Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alice Airport

I have a few photos of Alice Airport i thought i would share. For some reason Blogspot is being weird when i upload photos so i will do my best. Most of these were taken from the tower on a pretty rainy day for Alice. Whats normally CAVOK, was "expect the ILS rwy 12 approach." The cloud base was about 500ft off the deck.

Alice airspace is whats known as Class D. I dont know much about the rest of the world's airspace but class D means that it is all based on procedure and time. Basically clearance is via a radial and to stay above or below certain steps depending on clearance and whether you are IFR or VFR. What makes Alice airspace unique and slightly ancient is that there is no radar at all. It is the only tower in Australia to not even have a secondary radar to help them out.

Here is a photo of the guys in the tower. As you can see there isnt much in the way of modern equipment. But they do a great job with what they have.

There are 4 guys who work the tower, and working on the airport you learn their names and their individual ways of controlling. Sometimes its impossible to get a clearance being a VFR C210, other times you can get in with 3 jets inbound. For General Aviation planes, coming into Alice when instrument approaches are being used can be pretty difficult for fuel planning, as the closest Alternates are either 180nm or 250nm away. Which is a good hour and a half of fuel needed ontop of the fixed reserves.

These photos were taken on the viewing area on the control tower.

Here is a photo of a C-17, which comes in every tuesday for Pine Gap. Its callsign is always "reach 5 echo 1."

And to finish here is Alice ramp area on a normally sunny bluesky day. Thanks all for reading!


  1. Nice pics Mike, thanks for posting them.

    We've got a lot of Class D airports here in Canada, to be out of Radar coverage is definitely more the norm than to be in it...out in the sticks anyways, and thats a good chunk of our country...

  2. A Galaxie... woo hoo! (envious)

    Was once under the flight path when one took off (from RAAF Richmond), an aural experience I'll never forget.

    It flew past at a couple of hundred feet, presumably somewhere between V1 & V2.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Good report from Alice Airport! I'll bet the tower guys are always happy have a visit from a pilot. One of these days I plan to visit the tower at DFW. Actually there are 3 of them.