Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aussie Airtime

Had a GREAT time flying "Down Under" today.

I reached out online to "Leighton" from the Hunter Valley Recreational Flying Club located at Cessnock Aerodrome in the great wine region of Hunter Valley, about two hours north of Sydney. I arranged to meet them at their monthly BBQ (they omitted telling me that I first had to solve the Rubiks puzzle of how to find them).

Following the smell of auto-gas, I did eventually turn up in time for some Aussie sausage sandwiches cooked on the Barbie. And without once driving on the wrong side of the road - of course it's all the wrong side of the road here!

One of the CFI's, Dave, gave me the grand tour, showing me his great little Savannah VG with the Rotax 912.

Then club secretary, Phil, showed me how the Aussie maps read.

Finally, it was time to go fly with Keith, a dedicated and patient CFI, in their Tecnam Sierra. A plane I know well, having flown one from Palm Beach, FL to Arlington, WA. several years ago.

Foreign air, familiar airplane.

We flew over the beaches of the Central Coast, circling Nobby and Norah lighthouses, admiring huge Lake Macquarie, crossing "The Entrance," and on to the Watagan Mountains - gorgeous scenery!

They fly their pattern here at 1,ooo feet agl, but do their crosswind midfield. Otherwise, Aussie flying is very similar to US flying. Sure, there are regs and the fuel is expensive, but the spirit of aviation prevails for those who gotta fly. As we flew back to the aerodrome, we observed the F1 freeway at a complete standstill. Been there, done that. I'll take airways over freeways any day.

And on the way home, I saw my first herd of kangaroos.

A perfect day!