’s first time flying the Foxbat into Canberra so I looked after the radio for him and he just flew the plane according to our instructions from the tower.

Coming in via the Telstra Tower waypoint we lined up perfectly on runway 12 and Graham did an awesome landing for his first straight in approach. He loved the experience so much so that I got a pretty excited high-five once we were clear of runways.

So Graham ended up being my first student as a FULLY qualified RA Aus instructor. Thanks Graham for your confidence – I hope it wasn’t too terrifying for you!

graham

This is us at YSCB GA parking post arrival.

Nothing else to note for the rest of the trip home to Moruya. All went off without a hitch and I slept like a baby that night! What a great trip. See you next year AusFly!