Tyabb Airshow

Well, how quickly have another 2 years sped by? It’s time again for the bi-annual Tyabb Airshow, to be held this year on Sunday 11 March 2018. Gates open at 08.30 and the air display starts at 11.30. The theme of this year’s show is ‘War & Peace’ and there will be many of the old warbirds, for which Tyabb is famous, on display on the ground and in the air. In addition, many Tyabb hangar owners will be opening up their doors to show aircraft old and new.

The airshow this year is sponsored by BP and Eastlink, as well as the Peninsula Aero Club, which has a proud tradition of supporting local community service clubs from the proceeds of their airshows.

The 2018 Airshow is no different with the major beneficiary to be Riding for the Disabled (RDA). RDA Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation that enables individuals with a variety of disabilities, ages and backgrounds to develop independence, a sense of freedom and to reach their equestrian goals, through adaptive coaching techniques and equipment.

The Aero Club will also be supporting the Tyabb CFA, a vital service for all of us, the Mt Eliza Lions Club which exists to support the comminity through a variety of initiatives and the Tyabb Football & Cricket Clubs which serve local youth.

You can save $5 per head by purchasing your tickets on line by clicking here. This will also save you having to queue at the gate to get into what is always a very popular show.

Foxbat Australia will have several aircraft on static display, including the Kelpie and Vixxen, as well as the evergreen Foxbat – come along to Hangar 11 and say hello – we are just across the grass to the south of the main club house.

Bi-Annual Flight Review (BFR)

AFRWell the time came again – all too soon – for my PPL medical and bi-annual flight reviews. I can’t believe it’s two years already since the last one… they tell me the speed of time passing is something to do with age, even though I don’t feel a day over 40!

First, the medical. At my age, I have to do a PPL medical every 2 years. My previous doctor, who did about 3 or 4 medicals for me over the years, has decided the demands of CASA are too great and so I had to find a new ‘DAME‘ (designated aviation medical examiner) to go to. Although I left 2-3 weeks before my old medical expired, it was still a bit of a push to get an appointment before the expiry. LESSON 1: leave plenty of time to book your medical!

On the due day, I arrived at 08:30 in the freezing cold and pouring rain of a typical Melbourne winter morning – note: the sun was shining by midday and the temperature was up by about 10 degrees.  I did all the usual tests – eyes/eyesight, ears/earsight (or should that be ‘hearing’?), reflexes, colour vision, peripheral vision, height, weight, blood pressure, and more. In preparation, you now have to fill in an online medical questionnaire on the CASA website and the doctor checks this all through with you. Interestingly, I didn’t have to undergo the dreaded ‘rubber gloved finger’ test this time. I understand that this check is not as reliable as once it was believed to be.

Everything was completed OK and then the doctor told me I had to get an ECG done, as I hadn’t had one in a while. Conveniently, there was a cardiology place almost next door. Indeed I haven’t had an ECG since I can remember and it’s amazing how much the process has changed over the years. The cardiologist wires you up and switches on the machine, which then automatically goes through the individual traces and beams it all via the internet to the central cardiology analyst. It must all have been OK because the medical was issued.

Total cost for the medical: $110 plus $75 CASA processing fee – less than the $210 annual cost of renewing my RA-Aus membership. The ECG was bulk-billed. LESSON 2: the annualised cost renewing your PPL is less than half as much as the annual cost of belonging to RA-Aus.

Next my bi-annual flight review – which I have always called a BFR – but I’m told is officially now called an Aeroplane Flight Review or AFR. Here, at least, some sense has prevailed at CASA and RA-Aus because you can do your AFR in a general aviation VH-registered aircraft and, as well as revalidating your PPL, the same flight also revalidates your RA-Aus Pilot Certificate. LESSON 3: make sure your instructor is both PPL and RA-Aus rated if you want to do just one AFR covering both categories. (If you don’t want to search the CASA website for information on AFRs – a should destroying process – click here for the relevant information; then click the link to download the ‘ratings’ pdf)

I was originally aiming to do my AFR in my A32 Vixxen demonstrator, but a few weeks ago, a flying school made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I was in the tandem-seat tail dragger Interstate Cadet.

I pre-flighted the aircraft and double-checked the weight and balance (the instructor sits in the back) to make sure we were well within limits. Typical of Tyabb, the wind that day was exactly 90 degrees across the main runway, so first test: which is the preferred runway direction in these circumstances? LESSON 4: check ERSA and/or the rule book for your airfield before your AFR.

We taxied out behind a couple of spam cans (sorry, Cessnas) and waited our turn at the holding point. After take-off (watch for that cross-wind!) we turned and climbed out towards French Island, a largish area of land in the middle of Westernport Bay, notorious for its own climate. But above a couple of thousand feet everything was smooth, so we did a few ever-increasingly steep turns and an engine-out forced landing (without actually touching down!). We then trundled over towards Port Phillip Bay – a bit bumpier here, even at almost 3,000 feet and then back towards the naval college at Cerberus. All the time, the instructor was asking me questions, sometimes about the aircraft, sometimes about its flying characteristics, sometimes about the controlled and restricted air space around the area, all gently checking my airmanship and knowledge. LESSON 5: relax, the instructor wants everything to be OK too!

Eventually after almost an hour, the command came to return to Tyabb. We could hear traffic on the radio, so joined down-wind, this time for runway 17. Because of the recent rain, the grass at Tyabb was unserviceable that day so we were landing on the bitumen – not my first choice in a tail dragger with a stiffish cross-wind breeze from the east, which makes for a nice little bit of turbulence as it comes over the hangars on that side of the airfield. Should I 3-point or wheel it on? Decisions decisions… With someone in the back seat, the Interstate likes to 3-point, so in spite of the cross-wind that’s what I opted for. In the event, the wind gods were with me and the landing was OK – not my best greaser but certainly quite acceptable. So we taxied in and shut down.

The AFR is really quite straightforward, particularly if you fly regularly as I do. I guess if you haven’t flown for a year, you’ll need to do a fair bit of swotting to make sure you have the answers and a few circuits to re-awaken your flying skills before the AFR!  There’s no pass or fail with an AFR – just useful reminders, even lessons, to keep you flying safe. Thanks to Nick Caudwell at Peninsula Aero Club for his advice and signing my logbook! Thoroughly recommended – 5 stars.

Outback trip to Innamincka – day 5

Aeroclub stranded

Aeroclub stranded

The less said about today, Wednesday, the better. Although one highlight – if you could call it that – was our appearance in the local newspaper under the banner ‘Areo Club Stranded’. The short piece featured a photo of the suitably photogenic Ido in front of the suitably photogenic Bush Hawk. (click the picture to see one big enough to read)

The day dawned grey and drizzly. We ate breakfast at Charlotte’s Cafe (again) and checked the weather forecast several hundred times. It looked like we might be able to fly south to Mildura, starting around midday. But there was low cloud both at Broken Hill and Mildura.

So we went out to the airfield and once again enjoyed the hospitality of the Aero Club. As the drizzle slowly cleared and the cloud lifted, so did our hopes. Further improved by the local charter Cessna 206 departing to the north and some delayed REX flights arriving from Adelaide and Sydney.

We were getting set to go – cloud was lifting at Mildura too – and it was all looking good. However, a couple of check phone calls, one to the aviation BoM weather forecaster and one to the flying club at Mildura dashed our hopes. Although there had been an improvement, conditions were predicted to worsen appreciably by the time we could arrive at Mildura, a couple of hours later.

Reluctantly we called off the trip, again hoping for better weather on Thursday. If the worst came to the worst, at  least Friday and Saturday are forecast to be ‘mainly sunny’ all the way back to Tyabb.

At around 1430 one of us was foolish enough to check the Mildura AWS (Aerodrome Weather Service) automated phone-in weather report. Oh, cruel weather! Cloud base was 5,700 feet and visibility over 10 kilometres! But by then it was too late to untie the aircraft, pack them up and safely make Mildura before last light.

So off back to town we went, this time staying at the Ibis Styles Motel and eating at the Cafe Alfresco Italian restaurant. Maybe Thursday will be flyable, although the weather forecast is not encouraging. Present plans, which could change any time, are to fly to Mildura and if the weather is kind, on to Robe on the South Australian coast.

Whatever, goodbye to reaching Tibooburra, Camerons Corner, Innamincka, the Dig Tree and White Cliffs. Maybe I should change the titles of these posts to ‘Enjoying a week in the rain at Broken Hill’. So it goes.

Tyabb Airport upgrades

Tyabb FlypastOver the next few months, Tyabb Airport will be undergoing some significant works to repair and improve the main apron, taxi-ways, drainage and runway lighting. Money for these works was granted through the regional airports development fund – other airports near to Melbourne which have also benefitted significantly from the development fund include Coldstream and Lethbridge.

Tyabb is home to the Peninsula Aero Club (PAC) – a club and school open to anyone interested in flying, whether as a social or flying member. Current PAC membership stands at almost 600. On pretty well any sunny day, families can be seen picnicking on the grass in front of the club house, watching the aircraft taking off and landing. PAC organises the bi-annual Tyabb Airshow, the last of which was held in March 2014, with an attendance of well over 5,000. Plane Crazy Down Under has produced a video of the 2014 Airshow – details and ordering information can be found here: Plane Crazy Tyabb Airshow DVD

The airport is also home to a number of other aviation related industries, including service and maintenance facilities, as well as to Cubcrafters Australia, agents for the Carbon Cub, and of course to Foxbat Australia!

Of particular interest is The Old Aeroplane Company (this is a link to very nice current video), which is based on the western side of the airport. Owned and operated by Judy Pay, The Old Aeroplane Company not only restores and services older aircraft (as well as new ones), it also houses a unique collection of warbirds and other interesting aircraft – here’s a link to a Flickr gallery of some of them: Old Aeroplane Company pictures . You can visit – but phone to check first to ensure they are open: 03 5977 3355. Here’s another article and pictures about the recovery and restoration of a Curtiss P-40F Warhawk, one of the gems of the Old Aeroplane collection.

For those who want to fly in, Tyabb Airport is one of the few regional airports offering both Avgas and 98 Octane Mogas at the bowser. Daily and overnight parking is available.

If you’re visiting come over and visit Foxbat and Cubcrafters at Hangar 11 – the first hangar due south of the PAC club house.

Flaps podcast

Flaps Podcast

Flaps Podcast

I must confess – I am a bit of a podcast addict. I subscribe to all sorts of podcasts including comedy, short & long audio-stories, plays & drama, science fiction, and news. Unfortunately, good aviation audio podcasts seem to be few and far between, but one of my favourites is Flaps Podcast.

I like it because each issue is reasonably short – about 30 minutes long – and always leaves you wanting to hear more at the end. The downside is that some episodes lately seem to be very UK-centric, although earlier issues (for which they won Sony and New York Radio podcast awards) are much more general in their coverage and so overall more interesting. Every episode includes the ‘Pablo Mason Minute’ in fact usually about 3-4 times that long – where Pablo, an ex-RAF jet pilot and Squadron Leader recounts some specific flying experience, often quite hilariously.

One episode in September 2011, and its companion ‘Flaps Extended‘, was particularly interesting – they covered an interview (in both short and extended form) with Manuel Queiroz, who flew an RV-6 round the world. He was quite a low time pilot until he did the flight – an inspiration to us all. Click here for Manuel’s website ‘Chasing the Morning Sun‘, which has all the details of his flight.

There is an Australian aviation podcast called Plane Crazy Down Under but most episodes are well over an hour – sometimes over two hours – and are just too long for me. I’m usually ready to switch off after 40 minutes. If they broke up the episodes into shorter lengths and published them more often, I think that would suit people better. And maybe if they included an interview with Foxbat Australia along with all their other aircraft manufacturer/importer segments, it would be nice…….

Plane Crazy Down Under recently completed the DVD of the recent Tyabb Airshow (see my earlier blog post here) which is now available from Peninsula Aero Club by calling 03 5977 4406 with your credit card number.

Do you know any good aviation podcasts – or blogs?

The Ercoupe – a unique aeroplane

The Ercoupe was first manufactured in the late 1930’s by a company called Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO). In one form or another, it continued in production until 1970 by which time over five and a half thousand had been built.

ErcoupeThe Ercoupe is unique in at least three main ways:

– it is truly spin proof
– it was the fist mass manufactured aircraft to have a nose wheel (as opposed to a tail wheel)
– it has no rudder pedals; steering on the ground and in the air is achieved solely through movement of the steering wheel-like control yokes

Even today, the Ercoupe remains a popular aircraft and many have been restored and maintained to near-new standards. Some of the models qualify for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) status under current regulations and are an excellent, safe and relatively inexpensive way to enjoy flying.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video about the aircraft, owned by Jack Vevers, a member of the Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia (AAAA), and a leading member of the Peninsula Aero Club (PAC) at Tyabb airport:


PS – You might just catch a glimpse of a Foxbat wing and strut during one of the air-to-air sequences. The Foxbat makes a great photo-ship. Watch this space!