One of the commitments I make to my clients is that I will be available to do the initial test flight of their new Nynja or Skyranger when it is ready to fly. With that in mind a trip to Alice Springs was in order. Chris Leisi has been toiling away on his new wide body Nynja for about 18 months in between operating a very successful tour company based in Alice Springs with his wife Anita.
I had prepared my Nynja the previous day and was able to get away from Watts Bridge by 8.00 AM last Wednesday 19th. The weather was fine with just a light breeze on the nose I made reasonable time to Charleville having overflown Roma. Refuelling at Charleville is a breeze as the refueller is on hand to make sure everything works. I had a quick lunch from the well stocked Café and was on my way again. I was restricted to 4500 ft as every time I tried to climb the head wind forced me back down. It is sometimes a compromise between comfort and speed. The lower you fly the more turbulent it is but generally the lighter the head wind so 4500 was the chosen compromise and I still had a ground speed of 85 knots.
Next stop was Windorah where I had arranged accommodation at the Pub. Refuelling was trickier as the self serve bowser was out of service, however a call to the agent from the supplied phone (no mobile coverage) had the problem licked. Kerry came out to the strip straight away to help out and kindly offered me a lift into town.
Windorah is a great little outback town, wonderful people and hospitality. If you ever get the chance to drop in there do not hesitate.
I walked the 1.5 km out to Windorah airport in the half light of dawn and was airborne as the sun was just over the horizon. It is a magical time to be flying, the shadows over the landscape are amazing, the air is still and the colours all come to life as you watch from above. I watched a dust plume behind a vehicle settle in a fine mist back over the road. Not even a zephyr of a breeze to disturb it. I feel sorry for those who will never see the things that we see from the sky.
I had carried 45 litres of fuel with me and I transferred that to the wing tanks at Bedourie and set off over the Simpson Desert to Alice. This is the first time I have crossed the Simpson and it is a fairly lonely place, no mobile coverage and not much radio chatter as I was still stuck at 4500 ft. There is still a fair amount of vegetation and it changes all the time so it is never boring. Getting closer to Alice the Mc Donald ranges loom in the distance. As they grow larger the grandeur is obvious and the rock formations are simply stunning, they remind me of the Flinders ranges around Arkaroola. Don't take my word for it just go and see them for yourself. We have some of the best scenery in the world just waiting for you.
Bond springs is the base for recreational aviation in Alice springs and where Chris has his Nynja hangered. It is a gravel strip 1800 m long and very wide about 20 mins drive north of Alice. A great spot although a little on the dusty side. The test flying is covered in another post on the forum but it all went well and Chris now has a new Nynja to fly off the 25 test hours.
The trip home was just as enjoyable and a little quicker with a 15 knot tail wind. Actually a 25 knot quartering tail wind which made for some interesting flying at Windorah where I transferred some fuel into the wing tanks. I pushed on to Charleville as I was anxious to get home before some predicted storms on the Monday. Charleville: what lovely people they are there. Not only did they help me refuel but showed me where I could push the Nynja into a hanger for the night . Then if that wasn't enough gave me the use of a courtesy car and recommendations for a reasonably priced motel. That sort of hospitality should be rewarded so if you are out that way drop in and say hi. Perhaps go out for the week end they can certainly use some tourist dollars as they are all doing it tough up there at the moment.
The leg into Watts Bridge was no problem except that as I got closer to the coast the cloud was building up and I was forced under the cloud with 40 miles to go. The cloud base was 3500 ft which gave me plenty of terrain clearance. It proved to be a good move as there were no holes in the cloud as I landed at Watts Bridge.
A total of just over 22 hours flying over four days out and back. Was it worth it? Hell yeah!! Would I like to do it again? In a heart beat, although a bit more time would have been nice and I would love to do a lot more flying around Alice.