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By Jodel, Ballarat to Perth via Forrest


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Well folks, after 19.2 hours of flying and a few dramas, my Jodel D113 is now nicely tucked up in WA. The dramas started as soon as I arrived in Victoria, well before I even saw the aircraft. I was waiting for the bus from Tullamarine to Ballarat, and for the previous owner Gabe Shuster to turn up, when the phone rang. It was Gabe, and he was on the boat from Tassie having been unable to get a flight out due to fog, and wouldn't be there until mid-morning the next day. Sunday morning dawned to low cloud and a 25knot wind at an interesting angle to the runway. Gabe turned up at about 10-30am and said he had to leave at 12pm to catch his train, leaving only time (after the inevitable paperwork) for about 30mins dual in atrocious conditions. The 30mins was spent getting blown south, as by now the wind was up to 30knots, (but a little less across the runway at least). On returning after some upper air work, Gabe had run out of time so, we had to land off the second circuit, giving me little time for dual circuits, but that would just have to do. Gabe went off to his bus/train, and the wind came up to a full 45knots, convincingly removing any ideas of me making my first solo in EMH that day.

 

There remained however the task of getting her back to the hangar from where she was tied down on the flight line, no easy feat in a light tail dragger in those conditions. I started her up and by judicious (read heavy and continuous) use of the excellent hydraulic brakes, got her adjacent to the hangar, where I encountered problem No2, I couldn't get out! While the toe brakes held her against the wind ok, the parking brake would not, so I was stuck there with my feet on the brakes feeling rather sheepish. Within a minute, help (including Decca) turned up and released me from my little wooden prison by holding her down and helping me get her into the hangar. Once in the hangar I noticed that a spring on the ‘Swiss’ muffler was hanging loose, and Decca once again came to the rescue with his technical knowledge and the skillful application of lock-wire. From that point I was quite happy to return to the Aero Club to eat a curry pie and drink beer, eventually settling down for the night in the club dormitory and hoping for better weather the next morning. I woke at 6am with the wind light and pretty much down the runway, so I got her out and pretty soon was climbing out into a clear blue sky with just a few small isolated cumuli. I went straight to 4,000ft for a few stalls, which without power were a total non-event, and even with full power were almost self recovering; this is one very stable aircraft. Spins do not occur, end of story, no matter how you try to hold her in, she just drops into a spiral dive. Next came some slow flight, with under 30knots being possible without any height loss, and I estimated that an approach of 55knots was where I would begin, probably dropping to 50knots with a few circuits under my belt, (in reality that eventually became 45knots.) I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the ‘picture’ over the nose in both the three-point an ‘wheeler’ attitudes, and with the fuel management system, (there being three tanks; nose, left wing, and right wing, with a selector valve and transfer pump), before returning for some circuits.

 

The first circuit demonstrated convincingly that unless you want to stay up until you run out of fuel a side-slip is necessary, this is an aircraft that does not like the ground, it would prefer to just continue flying. The first touch and go was a wheeler and was totally uneventful, the second was a ‘three dogs barking’ and showed that a light touch is required to gracefully three-point this type. The approach was easy and intuitive, she settled down on all three with ease, and as the speed started to bleed off I gently pulled back on the stick to ‘nail’ the tailwheel, and was instantly flying again, at an indicated airspeed of bugger all, and with the stall warning flashing and screaming at me. On the third I let her run on longer before applying back stick, and found that she ran pretty straight down to very slow speed with no real tendency to swing until almost at a standstill where there was little airflow across the rudder, and a dab of brake was required to keep her straight. All-in-all the Jodel D113 is an undemanding aircraft for even a low time tailwheel pilot, and given its popularity in France as a trainer for over 50 years, that came as no surprise. A taxi to the pump, refuel and final checks, and I was lined up at 8:30am for my first leg to Mildura, with 8knots on the nose and a clear sky.

 

The run to Mildura was uneventful, with a ground speed of 95knots, giving a TAS of 103knots, pretty much what I was led to believe, and also the ASI under-read by around 8knots at an indicated 100knots, but is accurate at 80knots and below, as stated by the previous owner. Re-fuelling at Mildura showed a fuel burn of about 22lts/Hr at 2400 rpm, again as advertised, and I was off to Port Pirie for the night. All went well until north of Renmark when I planned to make my first fuel transfer from a wing tank to the main. I selected ‘right’, flicked the switch, waited for the sight tube to show fuel flowing, and waited…..and waited. It became obvious the fuel in the wings was staying there, and consequently I was not going to make Port Pirie. A quick re-plan, and I was on track to Renmark, where I landed on a deserted airstrip frustrated and irritated. I decided to do some simple tests of the fuel transfer system, and quickly found that the fuse for the fuel pump had broken, not blown, but broken, probably due to vibration. There were spare fuses in the aircraft, but I was now tired, and decided to stay in Renmark for the night, there was a taxi number on the airfield hut, and a phone call later I was in the Renmark Motor Inn ordering a meal.

 

Morning saw me refueled and airborne for Port Pirie at 08:00. The direct track took me through the edge of the Edinborough restricted zone, so a dog leg overhead Jamestown was required, and I landed at Port Pirie after an uneventful but bumpy flight to find a gaggle of about six aircraft lined up at the bowser, from a Cirrus, through a Bonanza, to a Tecnam and Jabiru and a C180. It turned out that large numbers of people were flying west for the Red Bull Air race, and I was destined to meet these folks several times on the trip.

 

While waiting for my turn at the pump I struck up a conversation with the pilot of the Jabiru, Ian West, who had just purchased the aircraft in Queensland and was flying it home to WA, we decided to meet at Ceduna and fly the rest of the trip together. Because of the greater performance of my aircraft I donned my lifejacket, climbed to 5,000ft immediately after takeoff, and tracked direct to Ceduna across the Spencer Gulf and the Gawler ranges, while Ian flew north to Port Germain for the shorter water crossing to Whyalla and then tracked south of the mountains via Wudinna, arriving in Ceduna about 45 minutes after me, I in turn had arrived after the Cirrus, Bonaza, Tecnam, C180, and C182RG from Port Pirie, and a second Cirrus that had now joined the party on its way to Perth. All refueled and were overnighting in Cedunu, where the Air BP agents also run the Motel and operate a shuttle bus from the airport. Ian and I had a very nice meal in their restaurant, a beer or two on the balcony, and then went back to the room and did our flight planning for the following day. The owners gave us access to their computer in the morning, and before breakfast we had been to NAIPS and got our briefing, and by 000 were airborne for Nullarbor Roadhouse. I was about 20mins ahead of Ian when the cloud base dropped to about 1,000ft, and the ride became very bumpy. I warned Ian via radio that there was an un-forecast band of low cloud ahead, and that by tracking about 3NM south of our planned route out over the sea, the cloud was not present and the ride was smooth as silk.

 

On arrival at Nullarbor I overflew to get a squizz at the windsock, which was about equally across both runways, and blowing quite strongly. I picked a runway and was on short finals when the wind suddenly came around about 90deg. This was both good and bad, as it meant a go-around and a switch of runways, but the wind was now from the NE meaning a tailwind across the Nullarbor instead of the headwind we had had to date. Ian arrived and we refueled, at $2.70 a litre! That was the most expensive AVGAS I have bought in a long time, the next most expensive was all of 60cent cheaper, and the least expensive on that trip was just $1:40, I was also charged $14 for a litre of oil that normally costs less than $9. We fled Nullarbor as soon as possible, feeling like we had been mugged, and headed for Forrest, our last destination for the day. The flight was going well, a little bumpy but not too bad, when I noticed the generator light had come on, and the ammeter was showing no charge. I completed my fuel transfer as I wasn’t sure how much battery I had left, and I couldn’t make Forrest on what remained in the main tank. There is nowhere to divert to out there, and a forced landing in the horizon to horizon scrub was not an inviting prospect, so the immense 1829 x 150 meter runway at Forrest was a welcome sight.

 

Forrest is an amazing place, it is the mid-continent emergency diversion airfield for Virgin Blue, and has all the navaids runway and lighting required for that, but it also has no Air-Stairs, so if a commercial aircraft ever does divert there the passengers will have a long climb down! Forrest is run by Chris and Sarah Harrison, both pilots, and Sarah is a qualified Commercial instructor and ex-airline pilot. They have a lovely old Auster J5 in an immense hangar, which still seemed empty with my Jodel, the Auster, Ian’s Jabiru, a Bonanza, and an RV6, (both of which had arrived before us), tucked into one lonely corner. Chris is also a LAME, and he wasted no time in looking at my charging problem, he quickly eliminated the regulator and battery, and suspected that the generator brushes had failed, for which there were no spares in the middle of nowhere of course, so we put the battery on charge and called it a day.

 

Ian and I booked into one of the 4 bedroom houses that serve as accommodation at Forrest, yup that’s right, an entire house for the price of a cheap motel room, and for a bit extra Sarah cooks up a delicious evening meal which guests share with them around a long table in their own kitchen. Sarah is definitely multi-talented, as the olive vol-u-vents and beef chilli were as good as I have had anywhere at any price. After dinner saw us all on the veranda for an evening drink, looking out over a spectacular Nullarbor sunset. I cannot recommend Forrest highly enough, every aviator should go there at least once, it’s a truly unique experience.

 

The leg from Forrest to Kalgoorlie is 360NM, and while within range for both of us with 45mins reserve, it was only just so, and we decided to fill our 20ltr jerry cans and land at one of the many old Railway Company strips along the transcontinental line to top up. We selected Rawlinna, which proved a good choice, as all the others were very overgrown and rough, even Rawlinna had low scrub everywhere but a few meters along the centerline. We refueled at Rawlinna and set off for Kalgoorlie, and about 10 minutes later Ian was on the radio saying that he had turned back to Rawlinna as he had forgotten to replace his fuel cap, but that he was ok and I should carry on.

 

On arrival at Kalgoorlie I went straight to Goldfields Air Services to see if they had brushes for an O-200 generator, but they quickly established that the only source was Perth, so once again the battery was charged. By then Ian had arrived, so we had a ‘Boulder Burger’ and then refueled. Here was where out paths diverged, Ian heading further north, and me heading for Northam and my LAME Roger, to sort the charging problem out. I arrived at Northam at dusk, and the PAL lighting was a welcome sight as it came on, it meant I was home and not so far from my own bed. Roger and his crew had finished for the day, so I tied her down and phoned my wife to come and collect me, and an hour later we were sitting eating a Pizza and drinking beer, (well I was, she was driving). The next day I phoned Roger, who told me they had fixed the charging problem in about 2 minutes, it was just a loose connection. All in all it was good trip, and I am very pleased with the aircraft, I also made some new friends, and that is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best things about aviation, the people.

 

George W. Brown

 

 

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What a fantastic adventure George. Thanks. Can you take 95kg of ballast next time? Regards, Decca.

Of course! but remember to bring your lock-wire pliers...;)

 

 

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So George you did come through Mildura but never let me know:crying:051_crying.gif.fe5d15edcc60afab3cc76b2638e7acf3.gif051_crying.gif.edc6b33a234e272ee13f0ec0ae40b12a.gif

Guilty as charged. I was all excited about my new toy and simply forgot. I will do better next time......I promise.049_sad.gif.af5e5c0993af131d9c5bfe880fbbc2a0.gif

 

 

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