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The Echuca Fly-In that wasn't


Mick
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Bernie & I began our trip departing Maryborough Qld approx 7.00am Thursday 1st of August.

 

Heading towards Kingaroy the weather started to look less friendly as we went. Once past Kingaroy it soon became obvious that we were not going to get over the Bunya's mountain range to get to Dalby. A small diversion of around 20nm saw us go around the range instead. This path still required a little valley running. I will deny that we were flying low, but Bernie reckons he has never looked up at koalas from an aircraft before :ah_oh: ;) :ah_oh:.

 

Once past that range things cleared up for us to track over Dalby and Goondiwindi then landing for fuel at Moree. Tacho time for this leg - 3.2 hours.

 

Full of fuel we depart Moree in good conditions and track to Narabri, then around the Pilliga forrest ( that thing is one damn big piece of tiger country so I am too scared to fly over it ). We pass Coonabarabran and head to Dubbo. This leg puts another 2 hours on the clock.

 

We overnight as planned in Dubbo and I go shopping for a new camera, hence this is where the pic's start from.

 

Friday morning we leave Dubbo nice and early and track towards some ominous skies, thankfully there is a decent gap in this muck right on our track. Below is our view 5 minutes out of Dubbo.

 

1_Weather_5_mins_out_of_Dubbo.JPG

 

Ten minutes later it looked like this -

 

1_Weather_15mins_out_of_Dubbo.JPG

 

We continue on towards Echuca, tracking over West Wyalong, Narrandra and Jerilderie, with conditions not having changed much.

 

1_Half_hour_out_of_Echuca.JPG

 

5 miles out of Echuca we are still at 4500 feet. I choose to do a cruise descent so to arrive over the field at 1500 ft AGL and 140 knots indicated ( the Skylark has a Vne of 153 kts ), thus making a "Grand Entrance". We join the circuit and land only to find there is no-one there to have seen my speedy arrival 051_crying.gif.fe5d15edcc60afab3cc76b2638e7acf3.gif. Time for this leg 3.5 hours.

 

We were soon to have company, some of the locals arriving to prepare for the weekend. Ian also turned up and started to set-up the shop.

 

The afternoon was spent chatting with the locals and a few travellers arriving by car. Bernie and I were also able to have the pick of spots to set up our tents before the crowd arrived. Friday night BigPete ran into town to grab us hamburgers and fish and chips to ensure none of us faded away to nothing over night.

 

"End part 1"

 

 

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Saturday, the day the crowds will arrive?

 

Saturday dawned dark and gloomy having had some light showers overnight.

 

The Echuca club members provided us with bacon and eggs for breaky.

 

While waiting for the crowd to arrive I managed to sneak in 3 short flights to introduce a few people to the Skylark. The third flight was with our fearless forum leader Ian.

 

A little later it was Decca's turn to experience the Skylark, unfortunately this flight was cut short due to rain approaching the airfield.

 

The crappy weather persisted all day, forcing Ian to make the tough call and effectively cancel the fly-in. By Saturday PM the Skylark was still the only aircraft to have arrived at Echuca specifically for the Fly-In.

 

Late Saturday afternoon we could see some serious weather brewing up on the horizon, prompting us to batten down the hatches and move our gear out of the tents and into the club house to ensure it remained dry.

 

Right on cue, just as we started the BBQ dinner, down came rain the likes of which has not been seen in the Echuca district for way too long. It was good to see the weather that had caused us flyers some inconvenience was now dumping some real rain to do the country some good. ;)

 

It rained enough that the Echuca guys took pity on us and allowed us to sleep in the clubhouse and abandon our soggy tents. Ian stuck to his guns and still slept in the shop tent / gazebo. A gutsy move considering how strong the wind got through the night. 011_clap.gif.c796ec930025ef6b94efb6b089d30b16.gif

 

"End part 2"

 

 

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Sunday, is the crowd here yet???

 

Sunday, more of the same murky weather, but another good breaky of bacon and eggs.

 

The Skylark in front of Ian's soggy shop -

 

1_Skylark_in_front_of_Rec_Forum_Shop.JPG

 

A view of the Skylark and the Echuca clubhouse and hangar -

 

1_Skylark_at_Echuca.JPG

 

The entire aircraft parking area ( if you look closely you might see the Skylark amongst all the other aircraft ) -

 

1_Aircraft_line_up_at_Echuca.JPG

 

The camping area at Echuca. Bernie claims that some fella in a tent near his kept him awake half the night by snoring. I think I have convinced Bernie that it was not coming from my tent, must have been someone in all those other tents ;)

 

1_Crowded_camping_ground_at_Echuca.JPG

 

My report on this event could not be complete without a comment and a pic of the small shower block that Ian provided for us -

 

1_Ian_s_LITTLE_shower_block.JPG

 

This baby contained 8 cubicles each for male and female, along with heaps of hot water. It turned out to be just adequate for the three people that camped at the field. We did not have re-use cubicles at all. For those of you who attended Camden Haven, please note that this one also featured steps. At a cost of $350.00 for the weekend, 3 people, two showers each, that's $58.33 per shower :ah_oh:.

 

During the morning I managed to do 2 more flights with people in the Skylark, one was paleXXXX from this forum.

 

"End part 3"

 

 

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So, now we gotta get home.............

 

Lunchtime we depart Echuca and head north, still in pretty murky weather. We get within about 5 miles of Jerilderie and find a solid wall of rain. After a bit of a look east and west we hightail it back to Finley where we put down.

 

1_Waiting_for_weather_at_Finley.JPG

 

In the pic below the Skylark is pointing in the direction we need to go, check out the sky!!!!

 

1_Weather__Skylark_and_CTSW_at_Finley.JPG

 

While we wait we check out a lonely CTSW left out in the weather.

 

After about 45 minutes we decide to go up for another look as I reckon this weather is heading north. This time we get within about 2 miles of Jerilderie before meeting a familiar wall of water. This time I track west quite a way before heading back east to see if there is a way around it. No such luck so we head back to Tocumwal and put down for the night. We have flown 1.6 hours and travelled only 45 nm - Frustrating!!!!

 

1_Skylark_at_Tocumwal.JPG

 

Across the road from our motel we check out an unusual sight in the park -

 

1_Glider_in_park_at_Tocumwal.JPG

 

"End Part 4"

 

 

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Dubbo or Bust...........

 

Monday we awaken to a more friendly looking sky, there is also a nice Southerly blowing.

 

Out to airfield we top off the tanks and depart to the north. From about 1000 ft AGL we hit 25 kts of northerly, right in our face. So much for the tailwind.

 

As shown below, as we pass Narrandra the weather is looking OK, but we still have the 25 kt headwind. It is also pretty rough.

 

1_Countryside_near_Narrandra.JPG

 

I decide I need a break, so after 1.7 hours I put the Skylark down at West Wyalong in I reckon is the strongest wind I have landed in.

 

1_Skylark_at_West_Wyalong.JPG

 

Here is a shot of the windsock just after landing -

 

1_Windsock_at_West_Wyalong.JPG

 

This was the first time both Bernie & I had heard a windsock. This baby was fairly whistling in the wind. ( could this be an aid for the visually impaired???? )

 

Taking off into this wind we head for Dubbo. As we near Forbes the cloud begins to build and for a while we fly above it as there are plenty of holes.

 

1_Cloudscape_near_Forbes.JPG

 

As we get closer to Dubbo the cloud begins to thicken forcing me to drop through a decent size hole to keep the ground in sight.

 

1_Weather_on_the_way_into_Dubbo.JPG

 

1.6 hours after leaving West Wyalong we put down at Dubbo and head to my mum's for a baked dinner that only a mum can make. keen.gif.9802fd8e381488e125cd8e26767cabb8.gif

 

"End part 5"

 

 

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Can we make it home today?????

 

Tuesday we leave Dubbo still punching into a hefty headwind, however the cloud does not look too bad ( YET! ).

 

Passing the Warrumbungles mountain range -

 

1_Warrumbungles_Range_near_Coonabarabran.JPG

 

After 2.7 uneventful hours we land at Moree for fuel -

 

1_Skylark_and_Bernie_at_Moree.JPG ( that's Bernie with the Skylark ).

 

Out of Moree next waypoint is Goondiwindi, with cloud increasing ( Again!!!! ) as we head north. Overfly Goondiwindi and track for Dalby. about 25 miles from Goondi we hit more rain. So back to Goondi to put down and wait awhile. This leg took 1.6 hours.

 

An hour later we make a second attempt at Dalby. This time we get within 20 miles and the weather starts to close in. This time we hedge hop our way into Dalby with visability at a bare minimum. Another 1.3 hours on the clock.

 

We tie the Skylark down and leave it to hang out with the Aggies while we go find some accomadation for the night.

 

1_Stuck_at_Dalby_due_to_weather.JPG

 

"End part 6"

 

 

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Wednesday. And still not looking good..........

 

We get out to the field about 9.00am with the skies still not looking flash. From Dalby our next waypoint is Kingaroy. The Bunya mountain range lies between us and Kingaroy with tops about 4065 feet. Cloudbase is only about 2500 ft.

 

I am thinking in these tricky conditions I am going to want more fuel before home so I ring Tony Pratt at Kingaroy to check fuel is available and to find out what the weather is doing on the other side of the range.

 

Tony tells me that if I can get through or around the range we will be fine to get in to Kingaroy.

 

We depart and I manage to find a high spot in the clouds that happened to be over a low spot in the range so we got through only diverting a couple of miles off the direct track.

 

After only 0.8 hours the Skylark is down at Kingaroy.

 

1_Skylark_at_Kingaroy.JPG

 

After a quick visit to the facilities in the terminal I taxi the Skylark over to the bowser. Upon stopping at the bowser we are swamped by a cloud of flies. I know there has been plenty of flies around most places lately but Kingaroy put them all to shame.

 

Check out the flies in these pic's -

 

1_Flies_on_canopy_at_Kingaroy.JPG 1_Flies_on_Skylark_at_Kingaroy.JPG

 

With wings full of fuel the Skylark departed Kingaroy into cloudy but flyable skies.

 

1.0 hours later we finally touch down back at Maryborough and put the Skylark away for a well deserved rest.

 

"End Part 7"

 

 

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The Conclusion........

 

Some Statistics for the trip -

 

Total flying time - 23.1 hours

 

Distance travelled - 1970 nautical miles ( not including going backwards and around in circles due to weather ).

 

Days Away - 7 ( despite all the bad weather I did manage some flights every day ).

 

During my report on this event I have made light of the lack of turn out for this event. It was however a real shame that the weather did not allow more people to participate. The events that Ian had planned for the weekend would have been great. Also the hospitality shown by the Echuca club members was above and beyond the call of duty.

 

When Ian chooses to hold this event again at Echuca, I can highly recommend that you all try your best to attend, you can be assured of a good time and to be well looked after. I will be doing my best to get there.

 

Unfortunately there is a sad footnote to this report. Over the couple of days at Echuca we witnessed some impressive flying by a local two seat gyrocopter. Many of those who attended got to meet the pilot. Unfortunatley this machine has come to grief during the week with the loss of a life and another person critically injured.

 

Best wishes to the survivor and condolences to the friends and family of the deceased.

 

Cheers

 

Mick

 

PS. For a better look at the pic's in this report, they appear in the gallery under Rec Flying Forum Fly-In's.

 

They appear slightly larger there.

 

 

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Hi Mick

 

Great report, glad I decided to stay here in SA, although I had been planning to come for sometime, was tp pick up my son @ Wentworth! Don't suppose anyone has decided when the next is to happen?

 

V sad about the gyro and occupants, is there any info on the possible cause as yet?

 

Great Report and Great Photo's Thanks Very Much, did Tony give you any insecticide for your fly problem? He should of had some if anyone was to!

 

Cheers Guy

 

 

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Fantastic report Mick ;) - So glad you and Burnie got home safe and sound, good airmanship mate, well done. 011_clap.gif.c796ec930025ef6b94efb6b089d30b16.gif011_clap.gif.8adfe837b4189ee6622bf4917d6a88c0.gif

 

I was so looking forward to meeting many other members of this forum. 051_crying.gif.fe5d15edcc60afab3cc76b2638e7acf3.gif051_crying.gif.edc6b33a234e272ee13f0ec0ae40b12a.gif

 

We are looking at having another go earlier next year - (we have 6 dozen eggs in the freezer - interesting to see how they thaw out! :big_grin::big_grin:)

 

As soon as we have a date that doesn't conflict with local events and all the other fly ins out there we will let you know. :)

 

Great to meet Burnie, Decca, and to catch up with Ian and his lovely family. We sent a "rain bill" to the local council for the rain, but they said it was an "act of God" - we agreed with them - answers to the name of Ian and drives a CT 006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif006_laugh.gif.d4257c62d3c07cda468378b239946970.gif

 

regards

 

 

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Guest palexxxx

Great report Mick and great photo's too. I can vouch for the quality of the Dova Skylark, very nice plane. I guess I was lucky to get a ride when I did, after I arrived on Sunday morning, as when we went up there wasn't a breath of wind but within an hour on my way home (I drove up from Bendigo) there was a strong southerly blowing and with it came more rain.

 

Peter.

 

 

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Mick thanks for your trip report, I’ve enjoyed reading it. Also thanks for the flight. The Skylark is a very smooth, responsive aircraft.

 

It’s just dawned on me (as things often do these days, weeks after) that I met & spoke to Peter (PaleXXXX) without knowing it. Hi Peter.

 

Regards, Decca.

 

 

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What about the pretty little Piper Pacer that turned up for the weekend doesn't she get a mention?

Remiss of me not to mention the classic Piper. I was told that it was not specifically there for the fly-in. The crew did not spend much time at the airfield.

 

I was a little dissapointed after walking around such a pretty old style machine, to look through the window and see a Garmin 296 right smack in the middle of the panel. Also in plain sight was a CD player. Shame these modern conveniences could not have been a little less prominent.

 

Cheers

 

Mick

 

 

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