Thursday, 31 March 2011

March 29th Temora to Tocumwal

Alarm woke us at 6am and after a quick shower, breakfast and pack of the luggage, Ian drove us back to the airport in time for the 8am briefing.

After the briefing we had to make room for Keith Webb the photographer who was joining us on this leg.  We were able to offload some of our luggage into the Hudson and therefore were not overloaded.  The morning was very calm and warm and we finally departed at 10.06 am followed a couple of Yaks out on runway 36.  Rod Edwards followed us in his Stearman.    Keith was able to get some fantastic photos of the Stearman as Rod formatted on us.  A very easy 50 minute flight over pretty country was made more enjoyable by answering the questionnaire on the way. Our first sightings of Tocumwal airfield were vastly different to what we had envisioned.  The off duty runways were untidy and fairly neglected.  We landed on runway 36 a and were directed to a parking spot on the tarmac as a display plane.  The Tigers, Avro and Stearman were parked close by out on the grass but many other aircraft were parked about 300m away across rough long lupin stubble – quite a hike to the Aero Club.

The Club provided a light lunch and then we sat with the plane whilst the GILP (general icecream licking public) walked around and took photos of the craft.  Quite a number of school groups also came past and the conduct of these kids was exemplary.  I spent a short time catching up on the blog then we packed up and caught a bus back to the hotel where we had a rest and uploaded some blog posts finally.  Unfortunately I had not downloaded any photos so they were to be added later.
The evenings dinner booking was at the Toc Golf Club which was a short walk from our hotel.  A lovely meal was finished off by a rousing enthusiast speech presented by a local aviation veteran.  His historical knowledge of the US involvement in the development of the defenses in the area was of great interest.

March 28th Temora Start of RAAF 90th Anniversary Pilgrimage

A leisurely breakfast with Barb and Clin at Boginderra with cereal, fruit, yoghurt, toast and drinks which was a superb start to the morning.  Once again we ate on the verandah watching the local birds playing in the trees.

After a short walk down to the hangars we finished washing the Stinson and helped Clin and Barbara wash the Avro Cadet with the wonderful micro-cloths that Clin had sourced.  I also debugged the C150 just so she wouldn’t feel left out.

We flew into Temora just before lunch for registration for the RAAF 90th Anniversary Pilgrimage which was to commence that evening with a dinner.  We lunched at the lovely Aero Club and got a lift into town to get Kevin’s iphone repaired and post the usb modem back to Anthony.  We wandered town for a bit and then returned to the airport in time for me to update some more blog story before the evening’s event.

The dinner was held in the Temora Museum with beautiful aeroplanes surrounding the tables.  Clin’s Avro was pulled into the museum to be part of the display.  The meal commenced with either a chicken parcel or beef served with bread roll.  The dessert was cheesecake, a fruit compote and lovely mini chocolate cup.
We sat at a table with the West Aussies – The Shines, Edwards, Pat &  (Rod’s co-pilot and his wife) Murray & Andy (ring-ins from Victoria)The evening had a fun questionaire relating to flying set by the Antique Aeroplane Association which was a great source of amusement to the evening.  Our table called themselves the WA Sandgropers. Speeches by the organizer Rod Luke, the Mayor of Temora, David Lowey – Museum patron and others were all well delivered. 
Following the meal the awards were given out.  The Longest Travelled was awarded to Rod Edward’s Stearman from WA (Yippee) Their prize was a book.
Then the best vintage aeroplane was given to Chris and Lorrie Shine’s Staggerwing from WA (Yahoo)
Best Military to the CT4 and best presented to a Chipmunk. 
Then the Grand Champion of all the aeroplanes was announced and it was…………. Kevin & Vicki Bailey’s Stinson Reliant VH-UXL from WA.  (Abso BLOODY lutely Amazing.  We won a beautifully handmade cabinet of Jarrah in which was a crystal port decanter and 2 port glasses and also a framed certificate.
Cheers all round for the WA contingent……. We blitzed the awards.

We thought we had muffed most of our question sheets so were very happy with the awards evening.

Very tired and satisfied we returned by car to our hosts beautiful home for the last time and after searching for Kevin’s lost glasses (found outside in the dark only 15cm from car tyre tracks) and also finding the money he had mislayed.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

March 27th Albury to Temora

The following morning after Anthony spoiled the men with a cooked breakfast, we all headed back to the airfield and they put the cowls back on and prepared the machine for the next leg.  Meanwhile Vicki has mislayed the bigpond internet modem.  Much to her disgust Vicki couldn’t update the blog or get emails etc.  So with the offer of another loan modem from Anthony (we are indebted Ant….!) we set off from Albury with a flypast the tower en route to Temora.  Lifting off at 1.10pm we cruised at 2,500ft over pretty farmland with burnt off paddocks dotted here and there. 

We overflew Temora airport and spotted Chris and Laurie Shine’s Beech Staggerwing VH-FNS lined up with Rod Edward’s Stearman  – both also from Western Australia

We flew on the GPS heading direct to Clin and Barbara Ashton-Martin’s property where after landing Craig, Lara and 20mo (Annabel) Taberner in their Cessna 195 zoomed past at great speed and then landed to join us.  What a spectacular property we had been invited to stay at and the host’s home was truly beautiful.  It was over 100 years old and Clin and Barb had restored the existing home and added an impressive living “wing” with indoor pool, master bedroom with ensuite, laundry and another bathroom. 
We had afternoon tea on the verandah overlooking the airfield on which was parked the C195 and the Stinson.  We went down and washed all the bugs and red dirt from the Stinson and were very relieved to find that the oil leak had definitely stopped.

We met their two dogs Pepsi and Jackson and during this time Kevin realized he had mislayed a parcel of money and though we searched through every piece of clothing but could not find it.
We dined on pork with mango sauce with lovely vegetables followed by mixed berries and icecream.  (How am I going to stay trim on this trip?)

March 26th Horsham to Albury

Kev’s iphone was still playing up so when he woke and checked the time, he thought he had hours to spare but it had not rolled over to Victorian time and subsequently they were later than planned.  Vicki was to arrive at Albury at 1pm on the train from Melbourne.  They finally left Horsham at 9.03am and arrived Albury 11.35.  Maca’s good friends Bruce & Lisa with their 2 kids, Anthony Bulle, his Dad Bruce and father in law Allan were all there to meet us.

Anthony had arranged hangarage for the Stinson and by chance it belonged to the Mobil area distributor, Andrew Heath.  We had previously many dealings with and help from Andrew when Mobil were our sponsors but had never met.  Kevin was delighted to finally meet and shake Andrew’s hand after many years.  Meanwhile Maca sent Anthony to the train station to meet Vicki’s arrival from Melbourne.  After settling the Stinson in the hangar it was decided that we would lunch at Anthony’s and then return to the airport to trace and repair the oil leak prior to the RAAF Pilgrimage.  Ant. spoilt us with barbequed kebabs and a salad with fresh bread rolls all served in the bbq area.  The boys all headed back to the field whilst Vicki caught up with some sleep (hadn’t had more than 1 hour on the train since 6am the previous morning) and then went for a walk to stretch her bored legs from so many hours sitting on the plane and train.

About 6.30pm they arrived back after a successful fix of a blown gasket.  We hurriedly set off to the local hotel where Bruce and Lisa were waiting for us.  Unfortunately for us there was a swap meet on the next day after a tennis tournament that day and the pub was packed full and having trouble keeping up with the meal orders so we decided to get pizzas for the evening.  We joined Lisa and Bruce at their home and enjoyed a great evening with good company.

March 25th Gawler to Horsham

The following morning with time to spare, we went to Allan and Ruth’s home close to Marc’s to catch up and spent nearly 2 hours admiring their quality gardens,  With promises to bring Vicki next time, they dragged themselves away to fly the huge distance of 240 nm to Horsham.
With a departure at 9.40 am they cruised over pretty country side to have a look at Darryl’s old farm at Nhil.  Arriving at Horsham after 2 ½ hours they found that there was a 20+k crosswind - definitely too strong for the Stinson to handle.  The other strip was undergoing maintenance and totally US (unserviceable).  With a dilemma like this and after many go-arounds, they were almost considering moving on when a local engineer with a ground radio suggested an area that could be suitable for the Reliant.  With many precautionary flights and testing the area, with a vehicle showing the way, Kevin did a very short landing on a strip of ground alongside runway 18.  The only problems were:- a row of 4 foot (1.1m) high posts on one side, an 18” (45cm)  ditch on the other side and a 6’ high pile of dirt at the end of the cleared 200m area.  With (both eyes closed tight), Maca keeping a firm hold on his legs, full flaps and with a steep but slow descent speed Kev arrived firmly and stopped within 180m.  Maca let out a yelp of delight at the adrenalin buzz and Kev was quietly proud of his achievement.  Those of you who know the Stinson which weighs in at 1100 kg empty and 1,818 kg fully loaded, would realize that a 180m stop into such a dangerous area was no mean feat.

Upon arrival they found that Stinson had developed a severe oil leak and after topping up with 5 litres of oil decided that work would have to be undertaken at Albury the next day before continuing on the journey.
Kev’s long term shearing mate Darryl Argall was there to meet them. As in past times he took Maca and Kev home for a fantastic cooked meal and to catch up with Darryl’s wife Mary. They also had a drive around the flood affected areas of town where the water line on many street poles was at 3’ high.  The evening’s entertainment was superb, jokes and jibes all round.  The food - copious and with much alcohol to drink, the night finished up with very happy tired crew.

March 24th Port Pirie to Gawler

At 8.50 the next morning we departed to overfly Adelaide and head for Gawler.  Once again punching head winds.  Upon requesting to overfly Edinburough Military Airspace,  Adelaide radar refused clearance and directed us over towns X and Y – neither of which could be found on the maps.  We chose to track down the light aircraft lane to overfly Parafield and turn north to Gawler.  Our groundspeed immediately shot up to 140k due to the tailwind.  A speed like that is unheard of in the Stinson!
Reaching rwy 23, Gawler at 10.10am such a short pleasant flight – we touched down to find Mark Michel waiting to meet us.  We were one day late to catch up with Robyn – my sister, who had to go away on business – however they were fed, and accommodated by Marc at his beautiful property at One Tree Hill.

March 23rd Kanandah to Pt Pirie

Departed Kanandah at 6.56 am after a eggs, sausage & toast breakfast into the crisp Nullabor morning air and once again Maca took over and flew non stop (haha) to Forrest. Maca commented on how little there was to see over the horizon as far as he could see and at 500 ft agl there was lots (of nothing) to see.  We landed at Forrest at 8.42 with a slight down wind on rwy 18.  The lovely refueling agent and caretakers Lenny and Mary were there to welcome us having heard on the grapevine (airway gossip) that we were coming. After refueling – took on 140 litres and 2 litres of oil – we departed at 10.02 heading for Ceduna. We arrived at 12.52 pm after a leg of 2 hrs 50 minutes still with a headwind.
At 1.50pm as we were taxiing out to depart Ceduna a RPT (regular public transport for those non-air readers) came in.  We had to move off the runway and hold on the side to allow her to pass us.  As the RPT passed by the Captain quoted “Nice aeroplane. Bet she’s not still under warranty”!   We got underway and set our heading for Pt Pirie with a headwind we were only getting 90k groundspeed.  The weather started closing in with low cloud over the hills and showers west of Cowell.  So the decision was made to divert to Port Pirie. Inbound over the bight at 146k groundspeed we were soon on the ground at 3.53 pm with no chance of getting to Gawler before last light.  Luckily for us Steve Joyce the Pirie airport manager offered accommodation and a meal at his home.  The beautiful chicken baked in pastry and vegetables would make any chef proud and his hospitality was superb.  He is to be credited for his public relations to the general aviation as he is known for his hospitality to many traveling pilots.

March 22nd Mundijong to Kanandah

Departed Mundijong sharp on 9am with the first fuel stop being Merriden.  Arrived safely at 10.27am with wind straight down runway 10 - used 50 litres fuel.  With a 50 minute turnaround departed at 11.17 for Kalgoorlie trying to get good speeds and winds mindful of the big day ahead.  We had about 10 knots of headwind but still managed to cruise at 94 k.
Arrived over the top Kal at 1.05pm and landed on rwy 11 having used 2 litres of oil and about 193 litres of fuel since departing home. We ate some more of the goodies, biscuits, fruit, and cheese that had been so nicely prepared for us. Vicki SMS’d instructions through to us regarding the SPOT tracker as it was not recording on the website.  We departed at 2pm with Maca flying the plane totally except for the take offs and landings.  We sighted Kanandah Station and it was obvious that they had plenty of rain over the recent weeks.  There were lots of fat happy cattle sprinkled among the treeless paddocks.  The strip was dry with grass about 10 – 15cm long as we landed (at 3.45pm)- a sight I had never seen in all my years of stopping at Kanandah.  Both Mark and Karen were away unfortunately but the “rousies” welcomed us and after refueling and tying her down for the night we spent a pleasant evening eating a stew dinner with the rousies, we were allocated any empty stockman’s house where after removing 4 dead mice (complete with maggots) had a good nights sleep.
That was one long day for a first day out but we were very happy with the progress and the condition of the engine.

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

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

About Us

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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.