The Tocumwal airshow on Sunday 10th of April was another event that on the hectic airshow calendar that Paul bennet Airshows are madly conducting all over place. These guys really get around when the season is in full-swing. I have to ask the reader before I continue, are you making use of your Pilot’s licence? Do you challenge yourself at all? Are you working on your PIC skills? Well, club fly-aways are where you get some of your best learning via osmosis, so please read-on.
Early sunday morning, Paul, Mahmood and I met at YBSS to pre-flight TBL and brief the morning run to YTOC. This is collaborative planning that ensures we all get a fair part in the days flight and understand what each pilot will do on their navigation leg. Routes are discussed, PIC responsibilities noted and other tasks accepted by the person sitting in the left seat. Yes there is always tasks for the “crew”.
There was a bit of morning cloud hanging around Mt Macedon as usual, so there was the first factor, (no surprises there). After getting airborne into that beautiful smooth morning air, it became apparent that getting through the gap overhead Woodend/Mt Macedon was not going to happen due to cloud. Ok, well that is why we bring extra fuel and plan with extra time. Moving out to the west, it was time to climb into a blue hole and have a look around at the cloud cover. Low and behold, it had a cloud top altitude that would work with our airspace requirements, so VFR on-the-top was on the menu!
Now, if you have not yet done that, you are missing the beauty of the wonderful world of the cumulus carpet from a top down perspective. Yes, I believe we have all seen this before travelling on a commercial airline, but as you have guessed it is a whole lot different sitting up front in a 172.
Heading out to YSHT, the “carpet” opened up to reveal scattered clouds good enough to come down through a conveniently placed clear area and onwards then to a landing and a (very) quick change of pilots on the ground. Away again and now approaching YTOC.
For the un-initiated, the 10-mile radius coming into an airshow when the aerodrome is about to close in 20 minutes, is the kind of stuff where you really need to listen out and keep your situational awareness up. Task saturation can be a factor and the cockpit must be disciplined with no extra crap-talk. Other inbound pilots/planes seem to all appear all at once and the unicom really gets going with all sorts of requests, separation and position reports. Sounds like a normal day at a GAAP aerodrome? Well let us just say that it is a bit different and leave it at that.
Landing at YTOC, we were greeted by an already large crowd spectating every landing and taxi of all arriving aircraft. We taxied to the separate parking area over near Spots-Avia and caught the shuttle bus to the main viewing area. Wow, what a lot of vendors and stalls serving all manners of products and wares(Mahmood bought a huge grilled meat meal that I thought he would not be able to finish but he somehow put it all away). This is great for the local economy and puts money back into the pockets of small business. But there could be even more stalls there, as waiting in line for a coffee was about 30 minutes but lucky there was an airshow on to watch, so no problem!
Walking around revealed a few aircraft I had not seen, or seen in a while. There was a Hudson Bomber from Temora museum, which I must mention, is the only flying example in the world today so that is pretty special. Interesting fact about the Hudson – When Australia was faced with the need to deploy a front line aircraft in the air war over the pacific 1942 and early 43, the Hudson was the only thing available as there were no ‘fighters’. So it was pressed into the front line with the threat of encountering enemy fighters, whilst not escorted (not a good economy there one would think!).
Other types in show were a Mustang, Spitfire, Avenger, Kittyhawk, Wirraway, Harvard, Yak52, Wolf-pitts, Edge 540, RAAF Trainers and a L39 jet (some lucky person won a ride in that). So, the flying schedule continued on through the day and much to look at was always available as the displays and aerobatics were good conversation topics. Don’t forget the sunscreen and water though!
Homeward bound was interesting as the scramble to get away in time was noticeable amongst the GA crowd. Many planes lined up and the comms were absolutely cranking with all sorts of positions and intentions. Mahmood was able to squeeze into the mix and conducted a crosswind departure on runway 09.
A tip from a friendly ground observer (club member) back at YBSS made us aware of a CFA burn-offs in vicinity of the aerodrome so we were a little nervous about getting back in at around 5.30pm. Plan B was considered and then decided on, as fuel/daylight remaining are always the ruling elements. From there the homeward run was very uneventful with relaxed cruising and generally low workload in the cockpit. Thankfully, the persistent northerly wind blew that pesky smoke away.
I think that is how we want it to be at the end of the day. ‘Piece of cake’ as they say…..
Until next fly-way, thanks for reading!