Saturday, May 28, 2011

Merimbula and lobster

My wife and I had planned a trip to Merimbula for some while. I had visited Merimbula aerodrome once before and I was very impressed with what a friendly little set up it was. Rex have regular services there and the terminal building has a nice cafe for visitors.

I had originally booked Archer SFR, but maintenance had necessitated a change to Archer MJT, which is a similar start to my Taree trip story. MJT has no usable GPS receiver, so it was Mark One Eyeball and map to ground, ground to map and ADF navigation. Blue stuff on the left, green stuff on the right, then vice-versa for the return trip. Who said this navigation stuff was difficult?

We fuelled up and prepped MJT, a high pressure system on it's way out giving us warm weather and cloudless skies. We managed to negotitate our way out of Bankstown and headed south, again step climbing underneath Sydney's class C airspace, past Camden, Wedderburn, Wilton and Wollongong up to 6500 feet. Checking that Nowra's airspace was deactivated this Saturday, we broadcast on 118.85 at Kiama, Tomerong, Wandandian and Ulladulla before swtiching back to area frequency. During the week, when Nowra airspace is active, it is necessary to gain clearance from Nowra Control before transitting this VFR lane. Lots of transmissions from Jaspers Brush ALA, ultralights practicing circuits.

South of Ulladulla we flew above a smoke plume from burn offs in the bush. This gave me a perfect idea of what the wind was doing, and told me we were reaching the southern edge of the high pressure system. Further south and parachute ops conducted at Moruya, arranging separation between ourselves, me staying feet wet and the jump pilot feet dry.

I had arranged for the refueller to meet the our arrival in Merimbula before 1400, and I calculated I would make it with 10 minutes to spare. We began our descent and I tried to keep the speed up as much as possible, the conditions being glassy smooth and made a beautiful straight in approach and landing, and I have video evidence to prove if if you don't believe me.

The refueller was there waiting for us, helped us refuel and offered to give us a lift down the road to our accommodation. I tied the aircraft down and we found our comfortable digs. We rested until our booking for dinner at 1830 at Wheelers Restaurant. After a false start in the wrong direction, on the wrong side of the road (hey, what do you know, there's a footpath on this side) we found Wheelers opposite the golf course. Lobsters,oysters and champagne were on the menu to celebrate passing my CPL. I don't remember feeling the cold walking back to the hotel.

Up bright and early the next morning for a leisurely 1100 departure. We caught a cab to the airport, where Colin the Helpful Refueller agreed to meet us to let us in to the airport. Merimbula is the home of the ASIC program and security there is unnecessarily tight. We'd topped off the fuel tanks the day before and we only had to pack up, start up and go. The high pressure system had helpfully moved off to the east so they we could have another headwind on our way back to Bankstown.

We departed north and began our long climb to 5500 feet, negotiating with joy flights off the coast then parachute drops over Moruya once again. Long cruise back, past Ulladulla, Nowra, Wollongong to the edges of the Sydney Basin. An inversion layer was trapping a thick layer of smoke from burn offs around the Sydney area. There were some solid bumps descending through that transition, which certainly got Kirrily's attention. Normal entry and a longish landing for a very welcome return to Bankstown after a tiring trip.


At 5:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of these names (except Sydney) sounded familiar so I got a good geography lesson.

Lobster is a good mission profile and justifies the trip in itself. Although it IS all about the journey.

At 5:30 pm, Blogger Brendan said...

Sounds like a great flight Chris! How long did you find it took you to get to Merimbula? Flew down to Moruya myself for the first time last week, really is a fantastic view coastal past Nowra, Bateman's Bay, Kioloa etc, and possibly the least amount of 'navigation' of any nav out of Sydney I reckon.

At 3:36 pm, Blogger Chris said...

@Wilko - glad I could help edify :) The lobster was well worth it.

@Brendan - It's a great trip and the workload as you said is not as high as near Williamtown. It took 2.2 each way from Bankstown. Say 2 even from Camden.


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