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Down Under Tour 2015

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Spring in the southern hemisphere is nearing, it's about time for me to start preparing my Australia tour. Further to the Chritmas sale at Orbx, I installed FTX Australia SP4 and Holgermesh AU, and all their freeware airports. I added all the Ants freeware airports, and the OzX scenery and libraries adding a lot of bush and farm strips, as well as many points of interest. 


My idea is to explore the continent island region by region from a central regional airport for each, making one to one and a half hour flights. Navigation will be done with Plan G 3.1, not connected as usual so that it doesn't give away my position. Following which airplane I will be using at the time, I will be able to use GPS and NDB / VOR navaids.


According to my own taste, I will also avoid as much as I can big cities and international airports and prefer bush strips and regional airfields.


I've decided to mostly use my piston engine Cessnas for which I found local liveries : 172 RG Cutlass, 177 B/RG Cardinal II, 185 Skywagon, 195 Business Liner, 207 Skywagon, 337 Skymaster and the 404 Titan for inter regional flights. I will also from time to time use planes I like, the Waco, Auster J1, Tiger Moth, etc...


I must say this is going to be again for me a great discovery adventure, the only australian landscapes I know are Ayers Rock, the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera. I'm sure there are tons of other things to discover ! According to my last Aeropostale adventure last year, I guess it will take roughly 6 months.


First step today will be a short test flight to verify that OzX small strips have installed properly, and a rehearsal of "good ol'time" navigation with the Cutlass, which has no autopilot and no GPS.


(To be followed...)

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Thks for your comments, Graeme.  Fortunately, getting old has a few positive points, like having a lot more free time.    I read somewhere that you really get old when you stop learning, so after o

Haha !  As you know english is not my native language ( although I have a US High School diploma, a University Master and a British Chamber of Commerce    ) and besides this you are right I spent a lo

Yep, went for a little Alaska flight for my Air Hauler company. They were surprised to see me around ! 

So, first test flight...  Departure from Coffs Harbour YSCH a little north of Port Macquarie on the coast of the Tasman Sea. The goal is to reach a dirt strip intalled by OzX in Mount Mitchell. It is a small 600m strip with a 15-33 orientation some 4200 ft high.


As planned I take the Cutlass, so no GPS and no autopilot. I dial just in case a NDB lying close in the northeast of my destination. Plan G tells me this will be a flight around 40 mn and that I will be climbing !


I leave Coffs Harbour at 8:30 local with a guy who knows the surroundings as copilot. This being a first test, I didn't load real weather, so it's default FSX nice weather, no wind and good visibility.




I climb to 4500 ft before stabilizing, heading on 275° - no wind, no correction - The Cutlass is easy to trim for a cruise speed around 120 knots. Soon I fly over a wild forest landscape.




From time to time, a hole in the trees shows a farm in the middle of the forest.




I aim for the gap on my way between  Mount Gardiner and Mount Mulligan.




I've kept on climbing up to 6000 ft and the lanscape is now a high barren plateau.




Despite the lack of vegetation I can't manage to locate the strip which must be now in my vicinity. A quick look on the map and we see that it is right on the path between a small lake I have in sight in the South and my NDB Glen Innes 2GL. No brainer, I fly to the lake and head to the NDB.




After a couple of minutes we spot the dirt strip which is not easy to see in this landscape. As I fly over, I notice the 15 has a slope going up, so I choose this approach.




No problem to line up, think about lowering the gear and not pushing the mixture to max because of the height, and here we come.




After parking the plane, I can see we are welcome by a flock of white birds. Let's hope this is a good omen in these latitudes !  :)




( to be followed... )

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Great flight for the first one. :thum:


I have everything you mentioned installed too and have spent at least a hundred hours, if not more, enjoying the Australian continent using PlanG, Google Earth and FSX. It's a fantastic place for old time nav/map flying and I see lots of enjoyable flights ahead for you. The addition of the photos folks upload into GE supply a great RW insight into to countryside I flew over.


Looking forward to your flights ahead. :)

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Nice plan to poke around each region, I had imagined you doing more of a circumnavigation or similar. Looking forward to seeing what you find outback there.

NZ is also full of little sloped dirt and grass fields like that one there. Fun times ahead for you mate!


Also looking forward to seeing a change of planes based on your needs/goals for an area...variety is the spice.

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New South Wales


So the plan is to start in New South Wales and turn clockwise to finish in Queensland around Brisbane.


For New South Wales, I divided the region in four quarters and I will base my regional operations in the closest airport from the center, which happens to be the small agricultural town of Condobolin. It is marked on the regional map by a red dot. I will start with the SW quarter and turn right to finish in the SE quarter. From there we will go to Victoria and Tasmania. But this will be another story...




*  Note on the map all the small white circles looking like targets, these are all the country airfields added by the OzX team. We can already see by the density of airfields that we are in the most populated regions of the country.


Condobolin is a small town of around 4000 people at the junction between the Lachlan River and the Gooban Creek, not far from the Mount Tilga. To give an idea of distances, it is situated some 290 miles west of Sydney.




Run by the Lachlan Shire Council and lying 650 ft high, the local airport YCDO has a main 4500 ft asphalt runway 01/19, and a secondary 3950 ft red clay runway 10/28. Nearby is a NDB (CDO) on 401 khz.


( .../... )

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As we can see on this regional map of New South Wales, we are going to start with the Outback. The first leg will take us from Condobolin YCDO to Hay YHAY, via Griffith YGTH which will be our alternate destination airfield if problems arise.




I decided to use the Cessna 177 RG for this first round. For those who wouldn't know this plane, here is a picture of the cockpit. No autopilot, but the plane is easy to fly and has a good electronic equipment, including a GPS.




We leave Condobolin shortly after 14:00 local. It is still a bit cold ( 54° F ) so no big change from Alaska. The sky is clear with scattered clouds around 5000 ft, visibility is 20 nm and we have a 12 knots westerly wind. I chose to take off from the secondary 28 clay runway.




I stabilize the plane at 2500 ft ( MEF for the flight is 1700 ft ). We fly over a mainly agricultural flat land with many water ponds.




After some twenty minutes, some few low clouds force me to fly under.




Once the clouds gone I can climb back to 2500 ft, and as we close on Griffith  I encounter some hills and wilder lands.




Flying over Griffith. No problem so we keep going...




Getting near to Hay, the rather low temperature and a nearby river have formed some mist and visibility goes down to 4 to 5 nm.




Thanks to the GPS, I have no problem finding the airfield for a direct approach on runway 22.




Once the plane safe on the parking, it's time to go have a beer in town...






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New South Wales  Day 2


The second leg takes us from Hay YHAY to Pooncarie YCPE, a bush village on the Darling River. We will fly over Balranald YBRN for a total distance of 150 nm.




As yesterday, departure is after the lunch coffee. The temperature is barely better ( 57° F ) and some clouds hang a little over 3000 ft. Wind is still there with 11 knots from SW, which is aligned with the main runway. Visibility is some 10 nm, not great, but we'll do with it.




Our flight going West, I choose to fly like yesterday at 2500 ft (MEF 700 ft). Soon after take off, the rural landscape disappears, but at this time of the year there is still some green...




As  we fly over a group of small lakes, mist is back and visibility drops to 6 nm.




We are shortly after over the airfield in Balranald. I am a little worried to go further in the bush if visibility would get worse, and I think for a few seconds about landing here. But I have a GPS, and if with real bad luck it would stop working, I have on my left an airport in Mildura YMIA with VOR and NDB. I decide to fly further.




The landscape under the plane shows we are back to civilization.  :)




As we fly some more, the visibility gets slowly better and we now have visual cues. Here we fly by a lake with the road going across, which tells me I am on the western edge of the Mungo National Park, which we can guess further on our right.




Now I just have to make a direct approach on runway 24 of  Pooncarie airfield.




Once landed on the hardened clay, the plane goes left and right and it will require a cautious use of the differential brakes to put it back on line.




This picture taken in the middle of summer when the grass is burned really looks like what I thought an outback village would be ! 




Luckily there is a place to sleep and drink cold beer.  :thum:





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As you can see the clouds are higher.  It is the result of the local real time METAR read by my weather engine. I'm not a specialist of australian weather patterns, but I'm going to have a serious look at it in the coming days so I can understand what's happening.


There seems to be quite some water where I'm flying (many small lakes and a river on my way) and since the temperatures are still quite low, I can suppose some mist is forming.


Edit : Just checked relative humidity in this zone is 84% at the moment.

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New South Wales - Day 3


This third stage goes further in the outback and takes us to the mining town of Broken Hill, on the west border of New South Wales, for a 100 nm flight.




Departure from Pooncarie early afternoon with a fair weather. The wind has turned to the east and calmed down to 6 knots.




We find on the way some lakes which are still full of water in this end of winter.




Then as we fly further northwest, the green landscape is slowly replaced by the typical red of inside Australia.








After some 45 minutes in flight, I am on finals on the main runway in Broken Hill YBHI. As with most australian airfields, there is no control tower. The main asphalt runway is oriented 05/23, some 2500m long. There is a secondary 1000m sand runway 14/32.




The airfield is also an important base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia




As I am about to taxi to the parking, we can see over the trees the mine terril. I am going to spend the week end here and have a look around.




Broken Hill has been referred to as "The Silver City", the "Oasis of the West", and the "Capital of the Outback". Although over 1,100 km (684 mi) west of Sydney and surrounded by semi-desert, the town has prominent park and garden displays and offers a number of attractions such as the Living Desert Sculptures.


Broken Hill is Australia's longest-lived mining city. In 1844, the explorer Charles Sturt saw and named the Barrier Range, and at the time referred to a "Broken Hill" in his diary. Silver ore was later discovered on this broken hill in 1883 by a boundary rider named Charles Rasp. The "broken hill" that gave its name to Broken Hill actually comprised a number of hills that appeared to have a break in them. The broken hill no longer exists, having been mined away.

The surroundings have been used for famous movie productions like " Mad Max 2 " or " The adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the desert ".



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An excellent adventutre Loic, really enjoyable to follow with lots of interesting points along the way. Tremendous set of shots really do show off the scenery and aircraft. Great job, look forward to more exploring.

Wish I had more time for flying these type of adventures it's what makes FSX so interesting, unfortunately it's silly season at work for me :)

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Thks for your comments, Graeme.  Fortunately, getting old has a few positive points, like having a lot more free time.  :)


I read somewhere that you really get old when you stop learning, so after one year in retirement, I'm still trying hard to explore and learn new things ... 

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New South Wales - Broken Hill


On arrival on Friday, I went down to town...




... and found a well named hotel for the weekend.




I take the opportunity of a nice weather on Saturday ( good visibility, almost no wind and nice temperature ) to make a flight around town with an ultralight. It is easy to spot the green patches of the South Broken Hill Golf Course in the overall red color of the landscape.




Northeast from town we reach the Stephens Creek Reservoir, created in 1891 by a private company. Since 1952 the fresh water for the town comes also through a pipeline from the Menindee lakes. There were recently times ( 2004 and 2014 ) when the lakes dried out, with serious consequences for Broken Hill.




Returning towards the town, we can clearly see how it is cut in two by the mine of lead, zinc and silver.






Here we fly along the northern side of the mine, and we can spot the railway station for the trains coming to load the ore.




Flying back towards the airport, we have a total view over the mining part of town, including closed premises and other still being used today.




I just have now to land on the small runway, keeping a good look around for traffic !




(*) The mine is one of the sceneries added by OzX and shown on the Plan G map with a yellow star. 

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New South Wales - Day 4


After having reached the border, we are today flying back East towards Ivanhoe YIVO with a waypoint over the Menindee lakes.




I take off from Broken Hill around 14:30 local with a fine weather. The air is dry so the visibility is excellent and the sky is clear. The only problem is that if a 10 knots wind blows at ground level from the west, it is 30 to 34 knots at my cruise altitude (3500 ft). This will account for a somewhat bumpy ride... but will shorten the flight !




As I am flying east, we can see in the far some green landscape again.




After a little over 20 minutes, I fly over the full Menindee lakes.




Some 45 minutes left and halfway I find another group of lakes. With all this water, the visibilty distance goes down and some clouds are forming above.




Approaching Ivanhoe, the surface wind is at 265° for 11 knots, so I choose to land on the secondary 27 clay runway. I signal my arrival on the 126.7 Multicom, all is quiet.




The parking is at the end of the main runway and there are already some people and planes there. We can see the BE 20 which is flying some regional connections.




In my own memories, until now Ivanhoe was this :




I just found out it is also a 200 people settlement ( and an airfield ! ) on the Cobb Highway, which is one of the least used roads in the region. Feeling like far out from everything...




I'm glad to find out there is a hotel, so I won't sleep under the tent tonight !




Tomorrow we fly back to our regional base.

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New South Wales - Day 5


Today we finish this first round and we get back to our regional base. We'll take the opportunity to fly over lake Cargelligo which will also be used as security airfield.




No reason to stay long in Ivanhoe, I take off at 10:30 local. The wind is still blowing from the west at 16 knots, so I will use the dirt 27 runway again. I will have to turn around to the East after take off, but it will be good to have some pushing wind !




Once again there is water all around, and with the ground temperature of 15° C it weakens the visibility. It is still around 15 nm, we had worse conditions...




Then after a half hour I meet some low clouds which will force me to fly underneath.






I get out of these clouds shortly before reaching lake Cargelligo.






Then it's back to home plate in Condobolin, where I will also have to use the secondary clay runway.




Next time we start with the northwest quarter round trip.

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I find the 177 easy to fly and the fact you have no struts and a high wing gives you a good all round view on the landscape. There is no AP, so you're busy through the whole flight. As you can see the landscape is mostly flat, agriculture and some forests and lakes, not many settlements. That's why it's called the outback, I guess...  In fact, like in real life,  I quite like empty places !  :)

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