About three weeks ago I noticed a post on a facebook site that I keep an eye on, “Fly-in 27th June BBQ lunch, STOL Flyers”. I quickly made a long range and sketchy assessment of the weather and booked the 150 immediately. I had been wanting to go and see this fellow’s airpark located in vicinity of Lake Eppalock, to the south east of Bendigo, as I had been missing chances here and there due to being myself unavailable, weather, aircraft booked out, etc. I thought, “Lets get a few people up there” and posted to the club Facebook and made a call or two to gain some interest in coming along. Darren Dries replied very quickly with a yes and booked the other 150 straitaway. Good I thought, now we have a “flight”. As the fortnight went buy a few more people chimed in and announced they’d be joining us and we would meet up there together. Now we had four planes heading over as a loose group or gathering as you may call it. That would be – the two club 150’s, Francis Eninnis’s 150, and Peter Forni with family, in a loaner Piper Warior.
Now the approach to ‘Unusual Attitudes Airpark’ is a leisurely stroll over the hump at Mt Macedon, with a very much simple navigation you can do by just about only glancing at google maps the night before it’s so simple, fly over to Melton, point toward Mt Macedon, then just hold North until you see Lake Eppalock. All told, 45 minutes-ish, doing about 85 knots. When you spot the airpark which is well camouflaged amongst the greenery and rolling terrain, I found I had to get into the circuit right quick as the inbound traffic was approaching from different directions and at different performance levels (the ground Unicom was also pumping), not to mention Darren was holding a one mile formation behind me, as our ‘flight of two”.
Now it was time to sort out the aircraft and the pilot for a landing on a strip that quickly became apparent to have a decline at both ends, effectively making for a down hill landing from any direction you want to look at it from. Ok, no worries, full flap, 60 knots stable approach, chop that power and drop into that last moment of ground effect. Well, I floated a bit and that decline just ran along nice as you like underneath me, damm. Safe to say I was down at the halfway mark and then beginning the uphill run, no sweat and taxying into the parking area I muttered “That must of looked o.k I suppose”. I think Darren did a better job. As we were stretching our legs we watched some other very slippery aircraft landing that were really eating up the runway with possibly some very warm brake calipers here and there, enough said. I guess we all like the challenge of varied strip lengths and layouts, it’s what make flying fun.
Off to the BBQ area now and geez, what a setup. Walking about the hanger/demountables/undercover BBQ area, it reminded me of a caravan park camp kitchen crossed with a bush airstrip. It really makes you think “Wow I wish I had something like this” A brief word to the Airpark Owner dispels the romantic ideal quickly, with the realities of work and upkeep. Darren and I now met-up with Francis, then Peter and family. We find a table and settled in for a few snags and bread. The Airpark Owner was cooking the BBQ and you could choose to BYO or get some at the airpark for a contribution. After lunch and a chat, it was time to walk the line of the interesting array of approximately 30 planes arranged about the airpark. VAN’s, Jabiru’s, Cessna’s, Piper’s, Homebuild’s/Experimental’s etc. I really like checking out the STOL bushplanes and chatting to the owners. That part was over too quick for me as the afternoon came to an end.
Getting back to Point Cook in time for the end of the day now approached, so watching the takeoffs was a good idea before one was to attempt the same. Seeming simple enough, we observed the greater number of pilots executing a standard takeoff with the trees at the end, in mind. Francis made it look easy in his very nice 150, so I then elected myself to conduct a normal takeoff roll and found I had no issues getting off just past the halfway mark, which is about four hundred meters or so. Piece of cake.
Darren dropped in about a mile behind me in the other 150 and we cruised back. Peter and family in the Warrior took off about 5-10 minutes after, and still managed to overtake us just coming out of Melton. But hey, the 150 is no rocket ship and an airpark visit less than an hour away, it’s just right.