A Trip to Birdsville – Summary

By the time the trip was done, we’d flown 1644 nautical miles, with 16.1 hours of flight time accrued. It was a long trip, wrapped into a few very short days, but it was definitely fun, and the most travelling in a small aircraft I’ve ever done.

Grumpy Cat:

Ive been asked a few times, “Why Grumpy Cat?” Mostly because he’s small, compact, and can fit on the dashboard of the plane without causing any drama. And it’s much easier to take photos of something else than try to frame a selfie. 

In my field, it’s not uncommon to hear people talking about “Rubber Ducky Debugging”, which is the act of explaining a problem to a rubber duck and solving it by talking about it out loud. I think the same concepts apply in aviation, as i know a few people who fly with trinkets or stuffed animals in the plane. A friend of mine has a duck, and an Australian aviation vlogger has a cow called milkshake.

And he probably matches my personality sometimes 😀 He also made some new friends on this trip.

Royal Flying Doctors Service:

One of the things that was common to the towns we were in was that there were constant references to the Royal Flying Doctors, normally by way of donation boxes, or memories of the support that had been received. It’s pretty safe to say that the services provided by the Royal Flying Doctors are critical to the survivability and sustainability of these outback towns; otherwise, you’d be travelling by car for days to the nearest major hospital, with an incredibly low survival rate. I highly recommend you check out one of their visitor centres if you are ever in the area, and make sure to donate.

Lessons learnt / Things I’d do differently:
1. I learned that flying 7 hours in one day is achievable, but I think it comes down to circumstance and the weather. The last 1.5 hours home on the final day were a bit rough with bumps. I don’t think I’d have been able to tolerate 7 hours of that – And if I had had a passenger that remotely got airsick / motion sick, it definitely wouldn’t have been possible.

2. I overpacked and on the wrong things. I had more cold-weather gear than warm-weather gear. I could have easily gotten away with more short-sleeve shirts and my jacket rather than long sleeve shirts that were too hot to wear. Same for shoes. 

3. I think I went overboard with the number of electronic devices on the plane, but it’s hard to tell – Everything worked as expected. I never had to revert to any of the backup devices. But I expect that in an emergency, you’d want everything you could possibly have.

4. I’m glad I had company for the trip. I mentioned I was going to do it solo originally, but just having someone else in the plane made a big difference – Even if we were both comfortable with long periods of silence, just having someone there helped.

5. I had a second phone with me with a Telstra chip in it, but if I was going again, I’d chuck a Telstra esim into both my iPad and my iPhone to not have to try and mess around with the other phone.

6. Id make sure I had tested the equipment I threw on at the last minute – Taking a headset where the mic didn’t work wasn’t a great outcome. Same with the tie down rope.

7. I found once or twice that I missed an item on the pre-flight inspection and had to go back and re-do it. – I’m always used to doing it at Archerfield, and I have a set of habits associated with that. Working out a way to make those stick when away is something I need to think about.

8. I absolutely, unequivocally underestimated the sheer volume of flies in the outback – I am very glad other people were better prepared then me.

(I’ll likely come back and add to this list as I think of more)

Heres some of my favourite shots from the trip:

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