Sunday, February 20, 2011

Playing with a Dash-8

I was weirdly left to run wild in a DHC-8-300 with the ground power unit connected. It was good fun, and we didn't touch anything we weren't supposed to, or do anything stupid before anyone asks or thinks that we did! We pretty much just sat there and i think the most outlandish thing i did was turn on the landing lights in the hangar. They are bright.

Here are some of the photos!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tropical Cyclone

There is a tropic low over Darwin at the moment. The airport is closed, and a few of the boys/planes had to overnight in Katherine. I was able to get back in before the really bad weather hit, but it was by the skin of my teeth, with the wind gusting to 30knots crosswind. When i left the cyclone warning had not been issued, and i didn't need alternate fuel. By the time i got back, the airport was below alternate minima, but i did not have the required fuel to get to Tindal, even if i had needed too. Instead i shot the ILS, visual at 900ft, severe turbulence, and windshear, but made a decent landing nonetheless.

Yesterday was decent IFR. Spent the majority of the day in cloud, shot 3 RNAV approaches to the minima, and even had to do one go-around, which is only the second time ever off an apporach (apart from training) that i have had to do one. It is very unnatural in the Titan, and you have to be very gentle with the geared turbo continental 520 engines. I did 2 ILS's, both with a lot of wind, rain, turbulence and low visibility. Good experience, and was really down to the minima. Becoming visual probably at 700ft, but that was with the approach/PAPI and runway lights shining through the muck. The ground was still obscured by the torrential rain. Good experience, but one can't help thinking that flying around in 35 year old piston aeroplanes in these conditions can't be good for the pilot, passengers or plane!

Anyhoo, till further notice, airport is closed and all flights cancelled or suspended.

Here is the Darwin TAF/TTF for those interested -

TAF AMD YPDN 152237Z 1600/1706
01025G40KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM160300 04035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM161200 08035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
FM161800 11035G60KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025
T 25 26 26 26 Q 996 995 993 992

TTF SPECI YPDN 160004Z 19017KT 2500 LIGHT RAIN SCT010 SCT045 OVC100
RMK RF00.4/001.2
FM0004 01025G40KT 3000 RAIN BKN005 BKN025

SPECI YPDN 160004Z 19017KT 2500 LIGHT RAIN SCT010 SCT045 OVC100 24/24

Basically issued at 8:37am on 16/2/11. wind is from 010 degrees and 25 knots gusting to 40. 3000m vis in rain, broken cloud at 500ft and 2500ft. From 12:30pm wind will be from 045 degrees, 35kts gusting to 60kts. QNH is 0997.

So essentially it is below the alternate minima, due wind, visibility and cloud considerations. Plus there is 60 minutes holding fuel required due to the 24 hour TEMPO period. The closest alternate is Tindal, which would need roughly 80 minutes worth of fuel with variable reserve.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tragic ending

This is a pretty sombre post, but i feel as though i need to say something, not only for myself, but for the tribute of a good friend. Jamie Stephens was a good friend to all the pilots up here, worked hard, partied hard, and was a loyal friend in every way. He followed his dream of commercial aviation like all of us and i was fortunate to work with him at my first job in Kununurra. The pilot fraternity in Darwin is close, and this is a huge loss to all of us.

He was only 22 years old, and had achieved so much in a short time. It's so tragic that he is not around to continue his dream and his goal. To say goodbye in such tragic circumstances is horrible and i hope to never witness, or see this happen to anyone else. RIP Jamie, you will be missed mate.. To your family, i can't even imagine what you must be going through.

It is such frightening wake up call. Flying is such an amazing thing, an amazing dream to follow. We love it and we do it so carefree. But something like this is such a wake up call and is something that all pilots either have already dealth with, or inevitably have to deal with eventually. On Saturday 5/2/2011, his Cessna 310 twin engine aircraft crashed 1 mile north of Bathurst Island airstrip at 10pm. The dangers of flying are very real. We must all do what we can to fly safe, for ourselves, or families and our passengers. I just witnessed that it can happen to anyone.

RIP Jamie, you were a good friend to a lot of people, and you will be missed greatly.