Friday, 13 April 2007


Ben Sharpe VH-BVH over Freycinet Wine Glass Bay Prosser River Orford
National Park

Well after a few days rest at Peter & Irene’s lovely house with a bit of running around by Pete to find things for us. Much appreciated Pete!! We planned to head off Wednesday morning (weather permitting) for the Bass Strait Crossing.

Kev flew to Moorabbin with Bob Attwater for a fuel run Tues avo and was met upon his return by Rob Fox from Flypast magazine. As the Stinson had won Concourse at Avalon, Rob was hoping to take some air to air shots of our beast for his mag. After a short discussion on positioning requirements for specific shots etc, Rob and Bob in VH-RED – Bob and Peter’s Yak52, took off before it became too late. Yogendra Kumar and his son had arrived to see the Stinson and they were quickly hustled into the Stinson for a flight. I didn’t even give them a chance to object! Both machines blasted off into the late afternoon sky and after, what seemed only 20 minutes, they returned with all happy on board. Peter and Bob rushed off to a meeting whilst the rest of us viewed the wonderful shots Rob had taken. The light had been perfect, the air calm as was expected at nearly sundown.

We chatted and checked restoration photos over a scotch or 2 before Rob departed for home and we settled down to a lovely meal (once again) with Irene. Upon Peter’s return we chatted about the following day’s plan to depart over the water.

Dawn arrived far too soon with neither Kev nor I sleeping well. We always seem to wake up early on departure days. Loaded lighter for this leg as we would be returning to Tyabb, we took off at 8 am to overcast skies.

Upon climbing it was immediately apparent we had a great tail-wind and with GPS showing 105k whilst the ASI indicated 95k. Wow it certainly would help the fuel consumption and time with the distance we had to fly.

The track to Wilson’s Promontory was quite clear with lots of dams shining in the early morning sun and low cloud in the valleys north toward Melbourne. Quite a beautiful sight. I was amazed at the mountainous terrain of the prom. It was a huge change from the surrounding countryside. We were at 5,500’ on climb to 7,500’ and the Strait did not seem so daunting with a great tail-wind and Lady Bird purring along.

The oil leak that continuously speckled my windscreen had not been fixed much to Kevin’s dismay so the familiar speckles soon dotted my view ahead. It didn’t matter, the little islands, the roads, valleys, beaches and tracks along the southern coast tip were all great to see out the side window. We though the photos would be great - but unfortunately due to the grey sky – they did not seem as speccy as what we had witnessed.

The islands slipped beneath our wings as we consistently showed 115k or more on the GPS. Then Flinders Island came into view – and once again I was surprised. It was nothing like I had envisaged. Such a large, pretty looking island – with properties dotted around and a fantastic airport site – alongside the coast. It was desperately calling for us to stop there and stay awhile. However, not to be, we had plans to get to Hobart before the front came – which was due that afternoon.

Then Tassie came into sight. With dotted cloud, then sheet cloud the north-eastern most tip of the coastline came into view. Once again – spectacular. White, white beaches, rolling hills moving up to farmland and then the mountain ranges. We marvelled at the lovely landscape. I had never seen this part of Tassie from the air. The Launy airport was easy to find as the controller there was so helpful. We found the reporting point in a valley between two peaks – and made our descent onto right base for the runway. We had quite a bit of height to wash off and speed so had to wait till mid finals to put flaps down which kept us both quite busy. We then realized that the aircraft that had just landed and rolled off the runway in front of us was none other than Ben Sharpe in VH-BVH!

He had departed Tyabb Tuesday and stayed in Georgetown overnight – then the co-incidence of arriving at Launy together was amazing. The ATC was in awe of the Stinson and was very complimentary.

Many staff came to see over the bird whilst we fuelled up. After enjoying a coffee in the clubhouse – and seeing a photo or two of our Stinson when she lived there many years ago as VH-KAF – we set off in company of the Sharpes for the east coast and Cambridge.

The open valley changed into craggy mountains with the tree tops (nearly) scraping my bottom, we flew to meet the east coast. We came out south of Friendly Beaches and headed directly to the Freycinet National Park. I had told the family about Wineglass Bay and wanted to see it from the air. My only other sightings had been via posters or the once when I climbed over the craggy rocks to see it for myself some 30 years ago.

It did not look like the posters due to the overcast day. However we had a much more unusual sight of the Sharpe’s Cessna 170 silhouetted against the sky and the hill tops.

The familiar coastline passed all too quickly and before I knew it we were at Triabunna and then Orford (Nanna Milly’s stomping ground) and tracking for the reporting point of Buckland. I had to stop myself from plastering my nose against the window and concentrate on the topography and inbound reporting points for both UXL and BVH.

Cambridge airport is controlled by Hobart tower as they are only separated by 2 kms and a major highway. We had to obtain a clearance, track over the top of the Hobart airport and then line ourselves up for the duty runway. We were doing alright we thought until the tower advised us that we were headed to the wrong strip and needed to extend our base leg – then we noticed the piano keys were displaced due to a rise in the terrain and had to power on until the ground finally came up to meet us. Whew!

Then all was forgotten cause Nanny Milly was there to meet us. We were early on our estimated arrival time by more than 30 minutes but she had managed to get there and get some photos of our landing. After all the usual tying down, cleaning up, unpacking etc we headed off home. Little Hobart didn’t look any different. As we traveled up the outlet over the hill the Tasman Bridge and Hobart were stretched out before us. The Derwent River meandered north and opened up south toward the southern ocean.

Aunty Lisa joined us for the after noon and after hours of chatter and a beautiful turkey roast meal we settled into bed for a well earned sleep.

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Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL
over Perth city (Photo: Greg Hill)

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Flying farming couple who live on 135 acres. Kev is obsessed by aeroplanes. Vicki is devoted to horses and White Swiss Shepherds.