Episode 9 video transcript

(BRIGHT MUSIC)

Oh, how good was the Old Station? (CHUCKLES)

Pretty good place, this one.

Today we're going to make our way

from, well, just on the outskirts of Rockhampton,

we're going to make our way over to Longreach.

And that's a flight of about four hours,

so hydration's gonna be a biggie today.

But this place has just been a fantastic experience.

Ron Creed and the family here doing some good work out on the land.

And that Bell 47... (CHUCKLES) ..how good was that?

And how he uses that thing to muster is just incredible.

There's so many things going on

when you're actually undertaking that work.

1868, hey?

Imagine what his ancestors would be thinking

about the way they do things now.

-PETE: It's a...

-CATHERINE: A cow!

It IS a cow on the strip. Look at that.

Watch out for the bull at the end of the strip, Echo Hotel Sierra.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

Oh, it's a big bull.

MAN OVER RADIO: Copy. Thank you. Echo Hotel Sierra.

He's right on the 2-4 threshold.

You won't hit him unless you have a real problem.

PETE: And if you did hit him, you WOULD have a problem.

CATHERINE: You would certainly have a problem.

Just leaving the Old Station now on the outskirts of Rockhampton.

A beautiful property and a really good demonstration

of just how important aviation is out here.

We're flying now to Longreach via Emerald.

And we've left really early

because the weather is going to be quite different out there.

I mean, it's quite hot out there compared to where we are here.

And we're expecting some headwind, aren't we, Catherine?

Indeed. The wind's going to pick up in the course of the day.

The low-pressure system that's coming in behind that trough,

we'd be looking at 25, even up to 35, knots on the nose at altitude.

So we decided to go earlier,

fly in the very smooth and slightly cooler part of the day

to avoid the turbulence

and the unpleasantness of the hot temperatures

and then the delays and the excessive fuel consumption that would result

from a very slow ground speed with those headwinds.

So far it's fantastic, isn't it? This is amazing.

CATHERINE: Gorgeous, isn't it? Very smooth.

And good visibility - you can see this inversion layer out here.

PETE: Yeah. Oh, yeah!

-That's quite defined.

-Yep.

PETE: As we're getting into these hotter temperatures,

like, it's gonna get pretty hot in the cockpit here,

would you expect some problems with dehydration today?

CATHERINE: Oh, absolutely. Pilots always forget to drink water.

Very important to have a water bottle with you at all times

and to drink regularly.

As you know, at a higher altitude,

you lose more... you dehydrate more quickly

and, you know, the drying-out effects of all the sun out here

and, you know, with this glass canopy in front of us,

so, yes, dehydration is something you've got to remember.

The brain doesn't function properly

if you're not getting enough water to it.

(WATER DRIPS AND SPLASHES)

(PLANE ENGINE DRONES)

PETE: We've just left Barcaldine, heading for Longreach.

And the temperature difference in Barcaldine

compared to Emerald, where we've come from this morning,

I mean, it's only 300 k's away but it was quite significant.

And where we're flying into today at Longreach,

apparently it's... we're jumping up again, aren't we?

What temperature are we expecting?

We're expecting 35 degrees when we get there.

Ooh! Alright, so here comes a few more bumps.

-Yeah.

-(CONTROL PANEL BEEPS)

And hot winds, 1,000 feet to run.

Brisbane Centre, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot request.

MAN OVER RADIO: Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, go ahead.

Request cancel SAR at Longreach 0-5-0-4-0-0.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, Longreach SARTIME is cancelled.

Thanks for your help. Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

So I've just cancelled the SAR with Brisbane Centre.

I did it from the air because we're actually running

quite close to our SARTIME here.

-PETE: Oh, right.

-I didn't want it to lapse.

Always, very important - make sure you cancel your SAR.

If you're unsure about being able to cancel it on the ground

because of... maybe there isn't a telephone signal,

so always check that before.

Then you can cancel it from the air

but you need to make sure that you're going to be within range

of Brisbane Centre or Melbourne Centre

to be able to do that as well.

OK.

(ALARM BEEPS)

Welcome to Longreach in Central West Queensland.

430 miles we've flown west from the Old Station

through Emerald this morning.

And the temperature difference out here compared the Old Station

is really... well, it's very noticeable.

It's about 14 degrees more, I think, out here.

When we landed, we had this really strong crosswind.

And the views we had looking down on the approach

were pretty spectacular.

This is what we saw, the 747, the 707, the DC-3.

Longreach is one of the founding centres for Qantas

and it's here that they celebrate

the remarkable history of this Australian icon

and where they tell amazing stories of bravery,

exploration and adventure.

(JAUNTY DANCE MUSIC)

The Qantas Founders Museum is run by a pretty passionate group of people.

They are custodians of this very iconic piece of Australian heritage.

We're going to have a chat with Nicole,

who's gonna talk us through this pretty special place.

Nicole, Qantas is just such an iconic brand

more than our national carrier.

Why is it so iconic?

Why are people so passionate about Qantas?

Look, I think it's, one, Qantas has been around for 95 years -

this year is their 95th anniversary -

so they've transported people for 95 years,

people have worked for them for 95 years.

And for an airline to be there for that long,

they went through the whole aviation growth.

You know, they've been from the beginning to where we are now,

so there's a lot of passion behind it

and I think Australians are really proud of

that sort of history and passion.

And that history, you know, Fysh and McGuiness,

it's an extraordinary story, isn't it?

NICOLE: Absolutely.

The fact that two men were able to meet each other in a world war

and survive the war, come back to Australia

and decide to set up an airline -

of all the industries they could have gone into.

It was the newest and the most riskiest at the time, you know.

To make that decision and succeed,

you know, it was really touch-and-go at times

but, yeah, they made it through,

and just through some amazing stories to get there.

There were so many challenges, weren't there,

for these early pioneers.

Absolutely.

They used to fly early morning to avoid the bumpiness of afternoon sun

and, you know, the heat coming off the ground.

You know, just challenges, like being so far out of town

for the Longreach Airport, you know.

It was only 1924 they got electricity here.

So why Longreach?

Why did they choose this location?

Purely because the railhead was here.

So when it comes to transporting goods and that,

it was easier from Longreach.

They were here in this Longreach hangar until 1930,

when they moved to Brisbane.

The operations moved to Brisbane.

Nicole, in what respects would today's pilots be facing

the same challenges as, say, the early aviation pioneers?

NICOLE: Oh, I think, especially in your western Queensland,

outback Queensland where it gets incredibly hot in summer,

you know, pilots definitely out here

would really think twice about flying in the middle of the day

or late afternoon when it's hot

because of the heat coming off the ground,

and it makes it incredibly turbulent.

You come in on a regular flight here, it can be quite bumpy coming in,

so that's something to consider.

Also, during the rainy season, you know,

we have tarmac here at Longreach

but a lot of the properties around here

just have your sort of dirt airstrip,

so, you know, if it's been raining

it gets really sticky and muddy out here,

so they actually wouldn't be able to land or take off on their aircraft.

And what's your favourite aircraft here, do you think?

-Oh...

-And why?

Look, I quite like the DH.50.

And the DH.50 has quite a strong past

because Qantas actually built seven of them

in this Qantas hangar here in Longreach,

which is something a lot of airlines didn't do.

They're one of the few airlines to do so.

It was also one of the first aircraft

that Qantas hired out to the Aerial Medical Mission,

which became the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Queensland.

And the reason they did that is because it was the first aircraft

with an enclosed cabin which, for a passenger not feeling so well,

was really important, you know.

You don't want to be exposed to the elements,

like the old aircraft, when you're not well.

So Qantas used to hire out or loan their pilots or their aircraft

to help RFDS out and, you know, it's an amazing story.

And being out here, living out here,

it makes such a difference to have the RFDS,

to know that they're gonna be here

and come and get you if you need that help.

You know, we still use that service that, you know, started so long ago.

And it's nice to think Qantas was a part of

that really important service, yeah.

PETE: Incredible vision by John Flynn, wasn't it?

NICOLE: Absolutely.

Apparently, he actually approached Qantas a couple of times saying,

"Hey, really would like to use your aircraft."

And the aircraft just weren't right at the time,

so in 1926 when they got the DH.50, it sort of changed everything.

And, as you say, still so relevant today - still.

-And will continue to be, really.

-Absolutely.

People fundraise out here for the RFDS.

Everyone's been affected or helped by the RFDS,

so, yeah, it's actually nice

to be...live in a place which is still so affected by Qantas.

I mean, it's been 95 years since Qantas started here,

but you still have families that worked for Qantas,

you know, or their relations did.

We get to work in this hangar,

and, you know, this is a pretty special place to be.

A lot of Longreach locals use this as their airport terminal,

this hangar here, so, you know, it's not such a relic

and it's such an important relic at the same time.

So it's one of our most significant sort of items

or buildings in this museum,

which is amazing to think a building as significant

as, you know, an artefact.

Well, it's a fantastic place to come and see

and it's good to see the celebration of this history.

And you do some fundraising too, don't you?

So we're a not-for-profit organisation.

We're not owned or operated by Qantas,

but, of course, we have a good relationship with Qantas.

So we're fully self-funded.

Any support we can get, we really appreciate, yeah.

It helps us to tell these amazing stories

that most people don't know, yeah.

-They are incredible stories.

-Absolutely.

I can't wait to have more of a look around, Nicole.

-No worries. Thank you very much.

-Thanks.

We catch up with Shona Daveson.

She's the senior LAME at Longreach aircraft maintenance.

And for a place like Longreach,

where there's so much reliance on aviation,

Shona is a busy woman.

What's the main issues that you see in this part of the world?

A lot of the aircraft that I work on are the workhorse,

so they're used for aerial mustering and things like that,

so they get a fair bit of wear and tear.

When it rains, we have a lot of mud wasps in cooling systems,

in your fins or on oil coolers

and also joining, like, trim cables -

they're all on the trim cable together.

-OK.

-So...

You're sitting there trying to work your trim and it won't move

and it's 'cause there's a mud wasps nest across the cables.

What about... I mean, how hot does it get out in Longreach?

It can get up to 50 degrees.

-In the summer.

-50 degrees.

What does the heat and the sun,

what does that do to an aeroplane?

Obviously, your sun on your fuselage, your paint's going to deteriorate.

If you haven't got sun shades, your dash is going to deteriorate.

And that cabin becomes a bloody hot box.

If you've got batteries or whatever lying in there,

they will explode and things melt.

Like, your aircraft dash, it's plastic.

If you've got sun shades, put them on.

When you're flying, you definitely know when it's hot

and it gets a lot rougher,

and you might consider changing your oil as well

to a different viscosity to help with the cooling.

OK, and when a pilot brings a fixed wing into here,

is it ever, "Shona, you gotta do this -

"we've gotta get out of here tomorrow morning"?

All last-minute sort of stuff I'm sure you don't enjoy.

(SHONA LAUGHS) Yeah.

You do get pressure from owners wanting their aircraft back

as soon as possible

'cause none of them are local to Longreach,

so they've gotta pay accommodation.

And we try and endeavour to make sure the plane's in and out

in an acceptable time frame.

So, overall, what would be your main message, I guess, to pilots

to make your job a little bit easier?

Or just from your experience and what you've seen

that happens to aircraft, what would be your message to them?

Don't treat it like the work Toyota.

-(LAUGHS) Yeah, right.

-Yeah.

When you thinking aircraft, you're looking at over $100,000.

At the end of the day, it's your life.

You can't pull over on the side if there's a hiccup.

We endeavour to try and get everything done as quickly as we can

and within our capabilities,

but there are times where the weather's out of our control

or the freight's out of our control.

Yeah. And don't tinker within schedule 5.

Yes, stick with what you're allowed to do.

I think a visit to Longreach in Central West Queensland

is an absolute must - put it on your bucket list.

In fact, I think it's a rite of passage for any Australian.

What you find out at the Qantas Founders Museum

about the history and the innovation of the aircraft

and the guts of those early aviation pioneers...

It really is an extraordinary thing

to come out here and check all of that out.

Now, speaking of guts and inspiration,

imagine getting into an aircraft without an engine.

'Cause that's exactly what we're about to do at Lake Keepit.

(LAID-BACK MUSIC)

Return to video