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GAAR 2011 PIREP - Leg 8


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We got into Australia late in the morning and rushed out to Lavarack, Queensland, Australia which was a grassy dirt field and part of a very small military base. The Aussies were very friendly to this former Marine, and they wanted me to share a beer with 'em before I took off. I had to remind them that I was about to fly an airplane, and they looked at me as if I was crazy to turn down a beer. They were friendly, though, and before long, led me out to the plane that was sitting on the field and ready for me to fly out.

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I got into the cockpit and re familiarized myself with the spartan cockpit. All my time lately has been in Beech 1900C's with steam instruments (dials vs glass), but the DC-3's cockpit was a far cry from the Kodiak, Mooney Bravo, and even the C172's G1000 glass cockpits that I got really used to. Fortunately, I remembered what all those little round glassy things were supposed to tell me, so I figured we were in fine shape.

We checked weather and immediately got concerned because of extreme turbulence reported on our route. The ol' DC-3 was more than ready for some turbulence, so we kept to our 1400 departure time and got off exactly on-time.

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The runway was VERY short at Lavarack, and we just barely made it into the air with no room to spare. We had to milk the plane into the air and keep it just above stall speed for a while until we reached a safe altitude where we could level off, raise flaps, and gain some airspeed.

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We immediately took our turn to the North to continue on to Magnetic Island.

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Approaching the island, we were struck by the beauty of the reefs and the amazing color of the ocean. Flying around Southern California is a far cry from flying on the coast of Queensland.

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Once at Magnetic Island, we followed the coast to the North-West-most point of the Island before continuing on to Palm Island, visible just ahead of us in the distance.

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As we approached Palm Island (YPAM), we noticed the tiny field that was our waypoint. We were glad we weren't setting down there.

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We took our turn to the North-West toward the mainland and were met by some of the strongest turbulence I've ever flown in. As my flight instructor used to tell me, I didn't try to fight the plane as it typically has a tendency to come back to level flight or to settle back, but this turbulence was throwing the plane from side to side, the the DC-3 wasn't going back to level. I had to fight it quite a few times using maximum control input.

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We made it to the coast and were met by the front that was causing the turbulence.

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Once through the front and the turbulence, we were met by miles and miles of green jungle. We kept at 4500' which brought us quite close to the jungle at times, but the view was beautiful and I didn't want to get too high for fear of missing out on the beauty below.

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We finally came to our destination and began setting our flaps and engine for landing. I forgot just how much rudder you have to input for the DC-3 to make a nice coordinated turn (much more than in the Beech 1900C).

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We lined up for our landing at Chillagoe and all pre-landing checklists were completed.

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We touched down and immediately got on the brakes as carefully as we could to avoid a nose-in but ended up going all the way to the end of the runway (but did not go over!). A crosswind we hit just before landing and dealt with during roll-out made things quite interesting, but we were able to keep her on the runway (although on the right side).

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We sat at the end of the runway for a few moments collecting our thoughts and trying to figure out where to park the plane.

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Thus ended our trip 83.29 minutes after taking off. It was a beautiful and scenic flight although quite bumpy at times.

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Well done, E.J. - that was an epic take off, eh?!? The flight time looks good - thanks for getting us another step towards the finish. :thum:

Oh, yes - Kieran! On Leg 9, after the T&G at YMBA, did you fly to the "... middle of the largest island of the Finder's Group, west of Cape Melville"?? Andrew set that as Waypoint 2 and the diversion might be the source of your missing mileage?

Whatever, Lads, we're making great progress - Thanks! :clapping:

Cheers - Dai. :cool:

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