Saturday, December 01, 2007

More Weather!

This photo was taken on a recent flight from Adelaide to Pt Augusta. As you can see, it gets pretty cold at 20,000 feet, and on this occasion it was also very moist. The ice was forming all over the aeroplane, but built up particularly on the wing leading edges and the radome. You can see that the ice on the rubber leading edge has been cracked off by the de-ice boot, but it doesn't all come off. The propeller also picks up ice like this, and can get out of balance very quickly and send vibrations throughout the airframe. All in all, icing can be quite dangerous and we try to avoid it where possible. It's just nice to know that the aeroplane is capable of flying in these conditions....

Bush Clinic

Here are a couple of photos from the Balcanoona clinic last week. We dropped in to visit a mum and her three kids as you can see here. It was just a routine visit for vaccinations and checkups, and is typical of the work we do in the outback. You can also see the kind of terrain we have in the Flinders Ranges, and the airstrip is used regularly by tourists and charter operators so it is in good condition and raises no problems for us at all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nice looking neighbour

This little hawk is a resident of our hangar. He and his mate have a nest in the rafters and will soon have chicks to feed and care for. About the time the chicks are leaving the nest, the hangar will be torn down as we have three new hangars over the other side of the apron that we will be moving into next week. I guess the hawks will have to find a new home for next year....

Good looking oldie

Ok, here's something you don't see every day. This Sweringen Merlin 3A was in Pt Augusta for three hours with visiting government ministers for some kind of meeting. The Merlin was designed and built in the late 70's and this one is in excellent condition. They look like they're going a million miles per hour just sitting there. Actually, this one cruises at around 275 knots, just a little faster than the PC12. I couldn't resist a photo or two.

More scenery

I went to Coober Pedy yesterday, via the long way around Woomera restricted airspace because there were air force F111s messing around in the airspace and it isn't really too safe at times. The weather was hot an bumpy, with very strong winds on the ground and also at altitude. We were cruising at 24,000 feet when I snapped this shot of the salt lakes north of Tarcoola in (lower) central South Australia. We had rain very early this morning - though not very much - associated with some noisy electrical storms. It had all blown over by 0600 and the day just got warm and windy from there. On the way back, we got hit by a couple of really good bumps that would have put us all on the roof if we hadn't been strapped down. Gave us all a bit of a fright, especially the patient! It feels worse when you're lying down.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Marree clinic

Not specifically related to my aviation activities, but here's an interesting truck I see when I go Marree for the clinics. Marree is NNW of Port Augusta on the "Oodnadatta Track" - an old, disused narrow-gauge railway track. The trains haven't run through Marree for many years so it is a bit of a ghost town now, but there is still a human presence. I think the population is less than 100 now, and the RFDS has a clinic there with a full-time nurse living there to take care of immediate problems and help organise the regular clinics. There are a few interesting sights there, including three old narrow-gauge diesel locomotives that were obviously considered surplus to requirements and abandoned in the town. By now they've been well and truly vandalized of course, but they serve as a reminder of the once busy railway and thriving community. This is as close to a ghost town that I've seen in Australia.

Also note, the truck is "parked" right next to the fuel pump - I wonder which one of these machines "died" first?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oldtimer visiting Pt Augusta

A little while back, we got an overnight visit from a Douglas DC3 on an outback tour. There were about 20 passengers (I didn't count them, but they had a LOT of luggage), on a "round-Australia" trip that took about a month to complete. Not all the passengers did the full trip as it cost around $25,000 EACH (including all accommodation and expenses). They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and the old Gooney bird was in great condition. It also sounded marvelous!! However, I couldn't convince the crew to let me have a circuit - maybe next time....

Marree Clinic

Well, it's been a while since I posted anything to this blog, so I thought I'd let you all see a couple of shots of the Marree airfield and clinic building. We go here every month for the day and nowdays we take at least one doctor, one nurse and one psych nurse for the regular clinic. In addition, we often meet up with another of our crews with their Allied Health passengers (Dietitian, Dentist, Physiotherapist etc.). It can get a little crowded in the small building, but we all get along pretty well and people come from all around to see the various medical folks. Meanwhile the pilots settle down on the couch and read, sleep or watch movies while we wait to take them all home. Pretty tough part of the job.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

While we're talking about "interesting" situations.... this is my propeller de-ice boot after a night flight in bad weather. At some time previously, the boot had been struck by a rock or something like that, and the two layers of metal had been compressed together to cause a short. It happened that the first person to use the deice boots was me, and of course it happened in cloud at night. We had a real shower of sparks going, and the prop looked like a pinwheel. The doctor in the back noticed the sparks going down the fuselage past his window! Fortunately nothing more serious than a couple of hours fixing it the next day, but it could have been much more memorable if the boot had delaminated and caused an imbalance with the prop. That could easily have neccessitated an emergency landing (at night, in bad weather!). It pays not to dwell too much on some of these possibilities though....

Cracked windscreen

A little while ago, one of our pilots was taxying at Yalata Mission after a clinic, doing his checks and preparing for takeoff, when suddenly the windscreen shattered. As you see here, it is laminated and was therefore completely safe, but it nevertheless caused some worry at the time. I guess it was just the heat of the day and perhaps the movement of the aircraft that caused it. It is not the first to do this, but thankfully it is quite rare all the same.

The aircraft was flown back without passengers, at low level and unpressurized just in case the outer layer shattered too - this would cause the entire window to cave in of course. Fortunately, nothing more serious than a warm and bumpy trip - and a good story to tell.

Sunset at Port Augusta

Just one of the many beautiful sunsets here in "the bush". These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago when we had a lot of dust around and they certainly brightened up my day at the time...

More wildlife

Since we're talking about wildlife.... here are a couple of visitors we had a few months back. Walking along the airport access road - dad and chicks. I've not seen so many chicks before - I thought they just had one or perhaps two at a time. As you can see, they didn't worry too much about me clicking away at them. They just wandered about like they owned the place. I'm told by those that know, that this is the FATHER of the chicks, and that the mother probably would have left him just after laying the eggs. He's had to keep them warm until they hatched and rear the chicks now, while the mother has gone off looking for another mate to do it all over again.... not too certain about Emu morals!!

Just imagine KFC serving up Emu drumsticks.....

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tuna fishing

On a recent trip to Port Lincoln for a patient, I had occasion to fly over a bunch of these rings on the water. I had only recently become aware of them and it was interesting to see modern tuna fishing in action. Because the local tuna stocks were in decline several years ago, and there were strong indications that the fishing was no longer sustainable, some clever folks got together to set up these floating nets and stocking them with tuna. They feed them three times a day and monitor their health for the entire time until they are big enough to "harvest". With the price of tuna being around $25.00 a kilo in the market, I guess it must be working for them.

Summer storms

On a recent trip to Marree in the far north, I had to weave in and out amongst a few thunderstorms. This picture of the weather radar shows part of the action, and it is one of only two photos I managed to get without blurring (I took about a dozen but there were so many bumps that most were of no use). Anyway, the magenta and red areas are large storm cells, with heavy rain and turbulence. The lightning flash indicates electrical activity, and at one stage I had these symbols all over the screen too. Funnily enough, by the time I got to Marree, there was no rain falling and the wind was no problem. However, there were large areas of raised dust as seen in the other photos.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More dust.....

I had a patient to pick up yesterday from "Prominent Hill" - just west of Coober Pedy. I must say that I didn't see any hills, but they have an open cut mine there so it may be that the hill is now gone..

Anyway on arrival, as I flew downwind I noticed a HUGE dust devil working its way towards the runway. It eventually went right across, and as I'd widened my circuit deliberately to avoid it, there weren't any problems. I didn't have the opportunity at that time to get a photo, but about fifteen minutes later I snapped a photo of a much smaller one doing the same thing. At that time I saw about four in the area.

Also interesting to note that the mine has HUGE tipper trucks for moving the gravel around and there is a track that goes past the end of the runway. As I approached, there was one waiting to cross under my approach path. I'm glad he waited because he's probably 40 feet high and would definitely have caused some consternation otherwise.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Dust Storms

The other day I had a patient to pick up from Ceduna (about 1 hour west of Port Augusta) and the conditions at home were pretty horrible. Temperature was about 104 F and we had strong winds and poor visibility because of dust. The photo here was taken about half way to Ceduna as we cruised at 20,000 feet. The dust went to over 10,000 feet and as you can see, it made it impossible to see anything on the ground. Fortunately, we fly with some very sophisticated navigation equipment so this wasn't a real problem, but it looked interesting all the same.