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Air Safari to Thursday Island August 2015

“WELL HASN’T IT BEEN A WONDERFUL TWO WEEKS!” said Greg Kennewell on standing to deliver thanks to RNAC Instructors James Rose and Georgia Morris on our last evening.  It certainly had been, judging from the round of applause from all around the table at the “Black Sombrero” in Lismore. As the menu said “not your standard Tex-Max fare”. The food was superb and lived up to the promises made in the advertising.

Flying over the Torres Strait

The restaurant was chosen by Georgia based on a strong recommendation from her friends living in Lismore, and illustrated the extra mile she and James had put into the Safari, with their organisation efforts extending well beyond the hours of preparation they put into keeping the Safari on track and all aircraft and their occupants safe ‘n’ sound. Ground based excursions in our additional night stopovers were an absolute highlight. More about that later.

We had quite an array of aircraft and pilots of varying levels of experience and skill. From your scribe, being the least experienced pilot on the safari, through numerous levels of student pilot, PPL’s, right up to our CPL’s, aged from the twenty somethings through each decade to the seventy somethings! The diversity of pilots was surpassed only by the diversity of Aircraft.

Trekkers Trek, Hikers Hike, and Fliers Fly but what to call the group of pilots, would be pilots, passengers, and leaders on this Air Safari? As photos show we were Mexicans by the end of the night, so “Safarians” was chosen from an array of terms offered around the table at the Black Sombrero.

The first and most outstanding memory I have from the Safari, is the “camaraderie” that developed among all Safarians. The willingness of everyone to find a way to contribute to the group should perhaps not have been surprising among a stellar group of like-minded people. But my expectations were definitely exceeded.


Magnetic Island

Second, everyone will have stories to tell on their personal experiences from a flying perspective. It was an incredible learning experience for me. I loved the longer sessions of hands and feet flying, lessons on navigation, both setting headings and coastal/visual flying were enjoyable both from a piloting perspective and just seeing parts of our lovely country that I hadn’t seen before and from a unique perspective.

I also learned a lot about airmanship, a long leg from Horne Island to Cooktown in particular was well planned and executed by our two instructors. A great lesson as a novice pilot about all the things that need to continually be weighed up as a pilot;  the weather, fuel, navigation, diversions and overall the need to be confident, well informed, resourceful and decisive.

Finally, all pilots were guided through controlled air space procedures, some for the first time and others for the umpteenth time, but the experience was valuable to all.

Whales were spotted from the air coming into Shute Harbour from Townsville. Lovely little airport with tricky landing for the novices.


Shute Harbour RWY14 Approach

We made the short trip on to Hervey Bay airport with more whales spotted from the air on the way in.

Ground excursions were a feature. To me the highlights were:

1. The Qantas Museum. It really highlighted difficulties and dangers of the early years of aviation, the critical role it played in overcoming the Tyranny of Distance in opening up the outback of Australia. A trip over a retired 747-200, and their first registered 707, which was reborn as luxury charter plane, were illuminating. For me again though, the highlight (among highlights) was the Catalina, which, in Qantas livery began a service from Perth to India to reopen the Air service to Europe through war torn Asia. The route averaged over 28 hours.  An incredible feat of endurance by both aircraft and airmen.

The gang at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach

2. Fishing Charter on Thursday Island.

3. Magnetic Island Moped Tour. The less said about Go-Pros and Mopeds in Queensland the better! However, at the end of the day, there was conversation among all participants that a Moped might just be on the “Fun Things Shopping list” of most!

Moped riding on Magnetic Island

4. Jet Ski tour of North Molle and Daydream islands. We all got wet but only a couple managed total immersion. For many it was a baptism to Jet skiing and suddenly the mopeds looked pedestrian, fun though they were. Much thanks to James and Georgia for the research in finding this fantastic day out. We also were treated to an educational talk about the reef and its wildlife, and fed sting rays and shovel nose rays, Barramundi and coral trout.

James and Greg recovering from their capsizing

With some planes staying at Hamilton Island, others flying directly back to Maitland from Shute Harbour, a reduced contingent braved inclement weather for the flight to Lismore, giving yet more exposure to controlled airspace and ending with our final nights dining and vote of thanks to James and Georgia.

The following day we flew home.

I recommend an air Safari experience to all members. I will most certainly be doing another and have made much closer connections to fellow members of the club than I would have thought.

David Morris

Student Member


Annual Wings Night 2014

The Royal Newcastle Aero Club Annual Wings Night was held on the 15th of November. The night is for the celebration of the achievements of our members over the past 12 months.

The flying achievements of our members from the past year include:
19 First Solo flights
17 General Flying Progress Tests/Recreational Pilot Licences
6 Private Pilot Licences
3 Commercial Pilot Licences
2 Recreational Aviation Australia Pilot Certificates
6 Emergency Manoeuvre Training Courses
1 Night VFR Endorsement

As well as these flying achievements, there were some other awards presented on the night.

Federation Awards: Ken Ladd-Hudson and Marj Davis

The Club Champion: David Kunkel

Graham Neal Memorial Trophy: Gordon Southwood

Student of the Year: Samuel Higgins

Scott Rankmore Memorial Award for Encouragement: Caitlin Baker

Club Captains Award for Service to the Club: Lindsay James

President’s Award for Service to the Club: Ken Ladd-Hudson


Congratulations to all, we look forward to taking you on even more flying adventures!

Wings Award Coverage in Newcastle Herald

Aero club flies high in aviation awards – Newcastle Herald coverage of our Award and Phil’s in the recent Wings Awards.

Click here to view the article.

More on our Wings Awards

Wings-Awards-Aust-Fly-MagHere are the Australian Flying Magazine profiles on our Aero Club and Instructor Phil Unicomb, winners of the inaugural Wings Awards 2014.

Click here to read – Wings Awards Aust Fly Mag

CASA Newcastle AvSafety Seminar

Newcastle-AvSafety-SeminarWe have been invited by CASA to hold a seminar for our members on,

  • – Part 61 Flight crew Licensing-Your new license Explained.
  • – The latest information on regulatory reform.
  • – Information about the new interactive education programs and resources available online to help you safe in the air and on the ground

The Seminar starts at 6.00pm on Thursday 25th September  and is expected to run for approximately  an hour and half  with a light refreshment provided.

If you would like to attend please call or email the office and leave your name as numbers will be limited .

Click here for a flyer and more information.

Click here to book online.

ACTION STATIONS – RNAC is getting our Social Club up and running.

nm_spring_cleaning_100317_mn1RNAC members are invited to come along to a Working Bee and Air Safari Reunion at the Club on Sat 23 (from 0900) & Sun 24 August (from 0900) to “Spring Clean” the Social Club building.

We are asking everyone attending to please bring household cleaning items so we can spruce up the area for our future use.  It will only take a short time to mop, dust, clean, sweep, and polish to return the Social Club into a great place to meet together for refreshments after flying or just when you visit.

CFI Phil, GM Tony and President Chris are excited about the prospect of having this area once again as a social meeting area for everyone.

On the Sat night CFI Phil is hosting his Air Safari Reunion. This will provide good old fashioned fellowship with all the people who have been on our recent or not so recent Air Safaris.  A lot of aviation chatter will be the order of the evening, as well as a few beverages to assist after a great day’s work.  You are welcome to stay over for the night if you do not want a long drive home, however, you will need to bring your own bedding to bunk down in the Social Club.  Male & female toilets plus hot shower facilities are available.

As RNAC does not have a Liquor License we ask that you BYO alcohol.  Soft drinks, tea coffee will be available.

The BBQ will be available for lunch and dinner on Saturday.  Also a BBQ breakfast is planned for Sunday morning for those who stay over or arrive early. BBQ will be free for all volunteers.

If you can come for a few hours or all day, your input will be most appreciated.  Naturally all attending can register on the volunteer’s roster to enter into the monthly draw for $100 towards your next aircraft hire.

So put the date/s in your calendar, grab the bucket, mops, dusters, detergent, paper towel, Windex, vacuum cleaner etc. plus some elbow grease and get alongside your fellow members in a show of solidarity of member power.

Many hands make light work – partners are more than welcome to come along and contribute to making the area look exceedingly beautiful.

Please call Tracey or Lyn at the Club to register your intention to be part of the “Spring Clean” and Air Safari Reunion.

Winner! Aero Club of the Year 2014 and Flying Instructor of the Year 2014

wings-awards-logo_CC49F830-7F39-11E3-85ED005056A302E6It gives me great pleasure to announce that Royal Newcastle Aero Club and our CFI Phil Unicomb have been voted winner of the Aero Club of the Year 2014 and Flying Instructor of the Year 2014 in the inaugural general aviation WINGS Awards.

These national honours were published in the Australian Flying Magazine September-October edition which has just been published today.  If you don’t subscribe, then grab a copy from your local the Newsagent.

The awards were a joint venture by the Australian Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Australian Flying Magazine in conjunction with BendixKing by Honeywell, Flight One and Fly Cirrus.

I would like to thank Greg Gibbon and Tony Savia who worked with me for over 6 weeks to prepare the Nomination material which was submitted on  26th May.

Every member can be justly proud of our Club and we can all now move forward with the knowledge that a panel of aviation experts have seen fit to recognise our Club as the Best in Australia with the Best Instructor.

Congratulations to Phil Unicomb and RNAC.

Ken Ladd-Hudson
RNAC Club Captain

Internet Service Outage – An apology

A note to everyone, we have been without Internet service for the past 4 days, we apologise for any lack of response to emails and will endeavour to catch up ASAP. We should be back up and running by tomorrow evening.

Flight Without Fear Commencing October

967000_200226566797463_92756246_oRoyal Newcastle Aero Club are running the next ‘Flight Without Fear’ course commencing October 15 and running for 6 weeks with the Graduation Flight to Brisbane on November 22.

The course involves behind the scenes excursions to places the general public can only dream about, including the tour of a jet aircraft cockpit and cabin, and the inspection of a real-life air traffic control tower.

The course includes 18 hours of training, course notes, a return flight to Brisbane or Melbourne with your mentor, and supper during the training. Full course information is available by calling Course Coordinator, Michele Patten on 0428 947179.

More information available here.

Night Flying Rescheduled – July 26th

night-flyingA message form the Club Captain:

It was again disappointing that owing to weather conditions, we had to cancel the Night Flying last Saturday evening.

We had over 20 attend for the Briefing by CFI Phil Unicomb and then they enjoyed a BBQ and videos.

The good news is that we have rescheduled once more to Night Fly on Saturday 26th July 1600-2130 (weather permitting).

Instructor James Rose has asked if you are attending, please be at RNAC by 1600 for the Briefing and Pre-flight aircraft checks.

Our plan on this occasion is to review the weather and if flying is doubtful we will contact each person registered by 1500 to let them know if postponed.

I suggest that if you do not get a call or have any doubts, please phone RNAC or myself to get the decision.  That way you will not make a trip for nothing.

I do however require you to please RE-BOOK for the Night Flying with the RNAC Office and ensure that they take a note of your best phone contact number.

Numbers will be limited to 15 as we will only have 2x Cessna 172 aircraft in operation, so please book early.

Cost will be $85.

Let us all hope for a clear winter sky and light wind favouring 05/23 for the 26th July.  Third time lucky.

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