WOMAN: Distracted by a little something out there and think, "Oh!"
MAN: Something they don't want to be. What are they going to do?
Right, over to you, guys.
Well, the crew's just getting sorted with the cameras there.
We don't want to miss one second of this trip.
We're heading out to Channel Country in outback Australia.
Then we're going to turn right and see how close we can get to the top of Australia.
I've always wanted to see just how beautiful and diverse this beautiful country of ours actually is.
And to see it from a small aeroplane, the classic Cessna 172, it's going to be remarkable.
This is Out-N-Back 2.
Done a bit of a long-range forecast for our trip,
and it's looking pretty good.
PETE: Well, the crew's in its final stages of planning.
Everything's going like clockwork.
All the weight and balances have been done,
the weather's looking fantastic,
an engineer has checked the aircraft,
flight plans have been lodged
and we are getting so, so close.
And you know what?
It looks like we are going to get all the way to Horn Island,
right to the top of Australia.
We'll be travelling more than 3,000 nautical miles,
and between the ever-changing landscape and incredible sunsets,
we'll seek out some of the characters
that truly make up the backbone of rural aviation.
And we'll give you plenty of tips and advice along the way
and some extra information on our safety topics page.
I'm flying with Catherine Fitzsimons in the Cessna.
Catherine's a chief flying instructor from Bathurst
who's experienced in teaching jackaroos how to fly
and is used to covering endless miles in a light aircraft.
CATHERINE ON RADIO: ..Cessna 172...
PETE: Dan Murphy will be flying our support aircraft,
the GA8 Airvan.
The Airvan's suitably named as it carries a fair bit of gear.
But Dan's already laid down the law.
7 kilos each. That's all.
Catherine and Dan have refuelled both planes
and done their daily inspections,
so I think we're ready to go.
And I can't wait.
Well, the wheels have just left the ground! (LAUGHS)
This journey has started.
We've just taken off from Bathurst.
And the conditions are really favourable.
CATHERINE: Yep, very pleasant conditions.
We've got some cloud that we'll need to stay below for the time being,
but we can see the horizon clearly ahead, so we're good.
PETE: It's pretty spectacular.
The visibility is so nice from up here at the moment.
CATHERINE: Listen to this.
MAN OVER RADIO: ..unverified.
The other is slightly north of that track
at 8,300 feet unverified, tracking west.
We'll be passing in about one minute.
CATHERINE: It's just interesting.
That's why it's good to listen to the area frequency.
He's alerted some aircraft to the fact
that there were two of them quite close together south of Bathurst.
This is in Class G airspace where it's 'see and be seen'.
We all look after ourselves.
So I'm always listening.
As well as the frequency that I might be broadcasting on,
I'm always listening on this other frequency
just in case there's some information
that will help me with situational awareness.
And now I might need to make sure what...
I might need to broadcast there
and say, "Hey! I might be one of those aircraft."
Always be on the right frequency at non-controlled aerodromes.
And if there's an assigned frequency,
that's the one you use.
And if you don't have a designated frequency,
always use multicom 126.7.
And for those that aren't on the charts,
well, you'll always use the area frequency.
If you're operating out of a busy aerodrome
that uses the multicom
and there's frequency congestion,
contact your local RAPAC
and see if you can get a designated frequency.
Go to the CASA website for more info.
On this journey, I'm going to be helping Catherine navigate
using visual reference to features on the ground
using the WAC.
Well, this is the most prominent thing I've seen for a long time.
Even though there's a GPS on board,
you shouldn't use it as a sole means of navigation.
Look, it's a great backup to find out
exactly where you are on the chart
but you should always have your current charts and documents.
Look at this landscape. It is forever changing.
You know, there's hardly any roads.
-Compared to where we've come from.
-CATHERINE: That's right.
Yep, we're getting into the region of less featured terrain.
It will become really featureless the further west we head.
But you can already see there's less on here -
less roads, less creeks, less rivers, mines, things,
to guide you.
PETE: So far we've been relying pretty heavily
on the features in the terrain.
CATHERINE: Exactly. And we've had plenty to choose from.
Over 150,000 acres that we're flying over right now
belongs to Goodwood Station and Polpah Station.
And this is where Barry Turner lives.
And we're going to land on the dirt strip at Goodwood Station
and we're going to have a chat with Barry.
So obviously aviation's been a big part of your life
because of the distance.
-How did it all start?
-It started with my dad.
He bought a plane - bought a new Cessna back in 1964.
He used it as a spotter, just to fly around
and see where the stock are in the paddock.
PETE: How does aviation fit into your working life?
BARRY: It's a fairly prominent part
because we use the plane not for mustering itself but for spotting.
Because you've got big areas, you save a lot of time.
You'll go out to a paddock, it might be 15 or 20,000 acres.
Well, if you're going to ride through it, it'll take all day.
PETE: So, Barry, any pilots coming into this area,
what would you suggest to them landing on a bush strip?
What would be your advice?
Low-flying inspection to start with, look for stock.
Kangaroos and emus are a constant problem.
Even sheep - they're not all that smart, poor old sheep,
so they're going to run in front of you before they run away from you.
So you do your low, 50-foot inspection.
Land in the wind as you would normally, but just be very very watchful,
make sure there's no other stock around.
Outback, obviously, is very different to coastal flying or anything else.
What are the main things to think about out in the outback?
BARRY: No low flying in the middle of the day.
You get a lot of turbulence in the middle of the day -
even in the wintertime here it can be quite turbulent.
I know of a couple of incidents
where people have crashed because of low flying
in the middle of the day, been caught with a bit of turbulence.
Just make sure you've got plenty of height and speed.
So, what about prop care out here?
BARRY: It's fairly important on stony strips like this one
because there's a lot of little stones there
and when you actually give it full force to start with,
it lifts the little stones up
and chips the leading edge on your prop.
I always love it when I get onto the Cooper Creek map.
It means you've hit the red dust!
PETE: Dan and Catherine have done our flight plans this morning
and thankfully the weather is looking really good.
Barry's been up and down the airstrip making sure it's clear
and with no sheep, kangaroos or emus on the airstrip,
I think we're finally ready to fly.
We're heading now to Birdsville,
and we're going to put down at Tibooburra to pick up some fuel.
CATHERINE: Indeed we are.
This is a non-controlled aerodrome,
and we haven't been able to get weather information beforehand.
We're going to overfly, check the windsock,
determine then which runway we'll be using.
At that time, that's when we would also be checking for stock.
PETE: OK, yep.
Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, switching to CTAF.
MAN OVER RADIO: Copy, Echo Hotel Sierra.
Tibooburra Traffic, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, Cessna 172.
1-0 miles to the south-east at 4,500.
Inbound, estimating the circuit area at time 5-1.
PETE: Well, here we are, Tibooburra, for a refuel.
Why have you chosen here, Catherine, for a refuel?
Well, uh... (LAUGHS)
..because the refueller answered his phone!
And this is directly on our route.
We knew that the fuel was going to be available,
also knew that the strip was good here.
PETE: It's really important in your flight planning
to factor in where you're going to get your fuel.
Looks it's not available everywhere
and a refueller may not even be around
at the particular time you want to land.
So it's a really good idea to ring ahead of time
and give them an ETA.
Also, make sure you have your credit card or carnet card.
So we're just pulling out of Tibooburra.
We just did a fuel stop there.
And it's pretty lucky that we actually rang, isn't it?
CATHERINE: Yes, absolutely.
Rocky was telling us that she's only able to get fuel
when the fuel truck agrees to come in,
if he's got enough work filling up other stations along the way.
Yeah, she said it's very important
to check in advance that they do have fuel.
Here we go - we're flying from NSW right into Queensland.
So we really seem to have lost any features.
How do you know that we are heading in the right direction?
CATHERINE: It's very important that we aviate, navigate, communicate.
We've got to fly the plane, make sure we know where we're going
and that we look after radio communications as well.
So holding heading is really important.
So picking out points ahead and maintaining them.
Is the compass calibrated? Yes, compass is calibrated.
And we go through a series of checks that we call our clear-off checks.
We do it regularly while we're navigating.
It becomes really important in this terrain.
I've been doing it in my head before but I'll do one aloud.
So first thing I do is check my compass,
make sure that my magnetic compass
and my gyroscopic compass are aligned.
PETE: The flight's going really well
and I'm learning so much from Catherine.
I've always been pretty competent at navigating,
but navigating visually from a small aeroplane,
this takes it to a whole new level.
Wow, and that's all of Birdsville right there.
Right there, that's Birdsville.
Here we've got the racecourse.
PETE: The famous racecourse!
CATHERINE: THE famous racecourse.
Charlie Yankee Foxtrot final 3-2 for a full stop, Birdsville.
Welcome to Birdsville!