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Recreational Flyin @ Echuca - The trip so far: Canberra - Adelaide - Melbourne


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In an effort to win the "Furthest Distance Travelled" prize for this weekends' fly-in, Kaz and I set off from Canberra on Friday 26th for Echuca...via Adelaide and Melbourne of course.


With 2 events we really wanted to attend being a week apart we decided to take a bit of leave and have a bit of an adventure. The first event was the Defence Airshow at RAAF Edinburgh in SA. Unlike the Richmond Airshow last year, civilian aircraft were invited to fly-in and we thought this would be a great opportunity to take our baby home - our CT4 spent all its RAAF career at the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at Edinburgh and we were hoping to find someone at the unit who had spent some time either flying or working on A19-046.


The second event is of course the Recreational Flying event at Echuca this coming weekend. To kill time between the two we're spending the week in Melbourne basing ourselves at Point Cook for the week...timing it perfectly to coincide with both runways being resurfaced and most of the airfield being unavailable at some point!


PART 1: Canberra to Parafield, Friday 26 October 2007.


Friday dawns and looking out the window confirmed the area forecast - cloud and scattered showers. Thankfully the cloud base was at a height that would allow us to escape Canberra via the lower ground around Yass then once past the hills we headed for Wagga. Low cloud and scattered showers appeared to be the order of the day and approaching Wagga we check the local weather with a Rex flight that just landed, "fine here" came the reply...bloody optimistic he was...the joys of IFR!


Passing overhead Wagga we're still surrounded by cloud and the odd shower and set course for our next waypoint which was Jerilderie. The showers were a bit more intense to the south of our track and we flew over many paddocks that were saturated by what must've been some decent rain. We hope it was enough to make a farmer's life just that little bit more positive.


As we approach Jerilderie the cloud starts to break up and we set course for Swan Hill for our half-way "defuel & refuel" stop. Passing north of Deniliquin we leave the clouds behind for clear blue skies and a gentle northerly crosswind. Not much to mention for the next hour or so, flat & dry ground and little if any chatter on the radio...thankfully we had the iPod along to keep us company.


Approaching Swan Hill we call inbound and cross the border into Victoria. As we fly overhead the windsock confirms the calm conditions and gave a very slight advantage to runway 26...we also spot a familiar aircraft covered in Castrol livery. After landing and vacating we head for the fuel bowser to top up the tanks. Flight time Canberra-Swan Hill is 2.4 hours.


While refuelling we're greeted by Jenny Taberner from the RA-Aus board and local flying school operator and head inside for a cuppa, a bite to eat and a few tales...can see some of these being told again at Echuca.


Saying farewell to Jenny we wander back to the tarmac where VH-PIP is being refuelled...not by Pip but his mum! We get chatting to Pip's mum for a bit and eventually Pip shows up and introduces himself (and his mum) and we have a bit of a chat about heading to Edinburgh for the airshow where he and Chris Sperou (spelling??) would be performing...or so he thinks (more on this later).


Time to hit the road (so to speak) as Pip has a timeslot at Edinburgh to make and we were keen to get to Parafield.


Departing Swan Hill we continue to head west under clear blue skies for Parafield. More of the same flat dry terrain until we get to the desert region where flat plains turn into rolling sand dunes - a very strange sight I must say.


Another hour and a bit passes and we're in Adelaide airspace approaching the Adelaide hills, dry brown plains turn into rolling green hills as we descend to the South Para Reservoir reporting point for Parafield. Contacting Parafield tower we track to the "substation" reporting point where we are cleared visual approach then landing for runway 18R. Touching down we get some assistance from the ground controller to traverse the maze of taxyways to the fuel bowser and parking. Flight time Swan Hill - Parafield is 2.2 hours.


Packing up the aircraft we grab our bags and head for the train station to get a train into Adelaide where we'd be staying for the next 3 days.


Stay tuned, there's more of the story (and pictures) to come...it's time to break for dinner :).



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Hey Matt maybe I'll out do you seeing there is no time limit. I started to go to Eucha last Febuary via Tassie back to maryborough Qld then down to Camden Haven back home. Then to Tamworth last month back home and now on Thursday to Eucha via Dubbo see, you there.


Now wheres my abacas



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Part 2: The Airshow


Sorry all, dinner turned into an all night catchup with some friends.


Now, where were we...oh yeah, Parafield.


The arrangement for flying into Edinburgh for the airshow required registering, approvals and timeslots. The RAAF had allowed for up to 80 aircraft to fly in between 07:00 and 10:00. Our timeslot was 08:00 so we were up early to get a taxi out to Parafield to pre-flight and ensure we were wheels up in time to meet the inbound and landing times. Parafield to Edinburgh in a straight line is about 5nm, the inbound reporting point for Edinburgh was South Para reservoir so the trip became a 25nm journey...a lot less than the previous days effort.


Taking off from Parafield behind a Chipmunk and a Sportstar (all headed for Edinburgh) we head to South Para Reservoir and by the time we get to the inbound point we've overtaken the Sportstar and closing in on the Chipmunk. We call inbound behind the Chipmunk and are cleared visual approach as number 2 to the Chippy...all well and good but the Chipmunk was flat out at about 95 knots and we were closing pretty quickly. A quick call to the tower to advise them and we're cleared to overtake and become number 1. Cleared to land long on Runway 36 we're just about to touch down and the Chipmunk is "cleared to land, one on" - indicating that he's landing on a runway with an aircraft already on it - beauty of military operations, standard CASA rules about how many aircraft on a runway don't apply ;).


Taxying off we head over to the civvy parking area expecting to see a heap of aircraft...not to be as many had apparently been put off by the weather forecast for the weekend...and later we'll understand why. We park next to an ultralight from Port Pirie (pilot name and aircraft type escape me...) with the Chipmunk and Sportstar follow not too far behind.


The weather on Saturday was interesting, overcast cloud at about 12,000' and wind increasing during the day to be 35-40 knots by the last display...all crosswind to the display line. Similar on Sunday but the cloud base was lower and fewer aircraft displayed due to the wind which was now all crosswind on the main runway. As mentioned in the previous post, Pip Borman was at the show but didn't get to display due to the weather...bit of a disappointment I reckon having flown all that way...for him I mean.


We spent both days wandering around looking at all the aircraft (despite having seen them all before many times) and talking to most of the ground and air crews. The most exciting part of the weekend was not the flying but meeting the current Commanding Officer of ARDU who has spent about 15 years as a test pilot at ARDU and was a pilot there in the mid-late 80's and had clocked up a few hundred hours in our CT4 #46. He was pretty excited to find out about the aircraft, where it was, could he go and have a look, what's happened to it since it left RAAF service etc. At the same time we were asking a battery of questions about what did the aircraft do in service, any interesting tales that type of thing. Apparently the aircraft spent most of it's time as a "runabout" for the test pilots as most of the flight testing for the CT4 had been completed by then. The one interesting fact we we confirmed is that ours is the only CT4A with an inverted oil system and approved for inverted spinning...in fact it's still the only Australian military aircraft (current or past) approved for inverted spinning...not that I'm ever going to test that capability, apparently you need about 5000' to recover...all going well.


After a couple of days of endless walking, talking and staring skywards, we prepare for the long trip back to Parafield on Sunday afternoon. With the wind now a SE at an average of 30 knots we use the grass strip to depart Edinburgh and head back to Parafield for a landing on 26R. Flight time 0.4 :)


Next part (probably coming later today), the trip from Parafield to Point Cook.



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Part 3: Parafield to Point Cook...and some pics


Monday morning we awoke to reasonably clear skies and that wind, although this would be a blessing for our trip east. With forecasts in hand, we pack up all our gear and leave the hotel for the train station. The walk from the station to Parafield was a bit of a struggle, Kaz and I have yet to master the art of "packing light"!


Pre-flight the aircraft and we say goodbye to Parafield and set a heading for Horsham. The nil-wind flight plan had Parafield - Point Cook as about 3 hours, as we settle into cruise altitude of 5500' the GPS tells me it'll be a smidge over 2! That wind that had made the previous couple of days at the airshow less than pleasant was now welcome and we headed to Horsham with a ground speed between 165 and 170 knots...very nice ;).


While we were enjoying this speedy trip we overheard some heavy traffic heading from Adelaide to Melbourne reporting winds above 30,000' as westerly at 108 knots!!! Some of them were struggling to slow down to make their arrival times at Melbourne...nice problem to have!


The track between Murray Bridge and Horsham is pretty bare, some more of that odd sand dune country until we near Nhill then we start to see the Grampians in the distance as we track overhead Horsham for Ballarat. Despite the wind it was actually very smooth, even crossing the hills around Ararat there were only slight bumps. Approaching Ballarat we note the lack of any water in the major lakes, but unlike our last trip over Ballarat the lake in town (name escapes me at the moment) was about 3/4 covered. Hopefully this is on the way up not down.


As we pass overhead Ballarat, our groundspeed has increased to about 175 knots and we'll make Point Cook in about 17 minutes...beats the hour and a bit drive! Approaching Bacchus Marsh we start to descend to stay under the control steps and leave the smooth air behind. The last leg to Point Cook north of Avalon and across Werribee at 1500' with pretty regulary speed bumps to keep us busy.


We join circuit with a lone C172 doing the usual Point Cook pattern...about 5nm from the field! There's no evidence of understanding the wind effect as the little Cessna turns base and continues to drift to the middle of Port Phillip Bay, we decide to go round and wait till he's out of the way and make a 'normal' 1nm circuit and land. Trip time Parafield to Point Cook is 2.5 hours, average ground speed 163 knots...wouldn't have wanted to be flying in the other direction.


That's about it for the trip so far, today we headed around the bay and down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay for a quick scenic flight. Looking forward to the weekend to catch up with all those going to Echuca and having a bit of fun.


Have attached some pics from the trip so far...including the "new" CT4F model...300HP, glass cockpit...very nice.

























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Hi Aussie Steve,


We average 40L/hour at standard cruise power (23"/2600RPM) which will deliver 125KIAS. You can wind it back to 20"/2600 and this will deliver about 100KIAS and somewhere around 27L/hour.


Pacific Aerospace trialled a detuned PT6 version of the CT4 (a one off C model) in the early 90's but it didn't go any further. There was also a one off retractable model (D model) that also didn't go any further. The E model is the current "off the shelf" product which has the Lycoming IO-540 300HP and 3 blade Hartzell prop as well as a mix of analogue and digital instruments.


The F model is an E model modified as a Raytheon "demo" which is being developed for the upcoming tender that Defence will be putting out to fully "outsource" flight training for the ADF - from basic through to wings as is now done in England, Canada, most US forces, Malaysia etc. The CT4F model has the same avionics as the T6 Texan II (Raytheon version of the PC9) and they're marketing the CT4F and T6 as their package. Pilatus are likely to market a single type system based on the PC-21 as Malaysia are using and Singapore are signing up to.


Oh, it was good to take her "home", Alf Janson the CO was also the pilot who took her on her last military flight from Edinburgh to Bankstown for the auction in 1993.



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Very interesting report Matt.


Can't believe that it was back in 1993 that the auction was held at Bankstown. I was there, and remember that the first couple of CT4's went under the hammer for what I thought was a price reflecting very keen buyers who did'nt want to miss out. after which the hammer fell at much lower prices, for aircraft which to my mind did not show really significantly different hours etc: I was very interested myself, but had just gone through settlement and must have picked the "short straw", so it was'nt to be. Anyway, i'm now getting a lot of pleasure from reading of your exploits with Kaz with your one.


Thanks for that.





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Hi Matt,


Thought you might like to know that the flight I caught home from Singapore on Monday enjoyed tail winds between 180 - 210km/h from Port Hedland to Broken Hill on Monday evening. Only started to decrease east of Broken Hill when we started to descend for Sydney. The 108kts you mentioned is in that range.


Got us home 35 minutes early.


Small mercy for me as I'd just done a 13hr flight from Amsterdam-Singapore and the 3 hr transit in Changi airport.







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Part 4: We're home...


The story continues...and ends. As you've probably read in the "Recreational Fly-in" thread we never made it to Echuca due to the weather. Instead we had a few extra days with family and friends in Melbourne.


Kaz and I are both due back at work on Wednesday (ACT government was nice enough to create a new public holiday on Melbourne Cup Day!) so after our trip to Adelaide and Melbourne it was time to head back to Canberra today and thankfully the weather gods were with us given the last few days in Victoria and the ACT (Canberra also got good rains on the weekend).


Driving out to Point Cook it was obvious the wind from last few days hadn't abated at all, but the cloud was high enough and scattered making for a "good enough" day for flying. We hadn't been out to the field since before the big rains on the weekend and as we park the car we find our CT4 and a few other aircraft sitting in a fair size puddle about 2 inches deep with very soft soil underneath...a far cry from the dry and dusty dirt we parked on a couple of days earlier.


First challenge - move the CT4 somewhere firm so that the tanker can get close enough to refuel. Unlike the old Sportstar, the CT4 isn't the easiest thing to push around on the ground weighing in at about 700kg empty...let alone on slippery wet grass in a puddle! For what must've been a humourous sight to my parents sitting in their car, Kaz and I pushed the CT4 back a few meters onto drier ground that would be firm enough to start the engine and taxy from. After a few minutes we're on the tarmac and filling the tanks...feet a little wet from the experience.


Loading all our gear into the aircraft, we say farewell to my folks and Kris K from Oasis Flight Training (old friend and instructor) and taxy out to runway 04-22, the only operational runway today due to runway work on 17-35 and the grass out of action due to the rain. With a decent crosswind (SE at about 20knots) we take off and depart overhead climbing to 2500' and tracking to our first waypoint at Melton airfield. From Melton we head through Penfield-Riddels-Romsey tracking to Mangalore and climbing to 4500'. Approaching Mangalore and free of the lower Melbourne CTR steps and cloud we climb to our cruise altitude of 7500' and set course for Albury which will take us just over the top of Benalla and to the north west of Wangaratta. The strong wind doing little for us as it was almost all crosswind, our groundspeed averaging 120KIAS.


Approaching Wangaratta the cloud starts to build again below us, scattered cumulus topping out at about 6500'. We contact Albury tower and get cleared to track Wangaratta to Albury and then onto Tumut. As we clear the hills just south of Albury the cloud also clears until we near Holbrook where the cumulus build again and we decide to climb to 8500' to be well clear of the tops and the hills between us and Canberra.


Overhead Tumut we contact Canberra approach and get our clearance direct to Canberra. Wind at Canberra is like Melbourne, a SE at 15-25 knots giving us an almost perfect headwind for runway 12. We're cleared visual approach then to land runway 12 into about a 20 knot headwind.


So after 11 days, 4 states (well 3 and 1 territory) and about 1250 nautical miles we end our adventure. We didn't get to Echuca, which was a shame, but it was a great trip and experience and we met some great people at the Edinburgh Airshow and had a great (extended) time with family and friends in Melbourne.


Attached is a Google Earth pic of the main trip (we did a few scenic and training flights in Melbourne). Stats for the trip: 1230nm, 9.5 hours and an average ground speed of 130knots.


Next big trip will be around Christmas when we plan to head back to Melbourne then across to Tassie...depending on the weather of course!









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Thanks for trying to get there Matt/Kaz - it was a pity as the Echuca Club have a huge 1m wingspan model of a CT4 in all its Aussie colours hanging from the roof of their club rooms - I was thinking to myself that you would drool if you made it there and perhaps the club may suddenly find an empty space hanging from their ceiling after the flyin 006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif



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Great report! It sounds like a fantastic trip.


My OH knows your CT4. He said if it is the inverted one it was sent to Laverton to have a number of modifications done.


I'm disappointed though - you've flown all the way to Adelaide but still haven't made it to Camden!



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