Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday morning flight to Camden

I realised a few days ago that I had to become current again if I wanted to fly with passengers to Wollongong next week-end for the Wings over Illawarra airshow. Three take-offs and landings within the last 90 days are required for carrying passengers, and I only had one in my logbook.

The weatherman promised all Sydneysiders that Saturday would end a long string of IFR-only week-ends, so I booked Warrior VH-SFM for a few hours in the early morning. Time to shake the rust off with a flight to Camden, only 17 nautical miles south-west of Bankstown. The weather didn't disappoint.

Of course the world and his wife had also come to the conclusion that this was a perfect day to resume VFR flying in the Sydney area. All five spots in the run-up area for 29R at Bankstown were taken, so I did my pre take-off checks and engine run-up on the taxiway. I then joined the line for the holding point, making sure to apply the park brake so that my Piper would not creep forward and chew on the tail of the Cessna in front of me.

It may have been smarter to go straight for runway 29C rather than wait for everyone else on runway left. Something to keep in mind for next time. This is a very similar dilemma to that of choosing a check-out lane at the supermarket. The other lane always go faster.

I eventually took off on 29R and flew around the training area, identifying landmarks such as the pipeline south of the Penrith R536 restricted area and Warragamba Dam. With all the rain we received in the last weeks the area was very green. I called inbound at Mayfield and advertised myself as unfamiliar with Camden. The controller gave me an upwind join for 06 rather than a base join and I made a decent (for a solo flight) full-stop landing despite flaring too high. This was my first time landing at Camden in daylight, all the previous times had been at night.

Camden is a great GA airport with more interesting aircraft types than are usually seen around Bankstown. I mentioned this airport already as a possible place for me to do a tailwheel endorsement later this year. Grass trips have magical powers when it comes to attracting vintage aircraft such as this Tiger Moth above or Curtis Aviation's T-6G Texan below.

After a little look around I departed Camden on downwind for 06 at the circuit altitude of 1300ft. On late downwind the controller gave me a traffic, a Cessna in my 2 o'clock, on descent and about to join base. By the time I found him he was right in front of me and quickly disappeared in the bottom left corner of my windscreen.

I would not call it too close for comfort, but I would have appreciated if the controller had kept him at 1800ft for an upwind join rather than descend him in front of me, even if that meant an extra circuit for the Cessna. That being said, separation is the responsibility of the pilot in a GAAP control zone, and I probably could have anticipated the traffic by listening more carefully for the inbound aircraft who most likely was inbound from Mayfield. Lesson learnt.

I followed the ranges to Warragamba Dam then kept the pipeline on my left all the way to Prospect Reservoir. An aircraft was performing aerobatics near an unnamed airfield south of Penrith so I gave it a wide berth. A Cessna and an Extra reported inbound at Prospect before me and we all joined downwind for 29R. I flared too high on that one too and all the credit for the decent landing goes to the oleo suspension of the Warrior.

After crossing the holding point I stopped for a few seconds to perform my after landing actions and checks (landing lights and strobes off, transponder on standby, flaps up, fuel pump off, switch frequency to ground) and started taxiing back to the clubhouse. That's when the ground controller called me asking me to next time please avoid stopping right after vacating the runway since I prevented the aircraft behind me from vacating. Point taken, I won't do it again.


Rob said...

Great post, brings back memories! I do miss the old pipeline ;)

steve said...

curtis is where i'm learning to fly, i'd definitely recommend them for getting ur tail wheel endorsement. i started learning on the citabria (tail wheel) which is an awesome fun plane to fly!

nice blog, i just read thru most of ur posts... some of the info was really helpful! i'll definitely be going over your 10 tips for sitting PPL exam again soon, cos mine's coming up!

Julien said...

Thanks Steve and Rob for the comments.

Steve, I can condense the 10 points about the PPL exam into two simple pieces of advice: know the VFR flight guide cover to cover, and do plenty of practice exams. The ones in Bob Tait's book helped me a lot. Good luck with the PPL test!

steve said...

definitely sounds about right! thanks mate...

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

Did I see you at YWOL today, sitting under the wing of one of the Archer VH-SFA?

Hope you enjoyed the show and were able to get out before the weather rolled in...

Julien said...

Hi Jeremy,

Yes, that was us! Best seats in town :-)

We flew in right before the C130 in the morning and flew out right as the weather was rolling in... An interesting experience to say the least.

I'm currently trying to stitch up all the little bits of video I shot during the day, hopefully I'll manage to upload it to the blog soon.

Hopefully we can meet some time later in the year!