Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Surely not a smile!

_DSC0075.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.


_DSC0071.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Karl Surfs the Wave..

Wave Rock from the Air

_DSC0040.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wave Rock

IMG_0756.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

I wanted one last low level navigation exercise before my flight test today and so I took Karl out to wave rock yesterday. All went well. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We had a marginal day at Cott this week. The wind was off to North but
there were some good periods. I managed a fun fly and safe top landing,
It was my first fly there for a few months and I was playing it safe.
Jason was high above all on his topless as usual and Shaun turned up
late and proved that light winds that are off to the North and the drag
from the bushes was not going to stop him having fun.
I'm gearing up for my final commercial flight test, hopefully in the
next couple of weeks. Almost there now.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Close to home

IMG_0729.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

About 80Nm from Jandakot the cloud came back, there was some lightening and thunder off in the distance. Cloud base dropped to 3500ft before the hills and then kept dropping as I got closer to the coast. By the time I got to mount dale I was at 3000ft and the cloud was just above me. I was flying with my map in my hand and keeping an exact track of my position, I know the area well and knew that mount dale was the highest point and so felt comfortable as I had at least 1000ft of terrain clearance. As I headed towards canning dam the cloud base lowered further and I ended up at 2300ft to remain out of cloud as I crossed over the last of the escarpment. The whole time I was prepared to do a 180 and either request airways clearance to go over it or divert somewhere else if required, but my luck held and I made it from one blue hole to another until finally it was time to descend at six south for a return to Jandakot. Inbound to Jandakot it was getting dark because of the cloud and I was worried that there was going to be low cloud and rain at the airfield, but other than having to dodge a few scattered clouds at around 1500ft on the way in I was lucky. I got a left base onto 24 and landed a few minutes before the heavens opened up and all the runway lights came on.

It was an amazing trip, I have learnt so much and my confidence in my abilities is much improved. I got to hone my navigation and airspace skills, put real operational planning into action. Learn to take forecasts with a pinch of salt, but also to know my limitations and operate within them for safe and relaxed flying. I am really glad that I did my night rating as that really does test your ability to navigate accurately and gives a whole new understanding of terrain elevations and the use of navigational instruments to give a much clearer, bigger picture resulting in amazing situational awareness.

I have a visit to the ophthalmologist on Monday as the final part of my class one medical. Then on Tuesday i start my final testing which should culminate in my commercial flight test in the next couple of weeks. I am almost at the end of a long but very rewarding road.

Scattered Cloud

IMG_0718.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

About 100Nm from Kalgoorlie the cloud broke up and the showers vanished. Blue skies for a pleasant flight across the wheat belt. The winds were all over the place with my ground speed varying from 80knots to 105knots and the ASI jumping all over the place. I kept low as I had the best average speed.

See and Avoid

IMG_0705.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

I passed a few clouds like this one that I gave a wide berth. The rain clouds were easy to spot and avoid. Even when there was one on one side I had clear air in front and often blue skies on the other side.

Leaving Kalgoorlie

IMG_0703.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

There was a mixture of broken and scattered cloud with obvious storm cells in places marked by black clouds and heavy rain showers. I knew I had plenty of fuel and heaps of alternates available if at any point I had to turn back or divert so I kept out of the rain and flew from one blue patch to another. Often i was passing rain and lightening a few miles off to one side of another, but I always had a clear path in front.

Super Pit

IMG_0700.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

I flew past the Super Pit on the way in and wasted no time getting onto the ground as it was black and ominous looking to the west. Shortly after landing a heavy rain shower and some thunder signalled a storm cloud overhead. I refueled and waited an hour on the ground for it to pass.

Approaching Kalgoorlie

IMG_0691.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

About 100Nm from Kalgoorlie the cloud started to appear, relatively low with a base around 4500ft, but high enough for me as I was still taking advantage of the lighter winds down low. Evidence of mining started to appear everywhere.

Leaving Warburton

IMG_0676.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

On the ground at Warburton there was a light south easterly, as I climbed out to my planned altitude tracking west for Leonora I watched my ground speed decay. I found that if I stayed low I could keep my ground speed above 100knots. This meant Kalgoorlie was now in range. I flew to Kalgoorlie never getting above 2000ft AGL and often around 1000ft to take advantage of the reduced headwinds.


IMG_0670.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

On descent into Warburton

IMG_0667.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

A very isolated place.

Clear Skies

IMG_0659.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

Half way to Warburton the skies cleared and it was blue above with camel filled desert below.

The Olgas from above

IMG_0647.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

My track to Warburton took me just to the right of the Olgas.

Yalura from above

IMG_0643.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

This is the tourist resort near the rock operated by voyages..

Leaving Yalura

IMG_0644.JPG, originally uploaded by hangflyer.

My first glimpse of a reddish rock, by the time I left the cloud was breaking up nicely and I was able to cruise at 6500ft

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blue Holes!

A blue hole just opened up, I'll only get as far as Warburton today, but
it is a start. Leaving now!

Met update

I just spoke to the met office. The band of overcast cloud extends about
80Nm west of here at around 2200ft before it starts to become broken.
At the moment it is CAVOK at Warburton, but then there is the likelihood
of thunderstorms and rain on the way to Leonora. Ground level is up to
4000ft west of here and below the cloud level, the cloud is about 3000ft
thick and it would be clear if I could get above it. Whilst I really
want to get out of here and I am tempted to try a skud run to the west
to the edge of the cloud, all my training tells me it would be very
dangerous and illegal if I get myself into cloud. If I had my instrument
rating and an IMC rated aircraft I could just climb above the cloud, but
I don't and so I not going anywhere today. The met office describe the
cloud as a very unusual localised phenomenon that they have not seen
here for 5 years. They are optimistic that it is thinning and should
break up tomorrow, they are aware that this has been there expectation
for the last few days, but the cloud is not playing by the usual rules.
To the west there are thunderstorms and another trough coming this way,
if I can get out of here tomorrow I may well end up getting stuck in
Warburton or Leonora for a couple of days, but anywhere would be a
welcome change at the moment. There is only so much to see and do here
and I have done it all now and I want to leave.


Overcast at 1800ft again this morning and the forecast calls for the
cloud to break up at 6.30pm. Nooooo! I'm heading down to the airport
anyway, I know the cloud breaks up west of here, if I see a blue hole
this morning I'll take it. 20 knot crosswinds today too.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A glimmer of hope

The tops of the Olgas are still shrouded in cloud, but on the horizon
far to the North West there is a thin bright light that seems to
indicate a break in the overcast conditions. It is hopefully the
scattered cloud arriving late for its lunchtime appointment. Conditions
look good for a flight to Warburton in the morning. From Warburton cloud
is forecast to be overcast above 7000ft which is OK with me, there are
isolated thunderstorms in the area, but I have enough fuel to go around
them and if I need to I am prepared to land at one of the strips along
the way to wait it out. If I can leave here by 10am I should be at
Warburton by 1pm, allowing an hour for refuelling I should be in Leonora
by 5pm, about an hour before last light. It looks like Leonora will be
my next overnight stop and my last before returning to Jandakot. I just
booked a 200 litre drum of Avgas an Leonora for $563 (ouch) I think I
will need about 140 litres when I get there so I will have a small store
there if I ever head back that way. Fingers crossed when the sun comes
up in the morning there is mostly blue sky.

Avgas Worries

I am hoping to get out of here tomorrow, if the overcast low cloud
breaks I will have a chance to go somewhere. Warburton is in easy range
no matter that the winds are doing, but after that the nearest fuel is
Kalgoorlie, and that is only in range for me with no wind or a tail
wind. With the current headwinds I would be arriving with less than
30mins of fuel in the tanks, not an option. Forrest would be in range
heading south, but they have no Avgas at the moment and are waiting for
a delivery. The same goes for Leonora, Linster and Laverton, since BP
pulled out there is no longer Avgas on tap anywhere. Leonora have
emergency drums available at $542 each, but that is akin to highway
robbery. I might have to revert to my original plan of heading towards
coober pedy and then along the south coast.

The weather looks better along the south coast today, but still marginal
towards Kalgoorlie. Decisions, Decisions.

It just occured to me that by going via coober pedy I am adding about an
extra 5hrs flying time to my trip and an extra nights accommodation, I
would expect that fuel is going to average around $2 a litre crossing
the Nullarbour and that I am going to pay $90 for a nights accommodation
in a motel somewhere. So it's around $500 to go that way. Ok, now that I
think about it the drum of Avgas does not look so bad. I can cut the
corner back to Perth via Wyalkatchem to save more time.

Weather update

The forecast calls for the low cloud to break up after lunch here, but
it now has the low cloud and thunderstorms west of here. Another night
here I think.