I had the pleasure of flying yesterday with my new friend, Jack Shiner, owner of Red Dirt Seeds, a company that purchases native seeds from aboriginal gatherers and sells them for reseeding mined-out areas. His beautiful lead-gray and orange Glasair (built at my home airport of Arlington, Wash State) lives in a hangar at the top of his 100 acres, in the shadow of the Porungurup Mountains, Western Australia. While pre-flighting, he explained how practical this aircraft is for getting him to remote mines and aboriginal communities and how easy it is, in this pastoral countryside, to land just about anywhere. Sounds like the way aviation should be.
After an easy startup, we taxied 600 meters downhill, through the oat fields, to the dirt runway. With a 30 foot incline, it made sense to takeoff from the far end, regardless of winds. Our flight took us north to stop for a "cuppa" with Jack's mate, Pleun. A Dutch native, Pleun immigrated to Western Australia thirty years ago and has created a unique fly-in destination. With his own hands, he built a 5-story windmill for grinding his own Spelt wheat (sold at local restaurants), then added a 16th century replica Dutch house, restaurant, and guest rooms. Of course there is a large hangar with room for his Jabiru, several vehicles and a corner for the band (he plays the sax and has an impressive assortment of instruments). There are currently two decent runways at this little piece of paradise called "The Lily," and he is planning to put in a third. The most recent acquisition is a DC3 purchased in bits (all the bits, Pleun assured me) which will be restored into a unique guest accomodation.
Our return flight was delayed slightly by a rain squall pushing through. With the mountains and maritime exposure, weather changes in minutes here. After a bit more chitchat, the rain had swept by
and we were off again to Albany.
What a great day swapping flying tales with fellow pilots in Australia and exploring by air - the best way to really see the world!
On the way home, we detoured to go waterskiing along the coast line. If not for the strong prop wash, I would have opend the door and dipped my toes in, we were that low. Really!