Episode 6 video transcript

Oh, Cairns delivers again.

We've had our fair share of adventure and history

and just overall aviation enthusiasm, really.

Never really did get to relax, though.

Maybe next time. (LAUGHS)

Cheers, mate.

(UPBEAT MUSIC)

Well, we're just leaving the tropical city of Cairns,

heading for Shute Harbour.

We're going to drop into Ayr briefly.

And we're leaving controlled airspace.

And they've been quite cooperative, haven't they, Catherine?

CATHERINE: They've been great. They've been really helpful to us.

In and out of Cairns, up to Mareeba, back again,

sequencing us in between the jets,

uh, giving us appropriate wake turbulence separation

both for landings and for departures.

Really, really most helpful, yeah.

MAN 1 ON RADIO: Echo-670-62, 5,000.

MAN 2 ON RADIO: 5,000. Echo 676.

CATHERINE: Birds. My goodness. See how close that was?

PETE: Yeah.

That was, actually.

Would you expect a bird strike with a bird that small

to have much of an impact on...

Oh, yeah, because think about his speed and our speed,

add the two together.

OK.

And then his weight.

Yeah.

Oh, yeah, impact. You'd feel it.

And would you then immediately start looking

for somewhere to put down, perhaps, in case, or...

I would be monitoring all the instruments,

I'd be checking the controls,

looking out to see if I could see any damage,

and considering either a return to Cairns

or an early stop somewhere here.

PETE: OK.

CATHERINE: What's a very good idea to do

where you read that there's bird hazard

associated with an aerodrome, either in the NOTAM or in the ERSA,

that you contact somebody in the area

and find out what kind of birds, what their behaviour is,

what time of day or night

that they're likely to be there in their greatest numbers,

and get information from the local people,

because they'll be able to tell you how they behave

and what evasive action, if any, you should take.

PETE: OK.

Local aviation insurers estimate

bird strikes cost civil aviation around $1.2 billion a year.

That's a lot of feathers.

If you're in doubt about avoiding a bird strike,

consider using a lower speed to reduce the force of impact

should the bird and your luck run out.

And always check your ERSA and NOTAMs for known areas of bird activity.

CATHERINE: OK, so we're hopping

literally from one sea town to the next to the next,

with parachuting activity happening at almost every one,

so we've got a lot going on that we just need to be aware of.

So we're 10 miles out of...Innisfail

to we're going to leave their frequency,

but we're 30 miles away from Dunk Island,

which operates on the same frequency, so we'll stay on this frequency.

We'll continue to listen to Brisbane Centre,

but we're just about to come up to... when we cross this green line,

we'll be changing over to 120.55,

so I'll put that in there.

OK, so that'll be our next area of frequency,

at which point we will give up that code and go onto 1-2-0-0.

PETE: OK.

It's been a pretty busy flight today.

I've been scanning outside the cockpit all the way,

everything from aircraft to birdlife in busy CTAFs.

We're now about to transit over Townsville Class C airspace.

It's a military aerodrome, so there's lots of restricted areas.

We hear from a few of the locals.

MAN: It's a Class C airspace in Townsville.

There's only a few of them in Queensland.

So, consult your VTC.

Make sure you understand the radio sequence

and the radio frequencies coming in.

Townsville has a huge military presence.

Out to the west of us here and up over Hervey Range

are very active, restricted areas,

so you must consult your NOTAMs

and understand where you are at all times.

The important thing to note is

that if you call air traffic control early enough,

usually at about 45-50 miles from Townsville,

they will give you a clearance and identify you

and clear you in to controlled airspace

before you get to the stage where

you are going to infringe controlled airspace without a clearance.

WOMAN: The earlier you contact delivery,

the less likelihood of delays,

because we can organise the traffic flow to accommodate,

and definitely before the boundary.

A flight plan definitely helps,

because then we don't need to have the system generate a code for you,

which can take a minute or two.

Townsville, Townsville delivery, good afternoon.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot Cessna 1-72, POB, three.

Currently 5 nautical miles to the north of Rollingstone,

maintaining 2,500, squawking 1-6-2-4.

And transiting for Ayr via the Rollingstone VFR corridor

and the Clevedon corridor.

And request airways clearance. Charlie Yankee Foxtrot...

That was a mouthful.

(PETE LAUGHS) Well said.

MAN ON RADIO: Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, Townsville delivery.

Remain outside the airspace. Expect a clearance in 10 minutes.

CATHERINE: Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, we're remaining outside Class C.

So they give us a clearance limit for sequencing purposes.

Then, if they've got some heavy traffic coming in,

they'll have us hold.

So they're giving us the clearance in pieces

just to see how long it takes us to get there

just in case they need us to stop.

Slightly easier for them to say, "You're only allowed to go that far,"

and then they know that we're not above the aerodrome

until they're ready for us.

PETE: Sort of put you on the shelf for a while.

CATHERINE: Yeah, it's like the parents saying to the teenager,

"You can go to the party and stay there till midnight

"but you need to call me at 8:00."

-Right, yes.

-That's a clearance limit.

-Check in again.

-Check in, yeah, that's right, yeah.

Townsville tower, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

MAN ON RADIO: Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, Townsville tower.

OK, so he's got us, we've got him,

and now we just continue along this route,

so basically we go from here directly now to Townsville.

And we track overhead the aerodrome,

and then from overhead the aerodrome

we then pick up the Clevedon VFR route.

The traffic from Cairns through all those parachuting areas

of Innisfail and Mission Beach, Dunk Island,

flows almost seamlessly then through Ingham and into Townsville,

and out of Townsville,

then you get this little quiet patch as we come past Ayr and Bowen,

and then it picks up again -

from Bowen into Shute will be busy, busy, busy.

That's the Whitsundays down there.

PETE: Yes.

(BRIGHT MUSIC)

PETE: The Whitsunday Islands

are located off the central coast of Australia.

There are 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday group

and it's sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef.

CATHERINE: And Shute Harbour Traffic, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot

is now centred and flying through on the long final runway 1-4.

Shute Harbour Traffic.

OK, so we'll get our landing checks out of the way early.

Has everybody got their seatbelts fastened? Doors latched?

Loose items stowed away? We're coming in to land.

PETE: OK.

Shute Harbour Airport is privately owned

and within the Whitsundays CTAF.

The airport is located in a small valley,

and there's a curved approach and departure from each runway,

and the wind can get very strong.

CATHERINE: Just adding a bit of power

to get us past any turbulence

that we might get that would upset us just there.

PETE: OK.

CATHERINE: Like that. (CHUCKLES)

Straight down the runway, which is great.

What would you expect with a funnel for a runway?

Needless to say, it's a visually spectacular approach

into Shute Harbour.

You know, you've got the Whitsunday Islands,

you've got the Great Barrier Reef - it's all so beautiful.

And then when you land on Shute Harbour, look, it doesn't stop.

You've got mountains each side. It looks really, really nice.

Have a look at these guys over here.

They've got hangars attached to their houses.

(LAUGHS) They've got it picked, haven't they?

(UPBEAT MUSIC)

(SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY)

CATHERINE: That's great. Excellent.

PETE: That's not gonna go back up the hill, is it?

OK.

Base knot. Well done.

Alrighty. She's not going anywhere, is she?

-No. No, no, no. That's good.

-OK.

CATHERINE: Two...and three. We've got all the ropes done.

OK. Excellent. Alright.

-Great. Thanks, Catherine. Ta.

-Yep. Thanks, Pete.

She's going hard on me, but with good reason.

There's a lot to learn.

You need about three brains, I reckon, to retain all this,

but I'll get there, I'll get there.

We got wind and we got mountains.

There's at least two things that you have to contend with

when you fly into Shute Harbour,

because when do, you literally just shoot in.

Hence, Shute Harbour.

So, a minimum amount of experience is going to be required.

Exactly how many hours that is, I don't know,

but Lee Haskell, one of the chief pilots around here, he'll know.

We're going to have a chat with him right now.

Lee, pretty nice part of the world you live in, mate.

-Yeah, it's great.

-How long have you had this job for?

Uh, 10 years. 10 years now, yeah.

Any plans to move on, mate? I wouldn't think so.

No, not yet. Not yet.

But as nice as it is, I mean, it must have its challenges, yeah,

flying into this area?

I mean, we noticed a big bump when we came in.

Yeah, it can be pretty tricky at times.

There's certain things which happen with the wind direction and strength

which are going to make things interesting.

What you want to look out for is the direction,

because you've got all this high ground over here

which is wind blowing from the east.

You're going to have a lot of turbulence associated with that.

So, uh, yeah, you'd want to talk to local operators

about things to expect if you're coming in here for the first time.

PETE: It's just like a tunnel, isn't it?

LEE: It is, absolutely. That's why they call it Shute Harbour.

-PETE: That'd be the reason.

-LEE: That's right, yep.

You've got mountainous terrain on either side,

big funnel of wind coming through the middle here.

-PETE: Yeah.

-LEE: Yeah.

PETE: This is the busiest area we've flown into ourselves

aside from Cairns and Townsville, with the frequencies and stuff.

Is that one of the bigger challenges?

LEE: Oh, the radio work is one of them, yeah,

but you've got a couple of airspace boundaries to contend with too -

Hamilton TR operating just over here,

and then the Whitsundays CTAF.

So there's a lot of radio work involved.

But a lot of procedural stuff around this airport as well.

There's a lot of operators conducting all sorts of different operations,

so, helicopters, aerobatics, uh, the seaplanes on scenic flights

and parachute operations too.

Is there a minimum number of hours or something you need

to fly into Shute Harbour?

Uh, requirements state it's 100 hours.

100.

100 hours in command you must have before you come in here.

So it's a good idea to call up Whitsunday Aviation Village Estate

and make sure that you fulfil their requirements for the insurance.

And just make sure you read up on the ERSA,

make sure you read up on the AIP before you come in.

Call the other operators if you need to,

and especially call up the aerodrome operator.

Any close calls or dodgy situations out here?

Oh, look, not not too bad, you know?

It's just making sure you've got a listening watch on your radio,

is the biggest thing,

especially with all the different operations around here,

especially with the parachutists.

Yeah, it's an extremely important thing

to keep an eye on them all the time.

PETE: We're about to take off for a flight out to Hamilton Island

over all these islands famous for their spectacular beauty.

But I tell you what, Catherine's got her work cut out for her,

because there are so many different frequencies,

soon as we take off here.

I'll do my best as co-pilot.

(LAUGHS)

CATHERINE: Shute Harbour traffic,

Cessna 172 Charlie Yankee Foxtrot taxiing on runway 1-4

for a departure to Hamilton Island.

Shute traffic.

-Notice we're flying very low.

-PETE: Yes.

CATHERINE: We're required to fly at least 500 feet above the water

or the ground or the terrain, you know that.

PETE: Yes.

CATHERINE: We would otherwise not be able to fly this low

if we didn't have our life vests fitted.

We would have to be 2,000 feet above the water.

Oh, OK.

If we were 2,000 feet above the water,

we could have them under our seat

and then put them on if we needed them.

But because we're flying low, it's a necessity, yeah.

PETE: Oh, yes!

Our first marine animal.

There are dolphins just down to our right there.

Think I just had a pair over to the left there.

So we'll switch over to Hamilton and have a chat to them.

PETE: OK.

Hamilton tower, good morning.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot Cessna 172. POB, three.

In receipt of Alpha. Cowrie Island 1,000, and inbound.

PETE: Hamilton Island is the largest inhabitable island

of the Whitsunday Islands,

and it's the only island in the Great Barrier Reef

with its own commercial airport.

It's very popular as a tourist destination,

which makes it a very busy hub for aviation.

..tower, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

PETE: Procedurally, what are you thinking about right now, Catherine?

CATHERINE: Well, we're about to enter Class D airspace,

so the tower on Hamilton Island controls this area

and we may not enter this airspace without a clearance.

So we have to get the weather first, then we have to contact the tower,

make our inbound call with our intentions,

and request that clearance.

When we've been cleared to enter

and told which way to proceed and which leg of the circuit to join,

we can then enter the Class D airspace.

OK, and I'm just going to put my squawk onto 3,000,

which is the squawk code for Class D airspace.

-Oh, OK.

-And we'll remain at 1,000 feet.

Yes.

And we're now going to track directly to Hamilton,

maintaining 1,000 feet,

because we're allowed to now.

OK.

And then we're going to join

right downwind with right-based runway 1-4.

Right.

So what would you actually do if the radio fails?

CATHERINE: Depending whether or not we'd already contacted...

..established contact with the tower.

If we had established contact with the tower

and were already in Class D airspace,

then change the transponder code from 3,000 to 7-6-0-0, 7,600,

continue to follow the instructions we had been given,

the approach instructions,

and make radio broadcast saying "transmitting blind"

just in case somebody can hear us.

If we hadn't yet established communication with the tower,

then we would leave our transponder on 1,200

and turn around, remain in Class G airspace,

remain in VMC, and go somewhere else.

Right.

(ROCK MUSIC)

PETE: This'd have to be one of the most beautiful flights

you can do in the world, I reckon,

Whitsundays out to Hamilton Island from Shute Harbour.

Wowee!

(LAID-BACK MUSIC)

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