Friday, 20 May 2011

May 18 Port Hedland to Exmouth

 Departed Pt Hedland at 9. am and tracked over the muddy irregular coastline to Karratha.

We heard an incoming call from a Qantas airline RPT so we maintained 500 ft agl to keep separation and after a few moments we saw it slide diagonally past our windscreen at 2,500 ft – a magnificent sight – and I was too slow with my camera.

We turned left (southward) and the miles soon slipped away on very smooth air.  There wasn’t much to look at unfortunately except a few islands – one of which was iron ore coloured.

Approaching Karratha we requested a right turn to view the Burrup complex.  Passing by the huge gas burning tower gave us quite a bit of turbulence.  One area was obviously under construction and this is where my eldest brother, Phil works.  I had emailed and sms’d to let him know we were coming through.  I think he was on night shift so would be asleep.

Arriving at Karratha, we were kindly directed to the GA parking area by the controllers and immediately pilots came from everywhere.  We refueled and then were invited inside for a coffee by Kylie and Mike from Karratha Aviation Services.  Thanks everyone – lovely hospitality.

We departed K at 12pm watching a huge iron ore train passing the airport then turned left overland.

The winds were rather ordinary and a bit lumpy so we climbed up to 4,500 ft to overfly Onslow and onto the Gulf.  In preparation for the water crossing to Exmouth, we climbed again to 6,500ft.  Beautiful smooth air gave us a view across the water to the Exmouth peninsular in the distance.  Beginning our descent 13 miles out we slid down at 120 knots to overfly the field and approach onto runway 18.  In the final stages of descent we passed 2 PC9s in formation inbound for Learmonth.  Not a soul came to greet us as compared to Karratha. 

Upon checking my messages I found missed calls and messages from Andrew.  Stevie hadn’t received our sms about being 2 hours later than originally planned and was desperately searching for us and getting worried.  She had driven to Learmonth hoping we had landed there but we had arrived safely at the Exmouth ALA.  We unpacked, tied her down and had taken our luggage to the closest exit gate when Stevie arrived to collect us (with freshly purchased prawns).  We felt bad about them having so much unnecessary worry – always a concern when flying across country.
Exmouth Light Aircraft airfield

Back to their home, we feasted on freshly peeled prawns with fresh bread whilst Stevie traditionally fussed over us.  What a gorgeous sister-in-law she is.  Andrew was in Perth for an appointment and would be arriving back early next morning.  We spend an easy relaxing afternoon catching up with Kirsten and Carmen (nieces) to hear that Leigh (nephew) was out fishing with his boss (good boss eh?) and had caught a 900mm cod – very suitable for dinner tomorrow evening.

That evening we dined on marinated lamb shanks with baked vegetables all perfectly prepared by Carmen – a great cook.

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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.