Monday, April 4, 2011

My last week of flying in the Northern Territory

Yup, thats correct, it's my final week of flying piston powered aeroplanes in the 'top-end' of Australia. Greener pastures await, and i'm moving back home, much to my parents dismay! (I don't think i'll be living there for too long - I think it's a mutual decision)

I found out the good news a few weeks back, and found out the really good news around 2 weeks ago, with a start date, my basing, and the type of planes i was allocated. To say i am stoked, is an understatement and it is literally a dream come true at this current point in my life. I worked incredibly hard for this position and don't think i have ever studied, practised, put effort into, stressed about etc etc more about anything. BUT thankfully, it all did pay off in the end, and i was awarded a job i have always wanted and cannot wait to start!

The only down side of all this, is the bitter sweet reality of it all. Don't get me wrong, getting out of general aviation is the goal, and has always been the goal. Handing in my resignation was definately awesome, but i am on good terms with all my bosses, trainers, operations etc. Going back to Darwin after visits home is the hardest thing in the world to do! I guess what i'm trying to say is the journey ends. It's been over 3 years abroad working in some of the remotest areas of Australia. 3 seperate moves to start at a new company and a new circle of friends to be made. And it starts again! But i'm incredibly satisfied with this move. I guess as it comes to an end i look back on it all with fond memories, but there have been some of the worst memories, some of the best memories, sad moments, fun moments.. memory loss many times and a lot of hang overs thrown in.

Anyway, i still have the drive from Darwin to Sydney, that will be interesting and long. I semi-dreading it, but it's a good feeling knowing it will be the last time i do it, and the last time i live in a remote area of Australia.

Anyway, in a flying related story matter of speaking. Just to make my last few weeks at work interesting they threw in another tropical low/developing cyclone to make the conditions extra challenging, for one last time. I also love passengers great comments. I'll set the scene for you. I was flying from Tindal to Lake Evella to evacuation the teachers due to the cyclone risk. I was in solid IMC and buildup, rain etc etc, bumps, weather radar painting a picture i'd rather not see. After arriving at the destination and buzzing around at the lowest safe altitude (no approaches into Lake Evella) i eventually find a hole and manage to get below the cloud, avoid the muck and visually land in Lake Evella. Upon getting the names and doing my manifest for the flight + weight and balance paperwork, i was asked possibly the best question in 3 years of flying.. "is it going to be bumpy or is there any weather on the way to Darwin?" I seriously looked at them and laughed and told them "you chartered a plane due cyclone risk, there is weather surrounding us everywhere and i'm 30 minutes late due to this weather - it's going to be smooth of course!" You ask a stupid question you get a stupid answer! That flight was acutally uneventful - a little bit bumpy at times, but ended up doing an ILS into Darwin, at night, down to minima's! That was a first for me. Was very cool seeing the approach lighting appear through the muck and then the runway lights.

However, my other favourite comments from passengers were "have you put enough fuel on for the flight?" followed by "are you sure you can fly this thing?" All you ever have to do is a good landing, and all of a sudden you are the best pilot in the world. I'm sure there are a million others as well. Weirdly when the engines on the 404 bog down, no one has ever said anything about that, and as a pilot i cringe when it happens! Strange. (Bogging down is too much fuel - and the engine as you apply take off power tries to die on you. Its our company procedure for this reason to increase power to over 29" of manifold pressure, while holding the breaks so if it does happen, you are not rolling down the runway at speed.)

Another first for me was doing an ILS to the minima as a storm front hit. Lets just say in 5 years of flying, that was the scariest landing i have ever done! Anyway, my thoughts for the week. I probably won't get a chance to post till i start the new job, so enjoy and i'll have a whole new set of pictures to post!


  1. Congratulations Mike! Just like Canada I guess, most pilots seem to have to go "North" for a few years before they can go home!

    I'm guessing the new gig has a much larger aircraft and a couple of kerosene burners in store for you?

  2. Congrats Mike, it has to feel good to have the end goal so close, and obviously very well deserved! Looking forward to hearing stories about the new job. When you're back in Sydney and not flat out in training give me a shout via my blog and we'll organise a beer or three at some point (when you're not rostered for the next day!)

  3. Always interesting reading posts from everyday life piloting! Looking forward to follow your transition to bigger equipment.

    Check out and follow my aviation blog:

  4. Mike: Congratulations - I guess. You seem to be most happy about some new job, but in the long 'blather,' yo manage to tell your readers absolutely NOTHING about said new job. IN re-reading your post, I'm not even sure that it is a flying job. Come on, our friend... Please give at least a few details. It is flying? OK, flying what?
    Of course, you do proof-read and edit your posts before yo hit the "GO" button, right? If you 'nip' a bit while writing, I can certainly understand. It is not cool when flying or planning to fly. Please be safe in all things. -C.

  5. Wow, what's with the insults and where are you from Cedarglen?