It was a beautiful day and I’d booked a Piper Warrior (TAK) to take my wife and two girls down Latrobe Valley in Victoria to head south, fly around Wilson’s Promontory and then back up the coast to Moorabbin airport.
With four people in a Warrior my first challenge was getting an honest answer from each of the passengers about their weight. Being young, my girls were light enough that all four of us could go.....thank goodness as I didn’t want to choose who was going to be staying home!
We headed the five minutes down the road to Moorabbin Flying Services and while I checked out the plane I made sure that everyone visited the bathroom as it was going to be about a two and half hour flight.
Tango, Alpha, Kilo is a fantastic plane with a full glass cockpit. I found that the glass took a little while to get used to but once you did it’s really hard to go back to flying older planes. Also, being a newer aircraft the controls were really tight. I’d learnt how to fly on 30 year old planes where you could move the yoke around quite freely and still be flying straight. TAK was the reverse and it became an absolute pleasure the fly with just slight corrections with the tip of your fingers.
I couldn’t have wished for a better day. There wasn’t a breath of wind (to my passengers relief) and other than a few puffs of white cloud it was blue from horizon to horizon.
The girls love the speed of the take-off and I’m sure that Elise (the youngest) would have been happy just to do circuits all day. “It’s like a giant roller-coaster without the tracks”, she said.
Picture one is a great view straight after take-off from runway 17L out of Moorabbin airport. It’s also nice to know that the fuel cap is on as well J
We headed east towards Latrobe Valley airport and then south towards Corner Inlet. Picture two shows us flying over a few hills (keeping an eye out for possible forced landing spots) and Corner Inlet in the distance.
In picture three we are flying over Corner Inlet. You can clearly see the channels far below and the colour of the water is spectacular. When flying south you need to ensure that you keep west of Port Welshpool as there is a restricted area there that you need to avoid.
We headed down the eastern side of the Prom and along beautiful beaches and untouched wilderness. I maintained my height along the east coast so that I had plenty of room to glide and land on one of the beaches in the event of an engine failure. The southern most tip of the Prom is the only point where you will be without a possible forced landing place for about 4 minutes.
As you continue to head south you go past Waterloo Bay which has brilliant white sand. Still flying south you fly past Refuge cove which is a really sheltered bay that provides protection to yachts on all sides in the event of a storm. A few years ago a few of my family and friends sailed my brother’s boat around to Refuge Cove. It’s a magical place that’s incredibly peaceful.
At the most southern point of the Australian mainland is a lighthouse that sticks out on a rocky outcrop in one of the most inhospitable places you could find. I imagine that the fishing would be great though!
Around the western side of the Prom the views just get better and better. The picture below shows Cleft Island (the big rock). On a subsequent trip I ended up flying around the islands just to get a better look. Let me tell you it was worth it!
We now began to fly north along the west side of the Prom past Oberon Bay and onto Norman Bay. If you look closely at the photo of Norman Bay you can just see the Tidal River camp ground where I’ve spent many summers with friends and family. In the distance of the same photo is Corner Inlet.
As we flew past Norman Bay I took a quick snapshot out the left of TAK of Norman Island. Like all of the islands off Wilson’s Promontory they are rocky, rugged but spectacular.
We continued north up to the neck of the Prom and Sandy Point. I knew Sandy Point quite well as it was the very first navigation that I did with my instructor after my GFPT. I’d always wanted to fly around the Prom after that I now I’ve finally done it! Yeah!
Although the flight around the Prom was incredible the journey north west to Phillip Island is just as spectacular in a different way. Phillip Island is where they hold the Australian motor racing grand prix and the photo shows the bridge that links the island to the Australian mainland.
After about two hours we finally landed on 17R back at Moorabbin airport. The photo shows the great glass cockpit displays in TAK. It also looks like I’ve just come over the threshold and on my way to decreasing my speed to 65 knots.
If you haven’t done a run around Wilson’s Promontory then you can see from the photos that it’s one of those must do flights for all GA pilots. I’ve now done it four times and I never get sick of the views. I just wished that there was an airstrip that I could land on so that I could stroll along some of the more secluded beaches.