Maple One Six
Night flying with Jeff, trying to get my NVFR rating sorted prior to the end of winter. Out to Bankstown, planned and preflighted SFA as dusk fell. Head out to the aeroplane, news helicopters hovering overhead, obviously an accident on the M5 slowing everyone down. A stray dog rans past in the darkness, too far and fast for me to track down and disappears between two hangars. Jeff alerts the aerodrome safety officer. We taxi out, picking a gap between evening bank runners. We take off to the east and make right turns, departing the field overhead at 1500 feet. Below us is a river of red tail lights, drivers stuck in the jam, anxious to get moving.
We head north, over Parramatta, following Woodville Rd, Hornsby before the lights of the city disappear behind us and below is just the inky darkness of Broken Bay. There is almost no moon and the only illumination comes from below. The area frequency is alive, a cargo plane has hit a bird, a plover, on take off and and left only small pieces behind. The crew elect to continue to their destination as everything seems normal. They are closer to their destination than their origin anyway. ATC clears a path for them. The crew sound bored by the whole ordeal, though I suspect it's a facade.
We find Swansea and then Cessnock, the circuit full of Cessna 152s. We find a gap in the circuit and line up on final.
"Don't look at the beam," warns Jeff. I look at the beam and make a not so pretty landing. We exit the circuit and head back to Bankstown, leaving the busy Cessnock circuit behind.
Jeff puts me to the test on our way back, tracking the GPS, VOR and NDB, unusual attitudes and random technical questions. He's satisfied with how I do.
We get closer to Sydney and I hear Maple One Six ask for approval to conduct an ILS approach into Kingsford Smith International.
"That's a Hornet," I tell Jeff, who spends the next ten minutes craning his neck, watching the F-18 pass over our shoulders into Sydney. More concerning to me is the 737 which has been sent on an extended downwind leg, right towards us on a reciprocal track. I watch it closely as it passes 500 feet overhead.
Back into Bankstown and I make a circuit too close and put down for another slightly dodgy landing.
I need to work on my landings but apart from that Jeff gives me the OK to go for my NVFR test.