We had a grand total of 6 aircraft participating in this safari, and 11 people in total which included RPL, PPL, and CPL students.
Day 1 involved a wonderful trip down the coastline to Wollongong. Along the way we tracked down Victor 1, and enjoyed the sights of the Sydney beaches and skyline. Most of the safari team were able to enjoy seeing some whales migrating off the coast, albeit while maintaining a vigilant lookout for other traffic on the Victor 1 route. There was a plan to do some Sydney Harbour Scenic flights too on the way down, however unfortunately Sydney Terminal could not offer it to any of us due to congestion.
After landing in Wollongong, the team made the short walk over to the HARS museum and commenced a tour that lasted a few hours. A big thanks goes to all the volunteers at HARS who were kind enough to show us around, and tell us about the amazing array of aircraft they have there. We would encourage anyone with an interest in aviation to go check it out!
The team were a bit exhausted after the flying and the tour, so retired to the luxurious Shellharbour Resort (it’s a motel). After a quick break and a 20 minute walk, we found a nice sports club to have some food and a quiet drink before retiring for the night.
Day 2 started nice and early with a walk down to a local café for coffee, breakfast wraps (and a falafel wrap!), and a bit of flight planning. The original plan for our CPL students was to fly to Parkes via Canberra for a real challenge in Class C airspace, but the ACT weather was not too inviting. Eventually everyone departed to Parkes and enjoyed a flight over the very green NSW countryside. Parkes aerodrome had 2 rather large and long runways, and most students didn’t have any problem with them after being so used to what we have at Maitland. Parkes is home to the second HARS museum where again the team had a quick look around before heading off to see the famous Dish. The Dish celebrates 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission this year. While we did want to take some aerial photos of the site, the restricted area doesn’t allow that. It was another quiet night and discussions began about the next safari before the team retired.
Day 3 was the last day of this short safari as the team left early in the morning from Parkes. At 8am it was 2 degrees and there was plenty of frost to be wiped off the aircraft. The cold morning also did not agree with the Cherokee on the trip, as it took quite a bit of troubleshooting to get started. This is where the team went their separate ways as a 182 headed to Narromine, the other 182, 172 and Archer headed direct to Maitland, while the 172 and Cherokee headed to Mudgee. At Mudgee we enjoyed a coffee at a nearby winery which broke up the flight nicely. Also, by chance there was a beautiful Phenom 300 private jet parked at the airport and the pilot was kind enough to let us have a look inside. The pilot himself was a student of RNAC in the 80’s and now flies private jets out of Sydney for a living.
By all reports, everyone had a great time on this safari and we hope to do another one in the coming months.