Matt and I have been talking for a few months about doing a small trip somewhere just to practise our navigation skills, and to get some scenery that’s different to the local training area, and we finally had the opportunity on Sunday to make a trip from Archerfield -> Kilcoy -> Sunshine Coast -> Coloundra and back to Archerfield. I hadn’t flown a 172 since my RPL test, and Matt hadn’t flown recently either, so the flight school asked us both to do a quick check flight with them prior us taking the plane on our own again. I did mine a few weeks ago, and Matt knocked his out on Saturday. The plan was for Matt to fly the YBAF – YKCY – YBSU leg, where we would stop and have lunch, and then I’d fly the YBAF – YCDR – YBAF run home. We were taking VH-ZWY, a 2000s Cessna 172S.
The weather on Saturday was a bit cactus with cloud and rain, so I wasn’t sure if we were going to get to go or not, but I woke up Sunday morning and the weather looked good. I went to print off my flight plan and weather forecasts for the day, only to find Oz-runways on my iPad was crashing on opening. Murphy’s law hit me, as I was only thinking the night before that I should back up my aeroplane configs and plans from Oz-runways in case I have issues, and then sure enough I had to delete it and reload it to get it to work. So I quickly reloaded the app, downloaded the databases, entered all the W&B, Fuel, Rego etc information for the plan, and printed out my route. Matt uses Avplan and we both were taking paper charts (which I had drawn up the night before), so I wasn’t worried about getting lost, or not having at-least one copy of the plan, but just a tad frustrating.
We got down to Archerfield about 8.30, a good hour and a half before our flight as we wanted to chat about the route we were taking and as it would be the planes first flight for the day it needed a thorough pre-flight. After signing the plane out at FlightOne, we took the covers off VH-ZWY, set our equipment up, called up for fuel, did our preflight checks, and then after fuel arrived, signed off the maintenance release for the day. We had a chat about the plans that we had both done (we did them independently and just validated that we had the same info), and then we were ready to rumble. We ducked back into the FlightOne office to submit a SARTIME (Search and Rescue) and use the facilities and then we were set.
28R was the active runway when we started the plane and as we were running through the start-up check-list, but just as we got the ATIS info it changed to 10L due to the wind. So one very long taxi down to the other end of the field, a passenger breif (in this case a reminder of who PIC for the flight, and that we would follow good practise if we were handing control to the other) and emergency procedure brief later, our run-ups were complete and we were holding short of 10L for a northern departure. There was next to no one in the circuit, so we were given take off clearance immediately and away we went. One left turn later and we were heading north to follow the northern departure route. It was a bit different for me, as I’ve only been in the right seat once or twice with people and never on a nav, so being able to spend the time looking out the window and admire the views of Archerfield, and the Brisbane CBD was quite awesome. Its a spectacular view (Pics below)
We tracked north via the Walter Taylor Bridge, then Somerset Dam, then off to Dayboro staying at 1000′ the entire way to stay out of Class C airspace. Matt pointed out that there is a racetrack at Dayboro on the ground that is a good nav reference point that I’d never noticed before, so I picked up at least one new thing! We hit Dayboro and then started the climb to get over the hills and over to Kilcoy. We started a monitoring watch at Kilcoy and heard that there was quite a few planes around, 1 doing circuits, 1 outbound, and 2 inbound, and us! So we climbed up to 3000’ Matt made an overhead call just so people knew we were around and then carried on to the Sunshine Coast.
After reviewing the VTC we decided to use Nambour as our inbound reporting point, so with the track set we climbed to 3500’ and continued our journey. Matt and I discussed the inbound procedures for Sunshine Coast (as it varies a bit to Archerfield) and we discussed that were expecting to join right downwind for Runway 18 (The big runway at Sunshine Coast) based on the ATIS. However when we called inbound at Nambour, we were advised to join base for 12 (the short runway), so we changed our planned approach and headed inbound. Having been to YBSU once before I had a good idea what I was looking out for, and was able to point it out to Matt to make the approach a bit easier. We were a bit high, but Matt got us down and touched down right onto the Piano Keys. It was a bit bumpy but thats why we practise. Its a shorter runway then our normal runways, so we taxied to the end, and exited, where Tower asked us where we wanted to go and then gave us directions via Taxiway Echo and Mike to the Sunshine Coast Aero Club
Unfortunately we got to the Aero Club just as it was closing up for the day, so we wondered over to the Terminal building in search of Food. The only food places were inside the secure area so after going through the security screening (and having to take my belt off!!) we looked over the food options. Ive been craving a decent bacon and egg meal for weeks so I opted for that. No doubt the most expensive meal I’ve had, as not only was it airport prices, but we paid to fly there! 😀 Matt mentioned as a joke about grabbing some trinkets from the souvenir shop, and I like that idea, so Im now the owner of a sunshine coast magnet for the fridge.
Food eaten and bathroom stops had, we headed back out to the aerodrome and prepped the plane for the homeward journey. It was my turn the fly, and I was definitely looking forward to it. After a preflight, another quick brief, we were ready. Sunshine Coast is a bit different to Archerfield, as Archerfield has defined entry and exit points, so at Sunshine Coast you have to request your departure direction, height and destination. I requested for a southbound coastal departure at 1500, and was given overwater southbound at 1500’. I messed up the read back and said “overfly” instead of “overwater” as I was rushing and muddled myself a bit, so I had to repeat the call to ground again. Next time I’ll read back what I wrote down a bit more carefully.
Arriving at Runway 12, I set up the camera again, changed over to tower frequency and called that we were ready to go. The tower told us to line up and wait as a JetStar plane was taking off on Runway 18 and there would be wake turbulence that we need to hold for. Three minutes later we were cleared to take off and climb straight ahead so off we went. At 500ft, we were cleared to start our turn, so we headed southbound at 1500’. A few minutes later we were clear of the zone and handed off from tower.
The view over the coast was spectacular!
Our original plan had us arriving back at Archerifled around 1300, with our SAR time set for 0330 (UTC TIME), which was going to be cutting it a bit close, so I called Brisbane cCntre to amend that. As part of amending it, Brisbane Centre warned us that there was a new terminal forecast for acherfield that included storms due in the area the same time we were due back. With that piece of information we cut short our plan to fly along the coastline longer and made a bee line for Archerfield.
Along the way we were passing near Caboolture and Caloundra so I put us onto the CTAF for the fields and heard a lively exchange going on. Seems there was a near miss between two planes and one of the pilots wasn’t happy about it and was going off at the other one. I’ll be interested to see if a near miss reports get reported with CASA about it. But that is one the inherant risks of VFR flight in uncontrolled airspace. That is why eyes need to be out the front of the plane the majority of the flight and not looking down at ipads/iphones or on the instruments constantly.
There was rain not far from Dayboro by the time we go there, so we deviated a bit to get around the thicker parts, but once through we headed for the TV Towers at 1500′ (Archerfields inbound reporting point from the North) and were presented with an interesting view. Storms coming in from the right, and blue skies and sun on the left. I was a bit concerned that if we didn’t get in to Archerfield soon we might get caught in the storm, so I discussed with Matt quickly on a few diversion points with Heckfield and Gold Coast nearby if we needed somewhere else to go. 28R was in use according to the ATIS but like earlier in the day, as soon as I made the inbound call the runway was changing to 10L. This was better for us, as it was the closer end to us, and better matched the winds.
I was a bit high on the approach, I should have dropped power a bit earlier to slow down and drop height but I took me a bit longer to correct than I would have liked. But luckily Archerfield is a massively long runway, and we had already been given clearance to roll to the end so I had the full runway to use. A few minutes later we were down safely and taxied back to the grass parking area that ZWY lives on. I was pretty happy with the landing given I haven’t flown the 172 all that much. We quickly packed the plane up, got all our times and updated the paperwork and got the covers on. It just started spitting on us just as we headed back to the FlightOne office. After we handed everything back inside and were walking to our cars, the skies just opened up and started pouring on us. It was so heavy you could barely see a few metres in-front. There were plenty of cars pulling over to the side to wait out the storm. Based on that we got back to Archerfield with about 30-40minutes to spare before the storm hit.
It was a good day out, and fun to go flying with friends and good to get out of the training area and go on a longer trip without it costing an arm and a leg. I enjoy practising at aerodromes away from home, as its easy to get complacent by doing the same thing over and over at the same location. We are going to see storms more and more as we come into summer so its definitely a good reminder to be vigilant and keep a good eye on the forecasts as they change throughout the day, as well as briefing on suitable alternates.
All up a total engine running time of 1.5hrs, and 0.9hrs logged for Matt and 0.8hrs logged for me, a successful day out.