View Full Version : A few flying stories

29th Jan 2009, 16:42
Thought I might do some reminiscing, and jot down a few stories, they are all true. Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed :O

...unless you're from the CAA, in which case this is a load of outrageous bar bragging, full of colourful stretches and out-right lies. (The out-right lies being any bits that I could still be prosecuted for. ;) )

The Flying School Years

I learnt to fly at a flying school in Australia, part time. This led to a considerable period as a private pilot, where I could hire and fly aircraft, as I was finishing the Commercial course.

During this period, I decided to each myself aerobatics. Now I'm no fool :hmm: - I DID read a book first. So one fine day, in a Piper Warrior, with a friend along for stupidity support, I reefed back on the wheel to achieve what I thought was a nice vertical, performed an acceptable stall turn (my first manoeuvre), then as the nose yawed around to point straight at the ground. It was then that I discovered that pointing straight down is A LOT more frightening than pointing straight up! :eek:

I reacted calmly :mad: by attempting to pitch the nose up as quickly as I could and discovered my SECOND manoeuvre - the spin! :yuk: As I am writing this, you can see that I managed to sort that out and return safely to earth. I did, however, find an instructor and aerobatic aircraft to complete my aerobatic course. :O

I completed my Commercial and Instructor ratings with the same school, and joined the staff as an Instructor. I was a great school, with a long history, led by an absent minded 60 year old genius Chief Flying Instructor, let's call him "Pat".

Pat had taken a Cessna 210 (cracked and junked) turbo charger, and added it to the 327 cu in (5.4 litre) V8 engine of a '63 chevy Impala (brush painted with pink house paint). :D He had used junked Piper Warrior parts (windscreens etc) matched with two different outboards to build his own speed boat. He had taken apart several computers to build his own electronic music studio in his house. The school simulator was an old Link Trainer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Link-trainer-ts.jpg), which he lovingly kept working with wire and cotton reels as pulleys (literally!). He also had very little idea of what we instructors were getting up to. :E It was fun, after a few drinks in the bar late at night, to have a group scramble into the old Link, and spin it - which the next morning would send Pat into a fit of cursing as he spent an hour or so flicking his cotton reels and adjusting his wires to re-calibrating the thing.

29th Jan 2009, 16:45
Building hours for my instructor rating, with Pat on the back seat going over some theory with my fellow trainee (I know - a bit strange, but the flying was fun) Pat noticed an ultra-light grass strip below, and ordered a landing to visit a friend of his. There was no trouble landing, as the strip was quite muddy, but the friend we had dropped in on wasn't home. getting airborne was another story, as every time the aircraft struggled up to 40 knots or so, it would plough through another mud puddle. I was about to give up when Pat leaned through from the back seat and pulled full flap on the flap lever - which is when I discovered that a Warrior will accelerate faster in the air, even with full flap, than ploughing through mud on the ground! :D We still only just made it over the fence, though :ooh:

A fellow instructor (the same one from the aerobatic experience!) and I approached him about learning the art of formation flying. His reply was; "Go out and practise it a bit, and when you think you're ready come and see me and I'll sign you off." Now I was a little surprised by this :ooh: , and thinking of the aerobatic experience, I asked him how close he thought we should get. I got a raised shaggy silver eyebrow in reply, and the comment : "Just don't hit each other, OK?" :ok:

Now I'm no fool :hmm: - I DID read a book first. So one fine day, in a couple of Piper Warriors, with my friend along for stupidity support, we took off to learn formation flying. After a couple of hours of practise, we were getting pretty good, as went to get signed off, and after a couple of formation circuits to demonstrate our competence we were fully approved formation pilots!

We thought we would celebrate by filling a couple of aircraft and flying to the Ballarat airshow. Wizzing into the circuit (crosswind join) in an aircraft filled with friends, I reefed a couple of 60 degree steep turns around a tight circuit, ending with a nice touch down, and only then remembered that I was supposed to be leading a formation of two aircraft - however my friend had managed to hang on around the circuit :D (Although taxiing in, we were asked if we were to park in the performer's section, or the general public section :hmm: )

One night, as I was about to head home and the sun was setting, I saw a friend with the keys of the old Piper Cherokee Six in his hand, lets call him "Baron". Now this Cherokee 6 was a bit of a legend around the school. It was painted in sun faded pale blue, had purple tinted windows and a velour interior :yuk: It just about qualified as an antique. The instrument panel was a study in WWII avionics, you had a cylinder head temperature gauge where the artificial horizon usually sits and you had to roll to the left to see the altimeter (as the altimeter was behind the control wheel, at the bottom right hand corner of the instrument panel)

One (quite short) instructor had taxied it around to the front of the school to pick up a charter group, only to taxi through their carefully stacked luggage! (the six has a very long nose, with a baggage compartment between the engine and the cabin, so the view directly in front is quite restricted - especially when the main gear oleos (Shock absorbers) are shot.) One instructor had a total electric failure at night, and only just managed to guess where the runway was, one ("Mike" - you'll meet him later) had both fibreglass tip tanks split and drain in flight and I had a prop hub seal split, with the screen covered in oil. Despite all of that, it was a great aircraft as it had the most desirable qualities for any struggling pilot - it was very cheap to hire, would carry a good load, and was quite fast - 170 knots in the cruise (or an ASI which over-read by 20 knots ;) ) probably due to the amount of body weight lost to corrosion over the years.

I asked Baron where he was going, and he told me he was flying the Six up north to Wangaratta, to pick up a friend of his and fly him back. As I was short of night experience I asked if I could tag along and he said he would be glad of the company. We both headed out to the aircraft, clambered in, and headed north.

Sitting cross legged on the front seats (nice, wide cabin), rolling a cigarette (hey - it was a while ago!) I looked out the window and noticed one of the visual reporting points for Melbourne Control Zone drifting under the wing. "Baron - can you pass me the map?" I asked, and received a sheepish look in reply, with an admission that he had forgotten it. "Well, I think you'd better turn right, before we're cleaned up by a 747 or something, then." I replied, and started to fiddle with the radio to get Melbourne up. We were either not on frequency quickly enough , or managed to exit the zone before being noticed. Heading north on guesswork and memory, I asked Baron if he had seen the Maintenance Release. "Ahh, no ... forgot that too!", "Did you sign the aircraft out?", "Er, no .. I was going to...."

29th Jan 2009, 16:47
"OK, so technically we are flying a stolen aircraft, without any idea of the maintenance status and which is prone to mechanical problems, without a clearance through the controlled airspace of an international airport, at night, without a map or flight plan?"

"Yep - good thing we're instructors, eh? You'd have to yell at a student for something like that." :suspect:

We finally arrived at Wangaratta, to be met by a tray of shots as we had managed to turn up in the middle of a party at the local aero club. Obviously I wasn't going to get home that night, and Baron found out that, if you are thrown into the local sheep dip pond, the plastic Jep calculator in your pocket fuses together :E Late the next day, despite flying through a local aerobatic competition at Mangalore (should have made an effort on the NOTAMS), and getting caught at 10,000 feet by ATC (in those days you had to file a plan above 5,000 feet) we managed to return the aircraft with no one the wiser. :)

Only that aircraft was so rubbish that you could steal it for two days, and no one would notice. The fact that Baron and I were also gone for two days with no one noticing says nothing about our ability or popularity, though! :8

I did manage to end up teaching both aerobatics and formation flying, being quite the expert (I HAD read a book about it, you know!) One fine day in an Aerobat, my student completed a roll, then asked me if the controls were "supposed to be like this". Taking over, I found: first - the student didn't have a very fine feel, and second - that the ailerons (but not the elevator) were locked solid!

Managing to return the aircraft to the field on rudder and elevator control, it was only on the ground that I discovered that the cotter pin on the end of the control column had snagged the radio harness inside the panel. I once had one of the tailwheel springs on a Decathalon separate in flight, which left me with about one quater rudder (despite full opposite pedal) and a difficult side-slip landing.

The flying club I was instructing at had a good bar facility attached to it - always a handy mix for a bunch of 20 year old flying instructors! That bar was a fascinating place for a young pilot. Full of characters, you could find Wardy (Learjet pilot and local cafe owner), "thirsty" Hirsty and Hoots (two free-lance contractors who could fly anything on the field - Hoots ended up with his car filled with horse manure one night!), Pat C (when he wasn't in Pentridge Prison, after allegedly swapping lead with the police in a "Zorro" mask), an official WWII Lancaster Bomber pilot and JT - owner of the fanciest brothel in Melbourne (brothels are, very sensibly, legal in Melbourne!)

One of the bar games was to shimmy up the flag pole in the front yard, and write your name on the top. The trick coming down was to remember the cleat (the bit were you tie off the rope), and put your foot on it, before jumping off. Imagine (well, let's call him "Dillon")'s surprise when he forgot this little fact as he slid down the pole. The cleat entered his inside upper thigh, and exited through his scrotum, tearing it open in the process. :uhoh: Dillon found himself being stared at by a bunch of startled, fairly drunk mates, as his feet dangled half a foot above the grass.

I don't know if you have ever seen half a dozen fairly sozzled people attempt to lift someone off a flag pole cleat and take him out to a car, but it is only funny in hindsight! (Although, it is QUITE funny then :E ) There was a delay as the owner of the car didn't want blood all over his back seat, and someone had to pick up Dillon's (still attached) testicle and place it on his thigh for transport to the hospital so that everything could be stitched back into his scrotum :yuk: . Dillon made a full recovery, though (which he INSISTS to anyone who finds out this particular story :E )

In an attempt to earn more cash, I managed to borrow a 172 for a couple of weeks, and determined to make my fortune joy-riding tourists in the summer. Teaming up with Baron, we borrowed a friends Ute, threw a couple of 44 gallon drums of AVGAS in the back with a hand pump, and headed off to Apollo Bay. We did manage to get permission to use the strip from the council, although they wanted quite a bit of cash for "insurance" reasons. One set of camping chairs and a hand written "Joy Rides!" sign later, and we were in business! Now you read of pilots in the '50s making a load of cash doing this, but we barely covered costs (and I don't think we ever did pay the council..)

It was a nice break, though, and when the girlfriends made it down, we loaded them into the plane for a joyride around the 12 Apostles (some formations off the coast in the area). After making a nuisance of ourselves with the local tourists, we decided to land in a local field for a closer look, using our expertise as Instructors! :} Flying a text book "Precautionary Search and Landing" procedure (which in training and teaching we had only flown down to 50') we discovered that actually landing is a lot different to flying over at 50 feet! The girls got out and wandered around, oblivious to the discussion WE were having on whether we were going to be able to get the aircraft out of this tiny, rough paddock. :ooh:

In the end, as we roared towards the fence, with the screen full of sheep's bums bounding in front, I remembered Pat's trick of using full flap. I swear we must have bounced off the top of the fence as we hopped over it, to continue the take-off roll on the other side :eek:. It was a VERY quiet flight back to Apollo Bay ....

29th Jan 2009, 16:49
Back at the club, we were always chasing multi-engine time, in an effort to progress along the flying ladder. Speaking to a contact given to me by Pat, I found a doctor who owned two Piper Navajos, and as a low time pilot himself, would be willing to rent them to low time flying instructors! Not knowing much about aviation, he even priced them well below market - TWO wins there then! We managed to get Pat agree to do the endorsements, even though he hadn't flown one himself for years.

Now I'm no fool :hmm: - I DID read a book first. So one fine day, in a Piper Navajo, with seven keen young ignorant flying instructors along for stupidity support, and Pat in the front right seat, we were flying circuits around the field and swapping seats on each downwind leg. :eek::ok: I think we managed an average of seven minutes training for each endorsement! :D We talked any student we had into those aircraft, for any reason we could think of in order to try and learn how to fly them.

One night in the Bar, I was talking with another instructor about a new Navajo on the field. This was a fine corporate job, big engines (350 HP instead of 325) and a full corporate leather interior. All very exciting for a couple of junior Instructors, with only night VFR ratings, and about 10 hours multi-time between them. It was so exciting, in fact, that we wandered out into the night to have a look at the thing parked under the tower.

Peering into the windows, we of course found the door was locked. At this point, we remembered that Pat had a shoe box full of old spare keys in his office - so off we go to fetch it. On getting back to the aircraft, we found that the very first key we tried, opened the lock! :D Now that HAS to be a sign from God, right? ;)

So we clambered into the thing to have a look. The mini-bar and leather layout was interesting enough, but as pilots we both jumped into the driving seats. This aircraft was fitted with the (at the time) latest King avionic set-up and a three axis Altimatic-5 autopilot. This was the stuff of flying instructor dreams, and we had to turn on the master switch and power up the systems to see the indicators and lights twinkle in the night. Absolute magic! :ok: Wouldn't it be brilliant to take it for a little spin .... := :E

Now the only "time meter" in this aircraft was an air-switch - a small tab of metal on the outside fuselage that is pushed back by the airflow in flight, and runs a small clock inside the aircraft. In the shoe box was a small eraser, which we broke in half and jammed behind the switch to prevent it working. With this switch stopped, the only way to know the aircraft had flow would be to notice the missing fuel - and no one would notice a few minutes worth, right?

Jumping back in, we started up, and called the tower to taxi out for a local flight. Getting airborne was magic, and in the training area we could dial up the local VOR and connect the autopilot to it this aircraft would fly itself, AND navigate! This was special then (in the days before GPS, even) - a truly exciting piece of kit to play with. After just a few minutes we turned around to head back to the field, ... and that's when the trouble began ... :ooh:

(No it wasn't when we decided to steal the aircraft, for those disapproving readers := :hmm: )

Turning over the ocean, to head back to the visual reporting point for the airfield, I said to my partner in crime "You know, it's funny, but I can't see many lights." Time to tune up the ATIS, which had " ... cloud 8 OKTAS at 500 feet ... " (and the rest I couldn't understand in the shock.) All of this low weather had rolled in behind us, as we took off, and we were only Night VFR - no instrument training to shoot an approach into the field (and it was below limits for the NDB anyway) :eek: :eek:

Stuck in a stolen aircraft, with IFR weather at the field ...

We turned away from the airport to discuss our options:
"We could land at Tyabb." (a small gravel strip down the coast)
"We don't have any frequencies to turn on the lights."
"We could fly around until the tower closes in an hour, and then sneak in."
"But it could get worse, and they'll notice an HOUR of fuel missing."
"We could ask for a special VFR entry"
"But that'll call attention to the flight, and we aren't supposed to be flying.."

29th Jan 2009, 16:52
In the end we chose option 3:
"Hi tower, we're uh .. five mile south east (:mad: more like eight) .. and we can see the field (:mad: rubbish!) ... request a special VFR entry." .. And we were lucky enough to get one. :ok: If we run fast enough on shutting down, at least they won't know WHO pinched the plane. (Hey! It was a plan, OK! :uhoh: )

Stuck in a stolen aircraft, with IFR weather at the field and calling attention to ourselves with a Special VFR ...

So now you have two flying instructors, scudding along in and out of cloud at 500 feet, peering out of the windows and arguing:
"That's Boundary Road ..."
"No, that's Springvale Road, make a left at Lower Dandenong ..."
"Sh!t, turn right, up Howard ..."
The tower must have known we were being fast and loose with the truth, as we were in and out of cloud at 500', on downwind.

Time to drop the wheels - CLUNK - two green lights. :hmm:

Stuck in a stolen aircraft, with IFR weather at the field, calling attention to ourselves with a Special VFR and with only TWO wheels down ...

"Cycle the gear! :eek:"
CLUNK - two green lights.
"Test the globe!" ... "It's working fine." ... "Wiggle the pedals, and yaw it down" .... "Nothing." ... "Do we tell them we have a problem?" .. "And be met by the Fire Service? With a stolen aircraft?" ... "Can we head back out to the training area and sort it out?" ... "After a Special VFR entry to get in? You don't think they'll ask questions?? :hmm: " ... "Take the controls - I did the take-off, it's your landing! :ooh: :hmm: " ... "Pump the emergency gear handle, then ..."

Stuck in a stolen aircraft, with IFR weather at the field, calling attention to ourselves with a Special VFR, with only TWO wheels down and pumping the emergency handle ...

29th Jan 2009, 16:55
Turning Base, reduce power, and the gear horn goes off BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP
Tower: "Clear to land"

Stuck in a stolen aircraft, with IFR weather at the field, calling attention to ourselves with a Special VFR, with only TWO wheels down, pumping the emergency handle and broadcasting the gear warning siren over the radio ...

On final: "The tower is on the right, the fence is on the left, if the gear collapses, we run to the left." (Hey! It was a plan, OK! :uhoh: )

So, BANG down the landing, and the aircraft stays upright ! :D :ok: :}
Taxi in, with the constant Gear warning over both tower and ground frequencies, and park the aircraft where we found it. Quick shut-down, and outside to grab that eraser..... bugga! :uhoh:

The Navajo has inboard gear doors, which only close after the gear is down and locked (or up and locked) - and of course these are all hanging down, as the gear is only giving 2 greens, so it is obvious to anyone who looks at the aircraft, that it has been "interfered with". :{

We slunk home, and came back the next day to watch the aircraft. We sat in the office chewing our nails and watching the aircraft, cancelling students to stay by the window, then ... at lunch time ...

.... an engineer sauntered out to the plane, taxied it away and completed a standard 100 hourly inspection! Everything fixed and no one the wiser ! :ok: :ok: :ok:

That's the last time I steal a plane - you only have to tell ME twice! :ouch: :ok:

During this time, I lost two flying friends, one a suicide after killing his girlfriend in a car accident, and one in a Pitts Special, checking out an older guy who was returning to flying. :sad:

... Part One of Three, if anyone wants to read any more.

29th Jan 2009, 17:23
Good stories - well told. Thanks.
I'll probably pass them off as my own.....

Foxy Loxy
29th Jan 2009, 17:54
Part One of Three, if anyone wants to read any more.

If you wouldn't mind :ok:A superb read - please continue :O

Strange Frontier
29th Jan 2009, 20:01
Yes, please continue. Haven't laughed so hard in ages.

29th Jan 2009, 20:22
Wonderful CB, keep going.

29th Jan 2009, 20:41
As our careers progressed, all of the flying instructors I was working with eventually bought instrument ratings. The school we were working at, however, didn’t have an IFR charter approval, so there were a lot of skull-duggery “fly by night” charters going on, in order to gain experience. By this I don’t mean that they were not legal, as guys were scrambling to find other licence holders to operate with, but secrets had to be kept to avoid losing the instructing job, or having another instructor cutting in on an operation. Oh, and some of them were illegal :E

I managed one charter to Maryborough, in Western Victoria for a 21st birthday party, in a Partenavia. On the day, however, the aircraft I had organised was not available, and in desperation to find another, I was forced to borrow a single engine Piper Lance from the club president (as I knew his daughter ) Checking out the aircraft (which was a lovely, full IFR fit) I found it FULL of fuel. This meant a maximum load of around four medium people. When the five booked guys turned up – I found they were ALL bigger than me – and I am six four and (at the time) 95 kilos! :eek:

Did I give up the charter (and associated cash) … :hmm: ... well, I told them they couldn’t take their luggage (they HAD hired a “boom box” which I felt a bit guilty about) and to get into the aircraft. :rolleyes: Thankfully, by this time I was experienced enough to provide my own stupidity support, as there certainly wasn’t any room for anyone else in that aircraft! :cool:

Of course the wind was favouring the shortest runway on the field. As the aircraft groaned its way out to the runway, I figured we were about 250 to 300 kilos overweight, which is a LOT in a 1650 kilo aircraft.

Well, roaring along the runway, I pulled the stick back at 70, and got nothing, at 80 I got the nose up (and nothing else), at 90 I dragged the wheels through the grass and into the air. Runway 13 heads out over the water (thank god) as I took quite a few miles before I was high enough to turn the aircraft! Still the good news (apart from everyone living, that is) is that I charged for a twin, but only had to pay for a single, so I made quite a packet from the trip! And learnt a scary lesson never to attempt that again! :O

One charter involving a friend, lets call him “Mike”, involved a group of opal buyers flying north to the opal fields, with a million dollars in cash. Mike was contracted at the last minute, and spent all night running around organising a Beechcraft Baron to fly them (and keeping everything secret from us).

Taking off in the morning, and flying out over the hills, Mike started to feel a little off colour. :yuk: Sitting in the front right hand seat next to Mike was an opal buyer on his first aeroplane ride. Mike started to feel REALLY off colour, a problem he solved by collapsing unconscious over the controls :bored: This tended to upset his passengers, something they conveyed to him when he woke up:
“You’re fcuking kidding, right?” they conveyed in loud high-pitched voices, as Mike turned on the Auto-pilot, then collapsed again, out for the count this time. :zzz:

Now the guy in the front seat decided to grab the controls, and found them quite difficult to move (with the Auto-pilot being on), so he looked for the last switch Mike had touched, and managed to turn off the Auto-pilot. :ugh: Mike then began to convulse, probably not a protest, as he was still unconscious at the time.

This incident became quite famous for a while around Melbourne, as the passengers managed to find the radio, and were lamenting their position to Melbourne Area for some time. The Air Traffic Controller was assuring them that (according to the flight plan) they had hours of fuel, and they would be OK. Which shows the limitations of a little knowledge, as they had about 15 minutes until the auxiliary tanks ran out (and I doubt that they would have found out how to change tanks in a Baron.) The one piece of good information they received was to lean Mike’s seat back, and loosen his clothing – which got his circulation going, stopped the hypoxic convulsions and managed to wake him up. Mike landed at the next airport, and lost his medical. The passengers took a bus.

After a year of medical testing, Mike regained his medical and began flying again. :)

Back at the school, I was concerned about how slow career opportunities were, so after a little research, I managed to find a freight company that would sell me a jet endorsement. A bit of bargaining and I managed to talk the price down, if I bought a friend, so my friend of the aerobatic and formation experiences (let’s call him “Dave” – because that’s his name ;)) headed up the Hume Highway to Sydney. With a week of … er… “lubricated study”, we managed to soak up enough knowledge for a Westwind endorsement.

On return to Melbourne, Dave managed to swing the best job in the world – 12 months on a $US1000/night tropical Island, transporting VIP guests in a Cessna 336 Skymaster. Bastard. :mad:

I was stuck as an instructor, with the occasional Westwind standby job, until I applied to an advertisement in the paper and scored a full-time Westwind freight job in Darwin. I have never had more pleasure than writing to Dave with the news :E

During this time a friend murdered his ex-girlfriend then shot himself, with a shotgun. :sad:

The Freight Years
(this may take more than three posts)

29th Jan 2009, 21:18
OK! OK! That's all fine and well, and somewhat interesting, but when do we get to Cockpit Kerplunk?

On consideration that will be a while yet, until you are flying something with a big enough CB board to make it interesting, so I will not bate my breath.;)

29th Jan 2009, 21:30

Good stories!

ps: Tell us you are writing this just for the fun of it and not because of a terminal illness.
You know, this "last chance to put down my memory" syndrome.

29th Jan 2009, 21:36
Just for the fun of it! - Although the "Put my memories down for prosperity" thing DID cross my mind. I have 15-20 odd years of career left (barring lawsuits :) ) however I DO own a motorcycle ;)

Howard Hughes
29th Jan 2009, 21:49
All these stories just enforce the fact that my career has been incredibly boring...:{

However I can attest to having a similar Lance experience almost word for word, except add in 32 degree heat, yeah you get the picture!;)

PS: Keep em coming by the way, they are great!:ok:

30th Jan 2009, 09:56
Ref motorcyclists, why do A&E Departments refer to them as

DONORS? :confused:

PS, looking forward to the "Freight Years" bit!!!!! :ok:

30th Jan 2009, 14:04
The Freight Years

Darwin, in the Tropical far north of Australia is the entrance to Australia’s “Wild West”. At least it was a bit wilder when I was there than it is now. (Although I am sure that those in the 70’s, before Tracey, would say the same, and the cattlemen of the 50’s would laugh at the TV watching 70’s people. Those guys in the 40’s would have thought the 50’s “easy times”, what with getting bombed by the Japanese and all … and so it goes :) )

When I was there, however, the main street still had regular full-nude strip shows next to five star hotels, the wonderful Art Deco “Darwin Hotel” (with its bar, “The Pickled Parrot”) still existed and pubs in the suburbs came equipped with “Cage Bars” – a square of concrete, surrounded by cyclone mesh to hold in the fighting drunks and thrown bottles :}

We were still in the aftermath of the ’89 pilot’s dispute, and you couldn’t shake a tree without being hit by a couple of unemployed pilots. With most of them living in share accommodation (those that weren't sleeping in trees) there were some terrific parties. One I was pleased to attend featured motorcycles running through the house, people jumping off the roof into a local tree (a la the scene in “Rambo”), running lawnmowers being thrown from the roof into the tree (to try and make the landings smoother ;) ) and the front fence being knocked over (which was a pretty good effort, as it was a double brick fence). :ugh:

The freight run we had involved starting at 6 pm, flying to Alice Springs, then Melbourne and returning at arrive back at Darwin at 6 am in the morning. Eight hours flying over 12 hours duty :zzz:, twice a week.

Flying into Melbourne airport one evening, I had to fly a go-around off runway 16 in un-forecast fog. It is a truism that people build airports on the cheapest land - which seems to attract the most fog, even when all else is crystal clear. New to the job, I was flying with our chief base pilot and training Captain (lets call him “Pete”).

I handed over to Pete as we were vectored around for the second approach, and cleared to land on runway 27. Now Australia doesn’t have weather bad enough to justify Category 2 or 3 landings (landing in fog), so all runways are category one, with a required 800m visibility with a flight director (which we had) and 1200m without. Now Pete, determined to land, held course for a slooooow look at the minima aaaaaaaaaaaand theeeeeeere it is - and managed to land (with a visibility of perhaps 400m :cool:). We felt our way through the fog to park and shut down.

As we got out of the plane, a ground staff car roared up to us. “Oh, here we go!”, we thought, “We’re going to be done for busting the minima.” The ground staffer leaped out the car, eyes like saucers and panting like he’d run the Stawell Gift. “Did you see that car? :eek:” he cried! “What car?” was our response. “The car you just missed on the runway! :eek:” was his return. The Westwind has the landing lights on the tip tanks, either side of the cockpit. In fog, two solid beams project forward, making it impossible to see anything to the side, and difficult to see much ahead. :8

It turns out that one of the controllers had left the tower to answer a call of nature, and in the busy period following, the remaining controller had “forgotten” about our landing clearance. He had then cleared a Lauda 767 to cross the runway, led by a “Follow Me” car as the Lauda pilots couldn’t see far enough in the fog to taxi out to runway 16. As we landed, the “Follow Me” car had entered the runway, and we passed about a meter in front of his nose on our landing run! Two seconds later, and we would have hit him (and, more importantly, been killed), the 767 was also on the runway, behind the car. Twenty seconds later we would have hit him (and more importantly, made the world wide news!)

That was an official “near death” moment.

The company employing me had its head office on the east coast, three and a half thousand kilometers away, and the four pilots flying the Westwind were left pretty much on their honor. :E As the aircraft has a jumpseat (well, a tool box with a seatbelt and a cushion) we could take illicit hitchhikers to Melbourne and back, at a cost of a bottle of spirits or case of beer each way. We almost never had to buy alcohol in Darwin, although hiding the hitchhikers when an official company passenger turned up caused some difficult moments.

As part of his contract package, Pete was also issued with a company car, an EB Ford Falcon Station Wagon (“Estate”, for those in the UK). We all piled into this car for a weekend trip to Litchfield National Park – an hour or so driving south of the city. Now, if you head far enough south of Darwin, you encounter one of the few places in the world with an unrestricted speed limit – that is you can drive at any speed you consider safe.

In a company car, that speed is obviously “Let’s see how fast this thing can go” :E

Heading down a long hill, with Pete driving and his foot flat to the floor, the second hand car managed to creep past 200 km/h – considerably better than the quoted 180 km/h top speed!. As Pete lifted his foot off, all hell broke loose. The gearbox seized, the T-bar hit the roof of the cabin with a bang, the tailshaft twisted in two underneath the car and the section projecting forward from the differential began whipping around under the car – if the end had gained a grip on the road, it would have jackknifed up the rear of the car like some demented pole vaulter. The car was swaying back and forth, spitting metal and oil across the road – and all at 200 km/h! :eek:

Well, Pete managed to pull the car up about five kilometers down the road :ok:, where we managed to hitch a ride with a bemused local in his Land Rover. It took two days to recover the car, and a lot longer to convince the boss that “The gear box just let go, at only 110 km/h – what are you trying to do? Kill us with an unsafe car??”

The Somatogravic illusion

The take-off at Alice Springs on a dark night is a real “black hole” affair, and with the tower closed, completely uncontrolled. One evening, taxing out our traffic was an Ansett 146, inbound for a landing towards the north, while our take-off was towards the south. Now he was a little earlier than he said he was going to be, and we were a little later, so as I rotated the windscreen was full of BAe146 landing lights at about 800 feet! Keeping a wary eye on the lights, I began a right hand turn to avoid at about 300 feet. Pete then called out “SH!T !! Pull UP!”

I heaved back on the controls, and looked down at the cockpit instruments, where I saw a rate of descent of 1000 fpm, and a radio altitude of just 50 feet.

That was another “near death” experience, about TWO seconds to impact on the desert floor, with no chance of survival. It was over 15 years ago, and my heart still races thinking about it.

The somatogravic illusion occurs with high performance aircraft, and a lack of visual cues. As the aircraft accelerates (which it does with take-off thrust if you lower the nose) the sense organs of the inner ear are thrown back – and the head assumes that it is pointing up into the sky (i.e. still climbing.)

The problems with distractions are that they are so distracting in fact, if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be distracted :) The trick to survival is realizing that you are distracted.

Pete’s 14,000 hours experience was looking at the instruments when my 1,400 hours was looking out of the window – and that saved our lives. (It’s funny how you don’t appreciate 14,000 hours experience when you are in your mid twenties with 1,400 hours ;) )

30th Jan 2009, 15:00
More, more, more!

casio man
30th Jan 2009, 15:59
Yes, can we have more please!

30th Jan 2009, 16:03
The Westwind is a brilliant aircraft. A straight wing gives it docile handling – even up the point where it has no artificial stall warnings whatsoever. No bells or buzzers, no shakers or pushers, yet it still climbs to 45,000 feet. In fact, when I first started flying it, the upper limit of controlled airspace was at F430, so you could climb above CTA. (Australia subsequently raised the upper limit to F600.)

We used to begin descent at double the altitude, minus 10 (about 40 miles closer than an airliner), and descend at Mmo into Vmo (0.765 Mach into 360 knots) – and hold that 360 knots until 10 miles, for a 90 degree intercept on the ILS! Using the speed brake, and selecting gear and flap at the limits, you would just cross the fence, still in flight idle, at Vref. Who says freight pilots are cowboys :O

I enjoyed flying it so much, when an RAAF F1-11 force came to Darwin, I looked up Jeremy (Jezza) my best friend from the Academy, and had a great night comparing the different operations in the Darwin Officer’s Mess. :ok:

Dave finished his year on the tropical island, and returned to Melbourne. I was able to do a “Tom Sawyer” whitewash about how great flying 12 hour night freight shifts were and as Dave was endorsed (and wanted the currency) I introduced him to Pete, and had Dave fly the plane for me for a week, while I received the pay. When Davin, the other Westwind FO I had shared a flat with for 18 months, moved on to fly on the east coast Dave was already checked out on the run, so he was employed to fill the position.

Dave and I had a great time in Darwin together – sometime too great a time! :bored: Driving back from the city nightclubs, in the (repaired) company car, we were stopped for a random breath test by the local constables.

Now, I didn’t mention it at the time (well, it isn’t a flying story), but one night as a flying instructor at the bar I had been doing rather well in the local pool competition. In fact, I came second – but in doing so had to stay for quite a while. At the end of the night, Dave had convinced me (against my better judgment, I assure you :hmm:) to drive him to the next bar for the night, following the crowd. Turning the first corner, we ran into a booze bus (a police random breath test stop) and I lost my drivers license for a while. :oh:

If you ever lose your license (and believe me, I don’t recommend it!) – don’t do it in Victoria. Apart from the suspension, I had to attend (and pay for) DUI courses, have the police inspect my home, apply to the court for the right to drive again and take up “P” plates for three years (which I managed to get out of by changing to a Darwin license – they didn’t have “P” plates :ok:).

Perhaps you think I am shallow, when I tell you I was delighted when Dave blew the same reading that night in Darwin that I had two and a half years previously in Melbourne. :E One of the great differences between the Territory and Victoria (I discovered that night) was that Dave was arrested and taken off to prison! :p

The police kindly offered to drive me home in the company car, so I climbed aboard and headed off. “What do you guys do for a living, then?” from my police driver. “We’re pilots!” I chuckled. “I hope your mate’s not flying tomorrow then!” he smiled. “Yep – He is!” I chortled (at 6 pm the next day, about 20 hours away, although the police guy didn’t know that!) “You realize you friend is in serious trouble? :hmm:” he frowned “YEP! Throw the book at him!” :p
At this point he shook his head and gave up.

I had great fun bashing on Pete’s door: “Wake up Pete – we have to go and get Dave out of prison!” :D Now, how many chief base pilots have heard THAT call?

It was shortly after this that I moved to the east coast to take up freight flying on Barons and Navajos.

About three months after I spoke with Jezza, he was killed flying his F1-11 on a night exercise in New South Wales. :sad:

Davin was killed about a month after he left Darwin, flying into terrain attempting a visual approach at night in rain. :sad:

A month after I left Darwin, a Westwind crashed on the ridge just north of Alice Springs airport. Killed were Terry, a friend Dave and I used to drink with at “the institute”, the Captain, who Dave and I had both flown with several times and his FO who I had met in Brisbane. :sad:

Dave landed just a minute before the crash, and witnessed the fireball. After reporting the accident on the radio he still had to fly down to Melbourne and back to Darwin, passing over the wreckage on his return. :uhoh:

30th Jan 2009, 16:43
OK! OK! That's all fine and well, and somewhat interesting, but when do we get to Cockpit Kerplunk?

I was during those loooooong Westwind nights that I invented Autopilot KerPlunk! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KerPlunk_(game)) :)

If you are on a long boring flight, this will liven up your day:

Autopilot KerPlunk!


Each pilot takes turns choosing and pulling a circuit breaker
The pilot who pulls a breaker which drops out the Autopilot loses!

I reckon you can get about half of them out, as you work through non-essential systems (like lights) or unconnected monitoring systems (like fire detection) before you find a system that the autopilot needs! :eek:

... note: "Autopilot KerPlunk!" is a joke! :} You would have to be suicidally reckless to play this for real :ugh: :ok:

30th Jan 2009, 19:20
note: "Autopilot KerPlunk!" is a joke!

You keep saying that ... and the more you say it the more I wonder.:eek:

30th Jan 2009, 19:31
I didnt know that Davin had died
Terry(AJS ), I had in the past hired in me shoppe
Rumour has it the IWJ may have been kerplunk?

31st Jan 2009, 11:39
Come on CB, your audience awaits. You shouldn't let work (etc) interfere with important things.

31st Jan 2009, 12:34
CB, me thinks you'll do yourself out of a tidy wee income if you keep posting your fine stories for free. Why don't you pull them altogether and publish? I'd buy. :)

31st Jan 2009, 12:58
On the east coast, my job was to oversee and fly the company’s “bank run” operation. A “bank run” involves picking up a load of canvass bags (containing various bank paperwork) along with any general freight in the early morning in one of the major east coast cities. The pilot then flies a “bus stop” route through six or eight country towns out to the far outback, dropping off bags, newspapers and freight along the way. Finishing at a small town deep in the country, you then grab four hours rest in a motel :zzz:, before flying the opposite route, picking up the return paperwork and freight at each stop on the way back. A typical day begins at 4 am, and ends at 7 pm, flying two or three days a week in a light twin engine piston aircraft. This particular company operated some Barons, a Navajo and an Aerostar.

The first thing I noticed was that the pilots flying the routes loaded the tanks with fuel in the early morning. This was fine in the early days of the route, however as the freight loads increased over time, they never rethought the strategy. This meant that the tanks were full, at the same point in the day when the freight load was greatest, and they were flying quite a bit overweight. So much overweight, in fact, that when one aircraft had engine trouble in the cruise, even with full power set, the aircraft only just managed to fly a constant two or three hundred foot per minute descent back to the runway. :ooh:

In General Aviation in Australia, an attitude exists where young pilots end up breaking safety rules simply because they are unwilling to mention the problem, in fear for their jobs. :bored: Many times the problem exists only in their minds, however – after all, if you never speak up, the problem can never be fixed. :ugh: In this case, the simple solution was to load the fuel at the point where the freight load was lowest – out in the country. The fuel cost more, but the management was in complete support, once they were made aware of the problem. :D

While I was in the area, I looked up Barry Hempel, and flew both with him and alone in his Pitts Special. Barry was quite a well known character, owning and operating several war birds, and quite well known on the airshow circuit. Flying with him was both interesting and a privilege!

Flying a small twin alone, in the cold still morning air, is very satisfying. Not to mention that, once out in country Australia, you can fly for an hour or more, and never climb higher than 50 feet above the ground, should you so wish. :E In fact, should you want to barrel roll the aircraft (turn it upside down), or shut down an engine and fly a single engine approach for practice, no one will ever be the wiser. ;)

With the aircraft parked at the country town, and with plenty of time on my hands, it was my habit to conduct a fairly thorough inspection of the plane, as well as refueling. Each engine on the Baron has two cowling panels, one on each side, which are hinged on the bottom and held shut in flight with eight or so spring loaded fasteners – which sit flush when closed, and require a Phillips head screwdriver to lock or unlock. In order to inspect the engine cylinder heads for cracks, and with nothing better to do, I would take the time to open up the cowls as I waited for the refueller to come over and ask me about the fuel load.

With the arrival of the freight loaders, it was time to get the operation under way, jump in and taxi out. Line up, and roar off down the runway. You may have guessed the problem already as, just getting airborne; the left outer cowl (which I had closed, but been too distracted by the refueller and loaders to fasten) decided to flip open and proceeded to beat itself to death against the engine. :eek:

Now the aircraft had just been painted, and I had visions of the nicely painted cowl tearing from the hinge and disappearing over the Australian countryside. With wide eyes staring at the problem, I reached out and pulled the throttle on the left engine to idle, and to my immense relief, the cowl stabilized, to hang open by a foot or so. :ok:

The problems with distractions are that they are so distracting in fact, if they weren’t, you wouldn’t be distracted :) The trick to survival is realizing that you are distracted.

31st Jan 2009, 13:02
While staring out of the left hand window in relief, 300 feet or so above the ground, full power on the right engine and no power on the left engine – the stall warning sounded! :eek:

For those readers who are not pilots, When only one engine is running, that engine pulls the nose of the aircraft to the side – and the pilot corrects this with the aircraft’s rudder. The rudder, like the wings, needs air flowing over it for it to do its job. When the stall warning sounded (which is a low speed warning) it was telling me that both the wings AND the rudder were about to stop working, I was about to lose control and flip upside down – and at 300 feet there was simply no room to recover. :eek:

That was a near death moment.

In the mornings, with the rush of loading and getting away, it was easy to miss things. On morning, as I began my take-off run, I realized that the Air Speed Indicator wasn’t working – and I knew why. Pulling the aircraft to a stop at the far end of the runway, I set the parking brake and said a little prayer that it would hold as I leapt out of the aircraft and ran around the spinning propellers to remove the pitot probe covers (which I had forgotten to remove before starting up). Back in the aircraft, I spun the aircraft around and took off in the opposite direction, over the heads of the startled loaders.

Later that week in the bar, the boss sought me out :uhoh:, and wandered through a rambling story of a pilot who had a door open during the take-off run, and how it would have been safer to continue. :} Obviously our loaders had been telling him some stories and he had made his own assumptions. I didn’t bother to tell him any different – but I DID stop telling stories to the loaders. :suspect:

Now, I'm no fool :hmm:, but I have also taken off at times with the nose locker open, the window open and the door open. One of the pilots managed to get airborne and fly his first sector, looking at the fuel cap hanging off :uhoh:

That's the last time I do a sloppy walkaround - you only have to tell ME twice ... er ... three ... er .... four times! :ouch: :ok:

I managed to gain interviews with both Ansett and Qantas (at the time Australia’s two major airlines), and the company management both gave me leave, and helped with my travel. Perhaps they wanted to get rid of me ;) Successful with both, Qantas sent me a bill for the medical so I told them where to stick it :ok:, posted the bill back to them and headed south to join Ansett. :D

Barry’s Pitts Special crashed later that year, killing the pilot. Barry himself was killed last year, when his Yak-52 hit the ocean east of Brisbane flying some aerobatics. :sad:

... next:
The Airline years.

31st Jan 2009, 13:09
Can't wait to read about his Ansett overnight stories. :E

cockney steve
1st Feb 2009, 14:41
Thanks for some wonderful tales, Checkboard :)

It's great to hear the "i shouldn't have done that" stories. kind of reinforces my belief that a lot of performance parameters are EXTREMELY conservative, wether they be aeronautical, marine, domestic appliance or automotive......your continued survival would tend to confirm it.

keep writing!

2nd Feb 2009, 01:15
Fantastic stories Checkers - keep them coming please! :)

2nd Feb 2009, 17:03
The Airline Years

A year or so after joining Ansett, I began to read and post articles here on PPRuNe. As a result, this section has been CENSORED, as some of the night stop stories involve past and current members of this website, especially as one of those members is now my wife!

It is a feature of the Australian aviation scene that pilots spend several thousand hours’ experience making all of their mistakes in General Aviation before joining an airline. (In my time, a pilot simply need not apply to an airline with fewer than three thousand hours’ experience or so.) Airline operations are much more regimented in their safety procedures, there is greater support for maintenance and crewing and better training. All of this makes for a much safer operation – so there are naturally no “near death experiences” in this section. (And those of you who are passengers, wondering if I have been your pilot, can breath a sigh of relief) :)

I was trained by Ansett on the BAe 146, and based in Perth on Australia’s West Coast. The Perth base flew the 200 series of the aircraft, and the main difference between the 200s and the 300s (which Ansett flew on the east cost) was the cockpit layout. The 200s didn’t have any “modern” computer displays, but simple “steam driven” mechanical instruments.

Ansett had a great rostering system. Each month a package featuring details of every flight from the base was distributed to the crew, then everyone could then log onto the computer, and bid for the flights they wanted. You could bid either as specifically as listing each trip or flight number, or generically such as: “Three day trips”, or “one day earlies”.

The crews were placed onto a list for bidding preference, and that list rotated each month. If you found yourself at the top of the list, you could book any flying you wished, at the bottom you generally had to put up with what was left. As the list rotated completely each nine months, annual holidays were shared equally as the years rolled by. Flying was adjusted to ensure that everyone received the same amount of work (and thus pay) each month.

Apart from the flexibility of being able to book your days off, this system resulted in one specific side benefit. Married crew, with families would book Monday to Friday single day flying, as much as possible, while single crew would concentrate their work into multi-day trips away from home. This meant that, if you were a single pilot in a hotel on a trip, most of the cabin crew staying with you were also single :E

Generally I would fly three-day trips. A typical trip would start at 5:30am in Perth, operate through Broome and Kununurra in the north-west of the state, and then end up in a nice hotel in Darwin at 2 pm or so for an overnight stay. The next day at midday, I would fly to Gove and Groote Eylandt (country towns in the Northern Teritorry) before ending up at 8pm or so in Cairns, Queensland. On day three, starting a 3pm we would fly to Alice Springs and Ayers’ Rock before returning to Perth at around midnight. The majority of the night stops had enough time to enable you to spend a good night out, with plenty of time to recover for the next day’s flying. Four or so trips similar to this each month resulted in 12-18 days work a month, and about 700 hours a year flying.

Note: this is "setting the scene" - the stories as such are to follow. ;)

2nd Feb 2009, 23:04
F/Os would study the blocks for the following month. The captains would pick their preferences first and they would then be posted so that the F/Os could then decide so that their choices were to some extent based on whom they might be paired with. Obviously the most senior F/O would get their first choice and so on down the seniority list. There were certainly some captains with whom you would not particularly want to spend a month. Let alone a succession of months. There was one captain, for instance, who month after month was with the most junior F/O, who despite the latter's bidding preferences being such that this captain was always his last selection, ended up with him anyway. Overheard a memorable exchange between these two walking into the car park after sign off. Went something like -

Capt - Well, see you tomorrow Ron. And look I've been meaning to ask you, why is you always seem to be flying with me these days? Do you enjoy it so much?

F/O - Frank, please don't take it personally, but it's called the short straw.

(Frank gets in his car with mysterfied look.)

Needless to say, by and large the happiest F/Os were those who were senior enough to generally get their first choice of available blocks.

2nd Feb 2009, 23:11
The car being an old shitbox jap crapper with a Mercedes star fixed to the bonnet? :rolleyes:

Needless to say, by and large the happiest F/Os were those who were senior enough to generally get their first choice of available blocks.

Especially if you made your money running a real estate business or some such :rolleyes:

2nd Feb 2009, 23:16
I was going to add the "Bid to Avoid" system. :} As the Captain's roster was made up before the FOs, the FOs could "Bid to Avoid" Captains. One friend of mine, after a particularly trying trip with a particularly trying Captain, walked into the office at the end of the day - and in front of the man himself logged into the bid system, selected "Bid to Avoid", looked at the guy and said "That's the end of that, then",

Then marched out. :D

Great CRM tool, as the managers would be forced to call in Captains with many Avoid bids, and have the discussion "Look - it's not a personality conflict with one FO - when it's all of them it's a personality conflict with one Captain" :p

Of course, as mentioned above, when it was all of the FOs, being at the bottom of the list meant a "married" roster with the worst Captain. :O :*

2nd Feb 2009, 23:17
Think we need to get a few folks from the Military Forum on here....

"I did a snap roll and came up behind him with all guns blazing". Missles, hell. they're for woozies.

3rd Feb 2009, 00:01
Who could not like being with an old codger who said little but when he did, said a lot, succinctly? Scene - Norfolk Island (home of many descendants of Fletcher Christian) in car driving through Burnt Pine, hostie looks out window and sees new Lions Club sign over gates to sports ground LIONS PARK 'Well look at that , Lions Park. Haven't seen many lions round here. Have you Tobe? ' Tobe - 'Nah. You won't. All fed to those bloody Christians.'

Same bloke once caused a ground handlers stop work, telling a wacker who got up his nose to go and get f.ed. Management after some crafty talking with Tobe got him to agree to go over to the whistle stop meeting and apologise. Tobe ambles straight up to his protagonist. 'Ah, ya know I told you to get f.ed?' 'Yairs?'

'Well you don't have to.' Much laughter. Meeting abandoned.

Call them days of wine and roses.

8th Feb 2009, 15:48
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 security throughout the airline industry was tightened up considerably. Before this however, it was common to invite passengers onto the flight deck to see the technical side of the operation. After spending four days on a trip with the same pilot in the cockpit, you knew everything you wanted to know about them and their family, so it was a relief to meet some of the passengers.

As the airline sponsored various charities, we would help out by holding a charity raffle for the jumpseat in the flight deck for the landing. If the young, pretty girl in seat 26A won, then the large, old businessman in 26B could sometimes be heard to mutter “Damn – that was nearly me.” Well, I am here to say – no it wasn’t! ;)

Kalgoorlie is a gold mining town about 45 minutes flying east of Perth. With a large population of men, strippers were a common feature in the bars about town, and a regular shift change occurred every Friday. Given that most of the passengers were miners, the girls were easy to spot as they boarded the plane. It was simple to brief the Purser (especially if he was male) to issue an invitation to one of them for the jumpseat for take-off. :}

Once the aircraft has taken-off and climbed to cruising height, the workload reduces sharply enough to allow a bit of conversation with the jumpseat passenger, and on these occasions the conversation would invariably begin: “So … now that we’ve shown you our job …. “ :E

Inviting passengers to the flight deck wasn’t always a pleasant experience. On one occasion, as I turned to look at a little boy, he sneezed directly into my face – spraying me with snot. :yuk: Three days later, as I checked into the hotel in Broome, I began to feel a little off-colour. The next morning, we were due to fly Broome, Alice Springs, Broome and finally back home to Perth. I felt terrible – with a full-blown flu infection I could barely function on the flight deck. Curled up into a ball in the corner for most of the flight, and only uncurling for the take-off and landing, I suffered through the day in order to make it back home. That is the only time I have operated when I simply shouldn’t have been anywhere near an aircraft. It took nearly two weeks to recover.

Operations in Australia are a little different to those in Europe. Where every airport I operate to in Europe has an ILS on each runway, only about one in five airports in Australia had an ILS. The rest were either NDB or VOR approaches to circling. It was standard company operating procedure to turn off both the autopilot and flight director, and fly the final approach “raw data”. Once at the minima (of around 600 feet above the ground) you can then descend to a 400 foot visual terrain clearance if you need to in order to circle around the airport and land. Flying the final approach in “raw data” prepared the pilot for flying the low level circling procedure, and following the contours of the earth at 400 feet had to be flown by hand. Roaring around in an airliner like a 737 at 400 :ooh: feet is never seen in Europe.

Where Europe enjoys complete radar coverage, only one in seven airports enjoyed radar, or even a tower for our operations. Normal approaches were hand-flown circuits and traffic was simply handled with a radio call at 30 miles, as we flew inbound. Some pilots would append their radio calls with “IFR jet”, in order to point out that although the aircraft was 30 miles away, the aircraft would be in the circuit in five minutes – and this would be answered by the professional pilots in the area with “(cough), [email protected]” :) :D

Nightstops in Broome were at the five star beach resort “The Cable Beach Club”. The interesting thing about Cable beach is that it is the town’s nudist beach! :E It was always interesting meeting the flight attendants on the beach while going for a walk after work. :ooh: :E If you were less lucky, you might meet a well-known local, known as “Tripod”. :yuk:

One F28 crew found themselves with a full day off in Broome, and decided to spend that day at the beach, as you do. The challenge with a day at the beach in Australia is to remain properly hydrated with cool drinks. This was fine, until they were caught carrying the cooler back to the room on a beach towel. The hotel objected in writing to the airline, as the cooler was actually one of the room bar-fridges :D They had spent the day with a hotel bar fridge sitting between them on the beach :p

8th Feb 2009, 18:44
Ah yes, story time.

My first full time flying job was in a place called Kununurra. (YPKA) It's a new-ish town built about 40 years ago for the Lake Argyle project.

Any way, there was lots of flying to be done and to say it was fun was an understatement. Kununurra is a MBZ and thus had compulsory radio calls.

Ansett were the only jet operators there, operating Bae 146s and F28s.
Some young, enthusiastic newby guys in Ansett used to love appending “IFR jet” to every radio call. Also for 9 months of the year it was severe CAVOK!

Since they were the only IFR jet operators it was a bit of a tautology to let us know that the Ansett inbound was indeed, a jet. An IFR jet in case we'd forgotten.

"All stations Kununura, JJW, an IFR Jet is 30 nm to the NE, 5000' , inbound estimating Kununurra circuit (or 5mile final) at time XX, JJW IFR jet"

Repeating "Kununurra" is fine as is the callsign. If the RT is clipped, you'd hear the station in the middle part of the tx.

So, after a arvo in the Tavern (Gullivers aka 2nd home) and a few beers, we'd come up with a response. Note, most of us flew piston singles (a couple of Twotter pilots around too).

Our response was thus

"All stations Kununurra, WOU, VFR piston, 30 nm to the south, 3000', inbound, estimating Kununurra circuit at time XX, WOU VFR piston" :E

Childish. Yes. :}

Effective. Oh yes. :ok: Ansett soon dropped the "IFR Jet"... :D

Paradise Lost
8th Feb 2009, 20:16
Top tales Checkmeister....congratulations on your literary skills and survival. Next time I'm Downunder, I shall take lots more care to avoid any aeroplane being flown by a chap with a 'Strine' accent, in case it's you doing more training!
I thought military training in the 60's and 70's was fairly hazardous and haphazard, but now I realise that our apprenticeship was childsplay compared to how you Aussies learned to master the skies! :ok:

8th Feb 2009, 20:39
One of the more unusual flights we performed on the BAe 146 was the Christmas and Cocos Island run. These are two Islands about 1200 miles off the coast of Australia, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and south of Indonesia. Maintaining these Islands as Australian Territories extends Australia’s fishing zone through 1500 miles of the Indian Ocean, ;) and in return, the Australian government subsidises a regular airline service between the Islands and Perth in Western Australia.

Beginning from Perth the service flew north to Learmonth, a mothballed military airfield on the far northwest tip of Australia. Refueling there, the route then ran west, over 1200 miles of Open Ocean. This is probably the furthest commercial route operated by a BAe 146, and the aircraft were fitted with pannier extended range fuel tanks to complete the job. Even with the extended range, the aircraft could only carry enough fuel to reach the Islands, once there it was land or ditch into the sea, as no other land was within range. :ooh: Each leg consequently consisted of a deal of fuel planning, calculating the last point of return back to Learmonth, and off track diversion points to Jarkarta in Indonesia. Once these points were calculated, it was necessary to call the Island on the HF radio, to check to see if the weather was suitable to commit the lives of passengers and crews to continuing the flight to the Islands. :cool:

The round trip to Learmonth and both Islands resulted in a 16 hour day, with 11 hours flying, and in order to complete it we carried a "heavy" flight crew of two Captains and one First Officer. The FO, being the only right seat qualified pilot, had to be "in seat" for each take-off and landing, resting in the cabin for most of the boring cruise bits. :ok:

Christmas Island is a rock surrounded by 400 foot cliffs which plunge into the sea. The top of the rock is covered in Jungle, a bankrupt (at the time) casino, and an airstrip without any instrument approach. As the air from the moist Indian Ocean flows over the top of the Island it tends to form a “cap cloud” covering the top of the Island, including the airstrip! Twice I have arrived there in an aircraft, and found this – with no other land in range and nowhere else to go. :eek: The solution was to fly a circuit at 200 feet above the sea, 200 feet or so below the airstrip and, once lined up with the tip of the strip, just visible through the cloud, pour on full power to climb up and drop onto the very beginning of the strip. :bored:

Then you get out of the aircraft, and kick the ass of the weather observer, who is waiting for his mail and newspapers. :suspect:

Because of the difficulty in obtaining engineering support in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it was our habit to carry an engineer on board, as well as a kit of spare parts in the hold. My only experience of this engineer actually doing anything (apart from buying duty free goods) was when he wandered back to check on the Auxiliary Power Unit, and placed his bare hand on a hot pipe, causing deep second degree burns to his hand. :uhoh:

On Cocos Island, the ground staff found trouble servicing the toilet system, and a helpful Captain disembarked to show them how the aircraft worked. Hearing some unusual language, I popped my head out to see that he had released the toilet valve, and covered his trousers in “blue sewage”! :yuk: As we carried a heavy crew, a unanimous vote placed this particular Captain in the rear cabin for the rest of the flight. This is a lesson on how little pilots know about some aspects of aircraft operation! :=

Training at Ansett involved four simulator sessions a year, one line check, one CRM day, a corporate training day and one “CAO 20.11” day (known in Europe as “SEP’s”) – a day of life raft and evacuation training. With six weeks holiday (fairly standard for pilots in Australia), this meant a training day every month or so. (After a few years, Ansett consolidated the four one-day simulator sessions into two, two-day sessions – now standard for the industry.)

CRM became a “hot” training topic as I joined the Airline, with one enthusiastic Captain paid to develop courses. As a consequence, including induction training and so on, I managed six CRM courses in two years. One Captain, irritated at the sheer number of courses, famously commented: “CRM only makes for soft Captains, and pushy FOs!” :p

One such course involved some guided “navel gazing” for “personal development”. Each person on the course was given a sheet with a list of personal attributes (some good, some bad) and were encouraged to anonymously nominate a person in the class who they thought best fit each listed attribute. When the lists were tallied up and read out, my most common comment was TENDS TO APPEAR A LITTLE ARROGANT. :hmm:

A bit indignant, I looked around the room and replied:
“It’s not arrogance … if you’re right!” :suspect: :E

During this time Tony Short, course mate with Jeremy and me at the RAAF Academy, was killed when his F1-11 crashed into a mountain on the island of Palau Aur during an exercise off the east coast of Malaysia. :sad:

9th Feb 2009, 11:44
Nightstops in Darwin could also be quite interesting. On the 737, with a first class service, we carried five flight attendants and two pilots, so with two aircraft in town for the night, there would be ten flight attendants and four pilots to make up a group for dinner and mischief.:ok: During the Darwin Cup one year (Darwin's main horse race) startled hotel staff found a jockey's saddle at the bottom of the pool in the morning, left over from illicit midnight games the night before. :}

One journey on the crew bus into the hotel, an exited Captain began quizzing our innocent crew about a rumour he had heard regarding a Flight Attendant and an “adult” video she had made in a previous life. :E His embarrassment was a sight to behold when I whispered to him that he was, unbeknownst, quizzing the actual girl in question. :O Another night in Darwin saw us enjoying dinner with that month’s Penthouse “Pet Of The Month”. :E She was a rather beautiful girl who had completed the men’s magazine’s (rather explicit) photo work under a pseudonym for a lark. She regretted the decision when ground staff began to run up to her with copies of the magazine as she was boarding passengers, asking for autographs. :ouch:

Of course, it wasn’t only the pilot group getting up to mischief in town. One night two FAs managed to pick up a tourist in one of the bars, and in a fit of camaraderie, decided to “share” him rather than fight over him. The second day of that particular trip involved a series of local flights, returning to the same hotel – and, rather than risk the chance of this man escaping, they hatched a plot.

Taking the man on the crew bus out to the airport, they pointed the way to the passenger lounge and told him to wait.

In those days it wasn’t necessary to have a boarding card to pass security, and the flight wasn’t boarded by ground staff but by one of the Flight Attendants from the flight itself. A little juggling of the crew assignments saw the man spirited onto the flight to take a seat in business class. He spent the day eating, drinking and enjoying the day for free until the aircraft returned to Darwin – where he was dragged back to the hotel room by the two girls. :eek:

The following morning at checkout saw two smug flight attendants :p, and one rather bemused, bedraggled and … er … drained tourist deposited on the street. :uhoh:

It was around this time that my sister moved to Western Australia to take up a position as a doctor with the Royal Flying Doctor Service based in Meekatharra in the middle of the desert, in the centre of the state. I drove up to see her one year during the WA wildflower season, and it really is a beautiful sight to behold, as wildflowers carpet the area from horizon to horizon.

Despite all of the CRM training, mistakes were still made. Taxiing out at Port Hedland I heard a muffled “bang” from below. Looking at the Captain, we wondered what it might have been, and after testing the aircraft, decided that it was probably a piece of poorly loaded baggage falling over in the hold beneath our feet. Once airborne on the way to Perth our flight attendant appeared with some tea, and casually mentioned, “Wasn’t that tyre blow-out a surprise!” :ugh:

Climbing out in the cruise on another occasion, a flight attendant appeared, shoved her finger under the Captain’s nose, announcing, “Sniff This!”. Jerking back his head, the Captain asked what it was, and she replied, “I don’t know – some chemical dripping from a locker!” :hmm: It took her a little while to understand, that poisoning the Captain in flight isn’t the best way to handle a dangerous goods incident. :{

When asked to search the lockers in front of the drip, as the aircraft was climbing, she eventually found the chemical dripping from a burst container in a passenger’s bag and it turned out to be film-developing fluid.

Of course, pilots could be at fault as well. On the way to Carins, near Mt. Isa, I was alone on the flight deck when a flight attendant entered and said: “I think you should know that the Captain is wearing a smoke hood, and using a fire extinguisher!” :eek: He had decided, while in the galley, to deal with a smoking oven himself. I explained to him that he was lucky not to find himself in the back of an aircraft conducting an emergency descent into Mt. Isa, given the amount of information he had managed to communicate to me.

9th Feb 2009, 13:10
When I started on the BAe146 with Ansett, it used “VLF/Omega” as its area navigation system. The Omega system used very low frequency transmissions to form a virtual “grid”. The navigation system couldn’t tell where it was on that grid, but could work out which direction you were flying in, and what speed. If you told it whare you started, then after a flight of three hours or so, it would “only” be three to four miles in error.

When GPS became accepted for airline use, the Omega system was finally switched off. In a lack of planning, Ansett hadn’t bought any GPS replacement systems for its fleet of aircraft, and subsequently found itself at the back of the queue – and the pilots were left with an aircraft to fly across the continent with only basic, airport based short range navigation aids (VORs and ADFs) for eight months.

Picking up an aircraft in Cairns during this time we were due to fly to Darwin, a three-hour flight or so, and found that this particular aircraft had a broken autopilot. This wasn’t a problem, however one pilot would have to concentrate on hand flying the aircraft for the entire light, instead of helping with navigation and communication duties. The flight was complicated by a cyclone sitting in the Gulf of Carpentaria (right on our track). As the 146 was forced to fly in the “middle altitudes” when in icing weather (around 25,000 feet), we would have to plough through the worst of the cyclone, with constant diversions to avoid the worst storm tops.

Hand flying the airliner, completely outside radio aid coverage, constantly changing heading every few minutes was quite a navigation challenge, requiring a series of “Air Plots” and chart corrections – I really felt like I was “back in the fifties in a DC3”, at the dawn of aviation, and understood why some of the more nervous pilots had bought personal GPS units for their flying at this time. (If you’re a pilot, reading this, and have no idea what an “Air Plot” is … well, perhaps you understand how much easier the job has become after the introduction of GPS!)

Ansett would also fly the mining crew transfers from Perth to Argyle diamond mine in the north west of Australia. Arriving at night, the easiest way to land was to fly a visual night circuit onto the runway, although the chart was annotated with several warnings about being accurate in timing the circuit, flying no more than 30 seconds on “downwind” beyond the threshold before turning “base”. In the turn, it was common to watch the radio altimeter reduce by 500 feet or so as it records the (invisible in the night) hills approaching the aircraft. :ooh:

After landing, the aircraft crew spend the night in the miner’s accommodation. Well appointed with an Olympic swimming pool, tennis courts and playing fields, the crew were welcome to have a few beers at the out-going shift’s barbeque. The flight attendants were especially welcome, if they felt able to walk through the dark night through all of the miner’s accommodation. :)

It is only in the morning, as you prepare the aircraft, where you can see that the rocky hills surround the airstrip, and the entire circuit takes place inside and below these hills! :eek:

Airline staff live for discounts, :hmm: and are always attempting to organise these in the local businesses near hotels. Using an airline ID, and vague promises of bringing large numbers of Flight Attendants can get even the ugliest pilot skipping the queue for a free entry into a night club or restaurant. ;) One keen pilot produced a small booklet with helpful information for overnight stays. This not only included a list of discounts at local restaurants and such, but also useful information on how to obtain free movies on the hotel TV systems or how to find the “crew library”.

The directions for one TV system would require you to take apart the remote control and spin the rubber “button contact mat” 180 degrees, to access the engineering menu (to turn on free movies), one would use a set of pilots wings to temporarily disable the set-top box, or recommend carrying a short length of coaxial cable to jump the signal past the set-top box and so on. :8 As crew were generally given the same rooms, the “crew library” was a hidden place within the room, where previous crew had stored “gentleman’s reading material”. :O

The tropical, far-north, Queensland holiday town of Cairns was also a popular place to spend the night. With a large number of “backpacker” tourists in town, it was always interesting to head out for a “foam party” at The End of The World, or night out at the Woolshed (locally known as “The Sheepdip”). I won’t even mention what went on at The Playpen :oh: ! It was always possible, if everyone was well refreshed, that you could end the night jumping the fence of the hotel pool (closed for the night) for a bit of skinny-dipping with the crew. :E

Room parties were also popular, however you had to remain alert if you didn’t want to find your hat filled with chocolate powder from the mini bar when dressing the following day! :)

9th Feb 2009, 13:59
All good things must come to an end, they say. (Although I would be happier if “they” weren’t so smug about it sometimes!) Parts of Ansett had been in existence for 75 years, making it one of the world’s oldest airlines. In the 80’s Ansett was required by law (known as “the two-airline agreement”) to charge the same prices on each route as Australian Airlines, the government owned “competitor”. Forbidden to compete on price, Ansett competed on providing the best service, and introduced luxurious first class, gold plated ash trays (no, really) and the like. This process left the airline very fat when deregulation came.

After deregulation, Ansett (and Australian Airlines) fought the new low-cost operators with deep, commercially unsupportable discounts, which left the airline with liquidity problems. Generally this was solved by selling off the profitable parts of the airline such as the hotel chains, tropical holiday islands and credit card company shares. At the end of the 90’s Ansett was desperate for investment, and turned to Singapore airlines as its saviour.

The deal with Singapore was scuppered by Air New Zealand, part owner at the time, and the Australian and New Zealand governments (although it’s a long story), and Ansett was bankrupt. The events of September 11 were the last nail, Ansett became the biggest corporate collapse in Australia’s history and I (and 13,500 others) was out of a job. :{

With such a long history, many of the staff had married within the company (a process known as "Ancest" :) ). This meant that the collapse affected entire families, and times were hard. It is bad enough when you lose your job, you have the support of family and friends, but when your family has also lost their job, and you go to a barbeque where all of your friends have also lost their job ... :sad: There were a few suicides in the aftermath (although no-one I knew) :sad:

An ex-girlfriend from Cairns had moved to the UK, and with her encouragement I eventually moved to the UK to find work. Although I had 7,500 hours, I still had to complete all 14 JAR exams, and pay for a 737 simulator, TRE and CAA inspector in order to complete a self-sponsored check ride to gain my JAR license. It took 12 months, but I eventually obtained work with my new airline in the UK.

Well, that’s it. It’s not quite “Fate is the Hunter”, but 20 years, a handful of stories :}, 12,000 hours, three jet types :ok:, three “near death” moments :eek: , two countries and half a dozen dead friends. :sad:

Quite a bit has been left out, of course, and for various reasons. Engine failures in the Westwind and Baron, flap and autopilot problems, radio failures, the true genesis of “Autopilot Kerplunk” and any UK stories (as I still want to go to work tomorrow) all didn’t make the grade.

Non-flying stories didn’t make the cut either: such as growing up next door to one of Victoria’s biggest crooks (meeting famous hit-men and the like), being caught by the RAAF service police dancing on the wing of an F-86 Sabre (but pointing out the base Commanding Officer was dancing on the Canberra’s wing next to me) or events like the time I ended up on stage as a judge in “Miss Nude Australia” – these all require you to catch me in a bar ;)

Some cadets I fly with now tell me how lucky they were to get a job on a 737 at 300 hours.

I really have to disagree.

9th Feb 2009, 14:36
Thanks for those most entertaining stories!

I'm not much given to careful reading of some others longer posts but even went back and re-read some of yours.

9th Feb 2009, 15:10

Thank god or whoever, that you've finished your tales of daring-do.

Not that I didn't enjoy reading them, It's just that: some of us have work to do, and we need to get on with our humdrum lives :{

When's the book being published? :ok:


9th Feb 2009, 17:50
Superb Checkers..........

You REALLY do need to find a good publisher mate :ok:

Strange Frontier
9th Feb 2009, 18:36
Sir, thank you very much for a series of highly entertaining stories. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. A shame it had to come to an end, but as you say yourself, all good things eventually do.

10th Feb 2009, 04:02
Being quite involved with some of the earlier posts I must say well done mate and you missed your true calling.:D

10th Feb 2009, 04:41
I must say well done mate and you missed your true calling.

He's tried bartending. :hmm:

10th Feb 2009, 06:03
What are you saying - flying obviously isn't my thing? :p

10th Feb 2009, 07:55
Think your mere survival would say otherwise. :D

Fantastic entertainment, certainly got me ( & many others I am sure ) wistful for "how it used to be".

Try to keep that identity secret till retirement though, and after that publish the book , including the UK chapter :ok:

BTW, I agree wholeheartedly about your comments re 300hr Cadets.
It's not just the flying "experience" they are missing out on, it's the whole eye widening/ mind expanding
"life experience" stuff that passes them by, and they don't have enough of any experience to realise it. :hmm:

10th Feb 2009, 10:49
How it used to be ? http://www.augk18.dsl.pipex.com/Smileys/laughpound.gif

Good grief :uhoh:

10th Feb 2009, 13:00
And here he is, all plum tuckered out after an early airport standby.
Note the remote.

He woke up and asked me to delete it. :{

10th Feb 2009, 13:29
About this Miss Nude Australia bit Checkboard.
Couldn't the poor girls afford a swim cossey???
More details please. :confused:

10th Feb 2009, 15:03
these all require you to catch me in a bar. ;)


... or perhaps you'll have to buy the book (should i ever write one)

10th Feb 2009, 17:27
I reckon most pilots benefit from propping up the local aeroclub (bar) for a few years.....
The wealth of knowledge I gained..................................

about nothing in particular...:}

10th Feb 2009, 18:44
"Hangar Flying" type of talk in bar and threads such as Checkboard has started have saved lives. I know of more than a few occasions where a pilot has recalled a conversation in a bar that actually saved an aircraft from an accident. I will relate one that happened to a couple of close friends of mine.

We were crewing a Convair 300, which was a corporate/VIP version of a modified Convair 240. This aircraft had a water injection system (ADI) for the engines that was used for increased power on takeoff. One afternoon we were taking off, Tony, the captain, called for me to turn on the ADI, the second I did so both engines all but came apart, very loud backfires, flames coming out of the carburetor air intakes and the aircraft was shaking very badly. Of course we immediately aborted takeoff and taxied back to the ramp. It was discovered that the maintenance personal had filled the ADI tank with pure alcohol rather than the water/alcohol mix, not good.

The ADI system was drained and refilled with the proper mixture, however, because of the delay the flight was rescheduled to the next morning. Because I had a trip in another aircraft the next day one of my friends replaced me.

They took off very early the next morning before the tower was open and before sunrise. It was our procedure that who ever was sitting in the right seat would get up shortly after takeoff and visually check the engine cowling's for any oil leaks, in case an oil cap had been left off the oil tanks. Rick, the guy who had taken my place, was in the right seat that morning and after takeoff he went back to check the engines.

A few minutes later, after grabbing a couple cups of coffee from the galley, he came back to the cockpit and got back in his seat. After a couple of minutes he asked Tony, the captain, when did the right wing leading edge get the 'dents'. Tony's reply was to the order of, "What dents?" Rick replied that there were dents all down the leading edge of the wing from the engine outboard and he could not remember seeing them during the pre-flight inspection.

At that point Tony went back into the cabin to see the 'dents' himself, also about that time the sun was coming up and he could see the wing clearly. When Tony returned to the cockpit he told Rick to declare an emergency, to tell ATC that they had severe internal right wing damage and that they needed vectors to the Air Force Base because he needed the closest and longest runway available to their position and all the emergency equiptment available.

Rick told me later that when Tony told him about the damage, all he could think was, 'How the hell did some line guy do that much damage with a frigging ladder?' However, Rick did as he was told and they started a very slow descent at a reduced airspeed. When Tony briefed the approach and landing he told Rick that it would be a flaps up approach and landing, also they would not put the gear down until they were over the runway. He wanted hold the gear up until over the runway because if the wing failed as the gear was extending he hope he could just put the Convair down on the runway and possibly live through the cash. At that point Rick wanted a beer very badly.

Needlessly to say they did land, gear down, flaps up successfully. When they got out of the aircraft and looked at the damage to the right wing Rick told me that his knees got weak and Tony told me he got sick to his stomach.

Right behind the right main gear there was a hole burned through the skin that you could fit an large office chair in, the foward main spar was burned in two and the secondary spar was nearly burned in half. Only the skin was holding the wing onto to airframe. In fact the damage was so severe that the Air Force did not tow the aircraft off the runway until their maintenance people braced the right main gear.

What had almost caused a fatal accident was what had happened the day before to Tony and me. When the raw alcohol was injected into the engines the augmenter exhaust tubes on the right engine collapsed internally, this could not be detected on a normal pre-flight. The next morning when they took off, the exhaust, being blocked by the collapsed tubes exited the engine via the wing de-ice system, this aircraft used engine exhaust for wing de-icing. Because it was un-metered, uncooled exhaust, the heat of the exhaust caused all the damage.

Now, how does a story told during a 'Hangar Flying' session relate to the above incident you ask? Right after Tony's boss bought the Convair he was sitting in an hotel bar talking to an American Airlines crew, the captain told him a story about an American Convair 440 have the same damage, from the same cause, however, when the crew put the flaps down for landing the wing separated from the aircraft and everybody on board was killed.

Tony remembered that story that early morning.

Sadly both Tony and Rick are no longer with us, Tony was killed in a DC-4 he was flying in Alaska and Rick died from cancer.

10th Feb 2009, 22:24
Checkboard. Thanks for all the stories, they were awesome


10th Feb 2009, 23:07
I recognised a fuel leak by the green stain after seeing a story with pictures here on PPRuNe literally the night before. This was something that had gone unnoticed for several days by Maintenance, other instructors and other students. :ok:

12th Feb 2009, 09:42
As the old saying goes "learn from others mistakes ,as you will never live long enough to make them all yourself".

In among all the flying club bar stories there lurks many gems of wisdom.

Sometimes it is best to listen a little to the old farts :D

20th Feb 2009, 11:48
Not a flying story, but a fueling story.....
Many moons ago I was fueling a popular U.S.Airline (The one wot landed in the Hudson.... ) Afternoon storms, inbound and outbound delayed from KRIC...... Got a fuel release for flt XXXX to PHL., flt arrived several hours late.. I fueled said flt.scheduled (originally) to PHL. Unknown to me, a 2nd release was issued to Dallas.
Cap'n came down after refueling.. "Need more fuel to make Dallas!!!" With a heavy Texas drawl. I thought he was saying "Dulles"
"Yer got enough fuel to make Dulles, I said."(35,000 lbs of fuel for a 25 minute flt) (734)
No, no, no, he said, Dallas!!! Dallas!!!! Sounded like Dulles to me. :} Went back and forth for a few minutes, took a phone call to CLP to get things sorted. Finally realized he was overshooting PHL and going direct to Dallas, not Dulles.

3rd Mar 2009, 10:07
Awesome stories.

What year was it that Ansett were relying on VOR/NDB's without the GPS's?

And how old were you CB when you got hired by Ansett? And did you need an instructors rating back then, when was then?

:)Thanks dude.:ok:

3rd Mar 2009, 23:34
Whats a GPS?

When I did my line check (AN) the rotten old bastard gave me a VOR/DME into OOL out of BNE, A 07 VOR into SYD a visual into ASP and an NDB into CNS. The old prick even got me to calculate a PNR fer christ sake
All hand flown
This in a 733 :(

3rd Mar 2009, 23:52
Aw, you young punk tins, back in my day, when the Dead Sea was just sick, we calls them thar NDBs, ADF approaches. :p

3rd Mar 2009, 23:59
Really con? Didya have the "aural null, dit-dah " let downs as well?
I knew a few hosties would give ya the old "Oral Null" approach

4th Mar 2009, 00:05
I knew a few hosties would give ya the old "Oral Null" approach

A gentleman never tells. :=

Course I ain't no gentleman, let me tell you about the time...........

"Oh, hi dear, not much, just on Pprune." :\

10th Nov 2009, 23:12
CB well done on the reminiscing! I was absolutely mesmerised by this story. Would love to see what the final publish of the book is like, I'd buy a copy for sure! :ok: :D

11th Nov 2009, 03:13
Aw, you young punk tins, back in my day, when the Dead Sea was just sick, we calls them thar NDBs, ADF approaches.

Try one of those on for size. :p:p

10th Feb 2010, 12:06
Checkers: like yer work :ok:

10th Feb 2010, 13:26
CPS.....there are many a reason we got to be "old farts"....luck being the most important!

Luck trumps skill every time!

No skill.....no luck usually!

Ah yes....the Good Ol' Days!

Bell 204...no SAS...no AP....no FDI, HSI....just a mag compass, DG with two bearing pointers....one FM, VHF Com, VHF nav, Transponder (maybe), and one lovely hand tuned, turn crank ADF receiver with manual Loop.

We even had a LF Airway....yeppers....Dots and Dashes and all that.

Try doing an NDB approach with a fixed card DG and using a hand cranked Loop on partial panel.....no ADI allowed.

Yes the good ol' days....Not! But....I learned how to kept the greasy side up.

10th Feb 2010, 14:09
“SH!T !! Pull UP!”
Sure beats the standard "WHOOP! WHOOP! PULL-UP" call. I shall call our Honeywell Rep tomorrow. ;)

Dead Sea was just sick, we calls them thar NDBs, ADF approachesCome off it young whipper-snapper. When the Dead Sea was still on sick parade and Mortis was on his fitter's course, they were called RDF Approaches and Pilots had Wireless Operators to hand crank the loop aerial.

10th Feb 2010, 14:36
ADF? All Don's follies, KSFO. (Don Sherwood). East of the Bay, we flew UPR. (Union Pacific Railroad). IFR? I fly Railroad. Locomotive smoke was a mobile navaid, just sayin'. Mt. Diablo the Italian Omni.

10th Feb 2010, 16:24
I read these stories last year when they were first posted and I enjoyed them so much I have just re-read the whole lot. Thanks checkers :ok:

Put me down for a copy of the book

10th Feb 2010, 20:14

Absolutley true story. I once flew with an old gent in a battered 402 at night into Tullamarine. Radar vectored for an ILS approach we broke visual on final and landed
Whats so unusual about that you say?
There wasnt ONE navaid working in the aircraft.:eek:
When asked, he said it was a piece of cake after flying night-fighters during WW2 :ooh:

10th Feb 2010, 21:00
Jack Ellis?

10th Feb 2010, 22:15
http://www.augk18.dsl.pipex.com/Smileys/nope.gif Nope
BB from ADL

Lon More
10th Feb 2010, 22:22
looking forward to being able to buy the uncensored version

11th Feb 2010, 02:28

Sounds like a '....let down on a porcelain range' to me!!

Brian Abraham
11th Feb 2010, 04:09
Did any Oz types ever have to do the old (discontinued) DME approach in anger? Much faffing about procedure.

Howard Hughes
11th Feb 2010, 05:28
No, but I can still remember how to do them!:eek:

11th Feb 2010, 06:10
DME arrival was de rigueur in the Fokking Wokker

11th Feb 2010, 09:17
Not the arrival, tinny, the approach. :ok: DME homing until you fly over-head the aid, then a heading based procedure to let down. I had to pass it to get "DME" put on the licence, so I did a few, but none in anger.

11th Feb 2010, 19:44
Yeah I know that, was digressifying.

14th Feb 2010, 20:06
Last time i did a DME homing for renewal was in a Gomad in '82

14th Feb 2010, 21:26
Can still remember VAR approaches. No, its not a spelling error. Never flew one though.:ok:

Pinky the pilot
15th Feb 2010, 05:01
Had to do a DME homing on a couple of occasions in PNG. Glad I was taught it!:ok:

17th Oct 2010, 14:06
ahhhh GA flying, the most fun you can have with your pants on! and even that's optional at times! ;) awesome stories checkers and well told. would love to have a yarn over a few cans someday :ok:

18th Oct 2010, 03:02
Checkers, you inferred you were in the RAAF? Did you fly with them? What years? What types?

galaxy flyer
18th Oct 2010, 03:12
I give up, what is DME HOMING?


Loose rivets
18th Oct 2010, 03:42
and why does it take months to realize we don't know?:confused:

Ascend Charlie
18th Oct 2010, 07:24
A DME Arrival is when you hear

"KERRRUNCH!!" Dear me! I have arrived!"

18th Oct 2010, 16:55
Someone been reading about my shady past? :uhoh:

DME Homing: In Australia in order to get an Instrument Rating, you had to have each approach aid placed on the licence individually (as a different "module" as it were.) NDB was the minimum requirement for the Rating, the rest of the aids were optional. ILS, LLZ, VOR are all fairly obvious (to pilots at least :O ) - and you could use DME information combined with these aids without specific extra training ... but

... to put "DME" on your licence as a stand alone approach aid, you had to demonstrate a complete approach using only that aid. i.e. Only DME information to track to the station, and only DME information to follow the outbound and inbound published approach. DME homing is a system of short turns to test whether the DME is increasing or decreasing (or remaining steady) in order to use that information to home in on the station. You also had to organise your track (or use a turning system overhead the aid) so that once you were overhead (defined as being within 2 DME) you were in a position to fly the published heading outbound from the aid.

It was useful to have, not because you ever might do one in anger, but if an airport had, say, NDB & DME (which is typical) you needed both aids on your licence in order to meet the "two independent approach aids" requirement to avoid having to carry extra fuel (less payload) for an alternate.

Loose rivets
18th Oct 2010, 17:01
That sounds like fun. Takes me back to VDF approach in the DC3. Some information, and some deduction.

18th Oct 2010, 17:11
Checkers, you inferred you were in the RAAF? Did you fly with them? What years? What types?

I was one of the Sir Richard Williams Scholarship winners in 1984 (for Victoria) - which eventually helped me to enter the last intake (38 course) for the RAAF Academy. For various reasons, which require you to buy me much beer :O, I didn't complete the Academy course.

I flew in many RAAF aircraft while I was there, including a supersonic back seat ride in a Mirage. :)

18th Oct 2010, 20:44
ncluding a supersonic back seat ride in a Mirage.

One would like to see Checkers stuffed in a Miracle now :hmm: http://www.smilies.our-local.co.uk/index_files/pasta.gif<---emergency rations

18th Oct 2010, 21:27
What are you saying?? :hmm:


20th Oct 2010, 08:25
All good information and it brought back quite some memories.

Not only that but it worked.


20th Oct 2010, 08:33
One would like to see Checkers stuffed in a Miracle now

How rude! Especially as he was stuffed in a Pitts recently.

surely not
20th Oct 2010, 16:30
Not sure how I managed to miss this thread first time around, but very glad I saw it this time :ok:

Really good style of writing, and some excellent stories. Like many on here I would buy 'the book' if you ever write it.

High 6
30th Nov 2010, 02:53
Excellent posts Checkerboard, many of us have similar stories but the art is in the the telling, and you do it very well. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

When you do publish your stories, I recommend that they be incorporated as mandatory reading for any 300 hr cadets fast tracking to airline jets.