Adelaide to Scone (NSW)


14/06/2008


The day dawned bright and clear, but with some cloud at 2000 feet or so. It looked as though we had made the right decision in delaying our flight to Scone.

Paid the hotel bill and took a taxi to the airfield. The departure procedures were fairly simple, although there was a need to keep a good visual lookout as we climbed away. The Parafield controller was very good and gave us initial headings to steer to avoid restricted areas before he handed us over to Brisbane Centre who would be our contact throughout the remainder of the flight. There was some cloud to go through on the climb out but generally the weather was very good and we enjoyed the scenery along the way.

There is high ground all around Scone and we delayed the descent until well clear of the mountains. They didn’t seem particularly high, but they are nevertheless higher than any in the UK. I was glad that I was making a visual approach to the airfield which is situated in a valley and is at an elevation of 745 feet above mean sea level with high ground at over 3500 feet in the vicinity. Didn’t expect anyone to be there on a Saturday as it is a small airfield, but we made the procedural radio calls and they went unanswered. Couldn’t see the windsock very clearly as we flew over but the wind had been south-easterly all the way and runway 11 seemed the obvious choice. On finals, the GPS confirmed that our groundspeed was less than the airspeed and we came in for a safe landing. We had used the satellite phone to advise Grahame of our estimated arrival time, and we believed he had got the message but the environment in the cockpit is noisy and communication was not brilliant.

As we taxied along the runway I heard Steve say “There’s a reception committee” and I looked across towards the parking area. There were at least twenty or thirty people, most of them schoolchildren, who were waiting for our arrival. I was unsure of where to park, on tarmac or grass but a voice on the radio said we were OK on the tarmac. Stopped the engine, applied the brakes, and exited from the plane to be met by lots of children who had placards spelling out “Welcome Jim and Steve”. It was a brilliant moment and we felt honoured to have arrived in this fashion.
There were lots of introductions and photo-taking and the children were delightful, with lots of questions. One of the mums had made scones for us so that we could have scones in Scone, and one small boy inspected the underside of Romeo Tango and pronounced that it was “all in order”. This gave me some reassurance.

After tea and scones, and much conversation, Cynthia and her teacher colleague Janine read out a story which the children had made up about our trip – they had used their imagination to full effect, bringing in Concorde, the Queen, Michael Jackson and the Australian Cricket Board into the story....!

After this, Grahame and Cynthia drove us to their house in the country where they have quite a big spread. Grahame is a radio “ham” with lots of gear in which we were very interested. We had an excellent meal and then it was time for me to get on the internet, check weather, etc and make plans for the next day. I had decided to omit Sydney Bankstown from the schedule because it was too difficult to arrange customs clearance there and the only option was to use Sydney’s international airport. Now that we were north of Sydney it felt easier to continue that heading and I looked at the options of Coffs Harbour or Gold Coast. I had spoken to Customs in Adelaide and had discussed the possibilities with them. The decision was made to go to the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta but it was well past one o’clock in the morning before my head hit the pillow and I fell asleep. Steve and I had discussed his trip back to the UK and there was a train service from Scone to Sydney which he would catch in the next day or so. I felt guilty about not spending more time here but I didn’t want to fall further behind in my timetable.