Since gaining my navigational endorsement a few years ago, I’ve done quite a few trips north and south, but other than on my nav practical exam, i haven’t really ventured west. Additionally I hadn’t really been to many of the other local aerodromes in the region, so Daniel and I decided it’d be fun to take a plane for the day and play airport hopscotch, and see how many airfields we could hit in one day, whilst heading west. Daniel also wanted to fly over his house and see what it looked like from above, so this all sounded like the great makings of a flight
My initial flight plan had a staggering 14 places on it, and originally saw us getting home around 2-3pm in the after noon. It initially looked like this below, but like everything, a plan never survives its first encounter with the enemy.
YBAF (Archerfield) -> Daniels House -> YKCY (Kilcoy) -> YTLH (Toogoolowah) -> YKRY (Kingaroy) -> YCCA (Chinchilla) -> YJBR (Jimbour) -> YBOK (Oakey) -> YBWW (Wellcamp) -> YTWB (Toowoomba) -> YWCK (Warrick) -> YSPE (Stanthrope) -> YBOA (Boonah) -> YAMB (Amberley) -> YBAF (Archerfield.
I hadn’t done a western departure out of Archerfield before, so I had to read up in the ERSA and the OnTrack guide for the Archerfield Local requirements for a western departure. I found it was pretty much the same as the rest, however you have to nominate a outbound track in the taxi / take off request. Coincidently based on the map, Daniels House was on track 280 from Archerfield, which is straight up wind from Runway 28L/R which was the active runway when we were filling up the plane and getting ready to go. As usual however, murphy law decided to step in, and the runway had changed direction to 10L/R which meant a nice long taxi to the other end of the airfield.
We took the Red Sling – 8592 – out for this trip. Not my favourite Sling as I always seem to get something wrong with it, and just can’t get my landings right in it, unlike the white one which i normally manage to get it pretty spot on. But the white one was close to being out of maintenance hours so the Red one it was. I did the usual pre-flight, filled it with fuel, made sure i’d left copies of plans etc with the flight school, got all the kit stowed, Daniel arrived and then we were ready to go.
We were fortunate enough to be given the big runway -10L- with a right hand turn out, which made life a little bit easier. After a long taxi, A hop skip and a jump later, and we were airborne. We had quite a bit of headwind so we were airborne pretty quickly, and once at a suitable height we made our right hand turn, and started heading over to Daniels place. On the way, conveniently we flew right over the top of my house, but Daniel wasn’t quick enough to get the camera out, so no photos of my place were taken. A minute or two later, and we we were overhead Daniels place. Krissy (Daniel’s wife), had the kids (Munchkin and Firefly) outside waiting for us to circle overhead, so we got some photos of the house, and the kids, and Krissy took this video of the kids waving up at us. Thats Firefly saying “Uncle Nat” as she waved :).
After waggling goodbye to everyone, we picked up our course to the first destination which was Kilcoy. There were some big mountains and some lowish cloud on the way, so i opted not to fly a direct route, and head more towards Dayboro before turning in. Ive been to Kilcoy before and have done a Touch-&-Go in a Savannah out of Archerfalls for a fly in, and wasn’t hugely comfortable with the field. Im a bit sheltered in that I’ve been fortunate enough to always fly from big runways and strips, so Kilcoy is tiny compared to what I’m used to. But I won’t improve if i don’t make the effort, so i joined downwind on a left hand circuit for runway 27. The Touch-&-Go was relatively painless, other then the strip feeling quite bumpy. I remember thinking afterwards that the length of the strip wasn’t what as bad as I’d talked it up to be, and that i had plenty of room.
Next stop was Toogoolowah, a private strip used for Parachuting operations. Id contacted the owner earlier, and had been giving permission to perform a Touch-&-Go on the field on our way through. Toogoolowah is pretty close to Kilcoy so we were there in only a few moments. After overflying the field, i elected not to touch and go there. I didn’t like where the jump plane was parked in relation to the runway, and it looked far to bumpy for my likings. I instead elected to do a Prec-Search type fly over of the field so i could see up close what it was like. I set myself up on final, and went down to 500ft and elected not to continue, I just didn’t like the looks of it in the slightest, so we climbed back up, and headed off to Kingaroy which was the next destination on the plane.
One of the things I wanted to see on my trip, was the Power Station at Taronga, as everyone mentions that its a good reference point to know. You definitely can’t miss it on the way out there. Its big, with lots of power lines heading towards it, so its defaintely something ill be sure to keep in mind when my PPL flight test comes up. We got to Kingaroy 20 minutes later. We called inbound on the field, at the same time a cherokee or a Mooney (can’t remember which), called inbound, and after working out where he was, we elected to follow him in to Runway 16. We had left, what I thought was a reasonable distance behind him before we turned in left base, however as the grass taxiway was closed due to rain, he had to backtrack down main runway. If we had still been on downwind, I would have just extended, but as we were on final by this point, a go around was in order. So around we went and did it again. This time we had no issues on runway 16, and another Touch-&-Go Later we were on our way to Chinchilla.
The trip to Chinchilla was relatively long and uneventful, we had to descend from my planned height of 5500 due to lower cloud, but that was about the extent of issues we had on that leg. It took us approximately 60 minutes to get there, and so we overflew the field, ascertained the runway direction based on the windsock, and joined a left downwind on Runway 14. This Touch-&-Go went off without a hitch, and a short time later, we were airborne once again. I stuffed up the nav part here, as I thought Id already set the EFIS ( GPS ) to our next destination, but hadn’t, so Istarted turning around to head back towards runway 14 after we took off, all the while while Daniel was looking at me like I’m an idiot because I was heading in the wrong direction. But these things happen, so I flew the circuit again, and then we headed off to Jimbour.
Jimbour is a historical listed station, you can read more about it here, which conveniently has a private runway attached to it. It has an amazing gardens, is a huge heritage listed house, and is quite spectacular. There are weddings, and opera’s and other special events hosted there quite regularly so its quite an awesome sight. I had already chased up what I needed to gain permission to land there, and fortunately had been there before on my flight review, so I knew what to expect.
On the way to Jimbour, I made the executive decision that we weren’t continuing with the longer section of the flight. I was starting to feel a bit weary, and with 1.5hrs still to go to get home, I knew there was no way I could safely do another 3hrs to visit everywhere else we planned on going, and we were already behind my planned time, due to winds and the few go arounds.
The landing at Jimbour was without a doubt horrible. We were slow, and low, and I hadn’t planned my base / final turns or heights properly, so it was all just wrong. We bounced good and proper. But we got down, and taxied over to the hanger. it was great to get out of the plane, stretch the legs, and have lunch. After finding a small section of the property where i could actually get phone reception, i got a hold of Leah at PFA, and let everyone know where we were, and what our next plans were.
Whilst we were on final for the runway, a car drove underneath us on a road on the way in, I’m not sure if they saw us, but Im sure they wouldn’t have been expecting to see us heading straight for them.
We ran into a couple who were touring the gardens, and had a quick chat to them about the plane and flying in, and travel etc, and then we decided that we should make our way home. We got back to the plane to find that in the heat a few of the other electronics had overheated. My iPad wasn’t happy, and nor was the go pro, and my phone was all but dead too. I was a bit concerned at this point. Whilst I had a physical flight plan printed, it still had the original plan path on it, and not the shorter route we wanted to go home. I think i should have planned this better. I think I had a bit too much reliance on using ozrunways than I should have. I had paper maps, and paper ERSA etc with me, but I hadn’t drawn up everything that i normally do for a long trip. Thankfully once we took everything out of the sun, turned the big fan on at the front of the plane, the devices cooled down, and started playing the game again.
The new route home, had us heading through Oakey Airspace. I read up earlier that Oakey sometimes allows civilian use of the airfield, when they are closed and had submitted a written request to do a Touch-&-Go on the runway on our way through, but sadly as they were already in stand-down for Christmas, no one answered my request. Once airborne from Jimbour, I contacted Brisbane Centre, to make sure that Oakey was de-activated as expected, and thankfully it was, so we headed straight into the Oakey zone. We had a massive headwind at this point, 40knotts going against us so we were travelling slow. We were listening on Centre to chatter between ATC and an IFR flight out of Kingaroy, and they thought we were a helicopter as we were only doing 60knotts over the ground. We hung our heads in shame, had a bit of a laugh, and continued on.
We got to Oakey, and got some good photos over the field. VH-PRG was doing IFR instrument approaches at Oakey, making use of the ILS equipment whilst the military weren’t using it, so we kept out of their way, whilst we flew over and took some photos. Next step was to fly over WellCamp, the new airport at Toowoomba. The landing fee’s for planes at WellCamp start at $100 so there was no chance that I was going to stop there, but I wanted to see what the new aerodrome was like. It was very big, and slick, but still having facilities constructed. From WellCamp it was a small flight over to Toowoomba, where we had another Touch-And-Go planned.
After seeing the windsock at Toowoomba, I elected to descend on the dead side, and join crosswind. Whilst I was joining cross wind, VH-ZWY, the 172 I regularly hirer, made an inbound call with a student from PathFinder Aviation and Hensen, doing a RPL nav trip. I didn’t recognise the voices at first but then heard across the radio “Hello Nathan”, so I figured it was someone i knew in plane, and then I recognised Hensen’s voice. Once we’d completed our Touch-&-Go, I said goodbye to them, as we headed over to Amberley, our last overfly on our way back. We got some great photos Toowoomba, and the Toowoomba Range as we flew over.
Once again, I got in touch with Brisbane Centre to confirm that Amberley was deactivated,which it still was. Thankfully for this, as I really didn’t want to have to divert around. We overflew Amberley, circled above and took some nice shots of the C17’s and F18’s out on the line.
We continued on to ipswich, where we flew a quick circle over our old high school – Ipswich Grammar – and a few minutes later we were at Goodna, which is the western entry point back to Archerfield. I grew up near Goodna, and spent a lot of time in that area, so it was really weird to see things from the air. So many things I didn’t know existed out there, and its amazing how big some areas are.
By the time, we got to Goodna, Id grabbed the ATIS already and found out that the 10’s were still the active runway and inbound call later, and Tower put onto runway 10R. Thankfully my final landing for the day was spot on. I was definitely getting worn out by this point, and made a silly mistake by asking for Taxi Clearance on the Tower freq rather than Ground, but these things happen. A long taxi back to the terminal building and were home. We cleaned out the plane, paid for our flight time, and then wound down a bit in the terminal building.
I logged a total of 5.1 hours for this trip, with a distance of just shy of 400nm (780km) travelled. It was a great adventure, and great to spend time doing things I enjoy with a good mate. I definitely think I could have done better preparation with respect to paper charts and plans, and that I should have anticipated that I wouldn’t be able to make my original plan, which is something i’ll work on for next time. Either way, it was still a good day out and I have a lot more local airfields that I can say I’ve been to. I found out after I got home that my GoPro had well and truly carked it. None of the video from the day apart from a random 30 minute period had saved. Thankfully we had lots of photos.
The entry in my log book looked like this
YBAF – YKCY – YTLH – YKRY – YCCA – YJBR – YBOK- YBWW – YTWB – YAMB – GON – YBAF