So far, I've been lucky enough to tag along and travel to Cirrus events in Wagga Wagga, Bacchus Marsh, Deniliquin and even a tour to Tasmania. All of these trips have been with an IFR rated pilot and (with the exception of Bacchus Marsh), flown under the IFR system. For me it has been a fascinating glimpse into the next level of flying... through and above the clouds!
First trip was to Bacchus Marsh with James (commercial pilot with Avia/Cirrus Melbourne). James was excited about this flight because he got to hand-fly it the whole way...normally company SOPs dictate that the autopilot must be used for the cruise portion of the flight.
|Cirrus SR20 on display at Bacchus Marsh airport.|
|Dan didn't want me to leave without going for a fly in his plane, so he kindly took me up for a local jaunt! You can see the gliding club operating on the grass to the left of the runway.|
|James, climbing for an overhead departure back to Moorabbin.|
Next, was Wagga Wagga Aero Club's open day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't particularly helpful for all but the most highly equipped aircraft - low cloud, hanging around almost all day. Thankfully, Charles is qualified to make use of the ILS (instrument landing system) installed at Wagga for training airline cadets. It was lucky, because we only 'broke out' just above the minimum level required visually acquire the runway position.
|The SR22 GTS on display at Wagga. We used an open hangar for some protection from the passing showers.|
|On the return journey, I got to experience my first sunset/night flight in a General Aviation aircraft! It didn't disappoint.|
Not too long after, it was time to get back in the Cirrus with James and head over to a little town in NSW called Deniliquin. Normally, the drive from Melbourne to 'Deni' takes around four hours... The Cirrus covers the same ground in around one hour!
The weather was much better for this particular trip... No need for an ILS this time.
|Beautiful blue skies and friendly locals greeted us in Deniliquin.|
|In flight catering is important!|
|There was even time for a selfie on the way home.|
Next trip on the agenda was a big one: Tasmania! This would be my first serious over-water operation in a single-engine aircraft. We'd fly directly across Bass Strait, down to Hobart, up to Launceston and back home - spending one night in each destination. As well as life-jackets, we took a full life raft with us too. The extra weight of the raft was worth it, as the thought of floating around in the chilly Strait awaiting rescue didn't seem too appealing.
|Goodbye Victorian coastline!|
|There is a LOT of water in Bass Strait....Just in case you didn't know!|
|First glimpse of Tasmania.|
|The beautifully green North-Western Tasmania.|
|The hundreds of interconnected lakes and streams of the Central Plateau. Some of the most rugged landscape I've had the honour of viewing from the air.|
|Seconds after breaking out of the clouds at Hobart. Cambridge airport can be seen to the lower-right of the main runway.|
|Tying down FUF for the night at Cambridge airport.|
This flight - however short by comparison - was largely flown in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions, otherwise known as "in cloud"). Only a short time after leaving Hobart we climbed into cloud. Every now and again holes in the various cloud layers would line up, giving us a fleeting view of the landscape. Other than that, I have little idea of the places we flew over!
|Our view for most of the flight.|
|Mid-final on a rainy approach to Launceston.|
The next day, we displayed the Cirrus and AvPlan EFB to the members of the Launceston Aero Club. Once again, the club members and visitors were very welcoming and great fun to chat with through the day. Soon, it became time to turn our thoughts to our return journey over the Strait. We figured it would be best to pack the plane, go and grab some late lunch, then fuel up at the fuel bowser before departing. Unfortunately, after our lunch we pulled up at the bowser to refuel, only to find it totally unresponsive! No power at all. Not even the helpful club members that use the bowser often could rouse it from its slumber. We had to call the local refuelling truck to come over and fuel us. We eventually got our fuel, but we had to wait until all the big jets received theirs first - then the guy had to go and get the AVGAS truck. It had also been so long since he had processed a credit card payment that he had to get out the step-by-step instructions! We eventually managed to get away with plenty of sunlight to spare - it was just less of a margin that we'd have liked in a perfect world.
|It was awesome to mix it up with the big birds!|
|Back over the water!|
|An unforgettable view!|
Next adventure - time to do some of my own flying, and fly places myself!