Australia, it is a wonderful infinity, says Jiri Prusa after he’s flown above the continent for over 18,000 kilometers

16.10.2017

Downtown Sydney. Credit: Jiri PrusaDowntown Sydney. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Downtown Sydney. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Famous Ayers Rock. Credit: Jiri PrusaFamous Ayers Rock. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Famous Ayers Rock. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Lake Eyre, infinite white salty plain.  Credit: Jiri PrusaLake Eyre, infinite white salty plain.  Credit: Jiri Prusa
Lake Eyre, infinite white salty plain. Credit: Jiri Prusa
 Our Cessna 182.  Credit: Jiri Prusa Our Cessna 182.  Credit: Jiri Prusa
Our Cessna 182. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Ian Fraser and Jiri Prusa during the crossing of Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia.  Credit: Jiri PrusaIan Fraser and Jiri Prusa during the crossing of Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia.  Credit: Jiri Prusa
Ian Fraser and Jiri Prusa during the crossing of Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Australian national bird Kookaburra. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Australian national bird Kookaburra. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Our Cessna at Forrest Airport in the middle of a dust-bowl south of Ayers Rock. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Our Cessna at Forrest Airport in the middle of a dust-bowl south of Ayers Rock. Credit: Jiri Prusa
Australia 2017 expedition itinerary. Source: Flying Revue.
Australia 2017 expedition itinerary. Source: Flying Revue.
Expedition Logo. Source: Flying Revue
Expedition Logo. Source: Flying Revue

Australia 2017: Interview by Jan Dvorak   Cessna 182 and Ayers Rock, Cape York, Sydney, Melbourne, Gulf of Carpentaria, and endless, hundreds of kilometers long deserted beaches, flying for hours and hours above the infinite dusty landscape with equally endless, perfectly straight railroad in the middle. All this and much more is Australia from above. Find details on Jiri Prusa’s another successful expedition.  

Jiri, were your expectations, both expedition and Australia itself, fulfilled?

Yes, all my goals have been met. The weather was great (it only started raining on my last day), the plane flew flawlessly, so there was nothing else to wish for. I did not have a chance to get to know Australians very much though. I did not meet many in the air (laughs), and I spent my time on the ground downloading data, writing my notes and preparing for the next flight. I did however talk to Ian a little, of course. If I could consider him as a representative of the Australians (he was South African 30 years ago after all), they are great. 

Australia 2017
”sahara”

Route: Camden – Melbourne – Adelaide - Ayers Rock – Perth – Darwin – Cairns – Brisbane – Sydney – Camden
Origin and Destination: Camden (YSCN)
Start: February 11, 2017
End: February 28, 2017
Length: 18,000 km/10,000 nautical miles
Flight time: 90 flight hours
Fuel consumption:: 4,500 litres
Aircraft: Cessna 182, VH-SDN
Crew: Jiri Prusa, Ian Fraser
Website: Australia 2017
Organized by: Flying Revue

What was the most exciting experience during your expedition?

First, Lake Eyre - the endless, beautiful white space. I cannot explain it very much, but if you fly over it, it's amazing. Then, Port of Sydney, Harbour Bridge, and Opera House. The beauty beneath me combined with joy that I managed to finish the expedition and flew all the way up here, above the center of one of the icons of modern civilization, it all made me feel truly amazing. One of the highlights of the expedition was undoubtedly when I flew over Ayers Rock, which I have been planning for several years now. 

What disappointed you?

Nothing from the nature point of view disappointed me. I was surprised, though, that even in Australia there were problems with internet connection and at some airports also with fuel availability. 

What was the most difficult part of your expedition?

Ground logistics - often accommodation and transportation from and to the airport. But Ian took care of it, so it didn’t bother me much ... (laughs). 

What about Australian airports?

No issues there. There was practically no contact with anyone at uncontrolled airports, as there is no administration. The Australian system uses cameras that automatically capture a picture of the aircraft and issue an invoice to be sent to the owner. Therefore, there is no need to fill out any forms. Everything was as usual at controlled airports. 

Celou expedici den po dni včetně videí, fotek a deníku najdete v našem speciálu Austrálie 2017.
Celou expedici den po dni včetně videí, fotek a deníku najdete v našem speciálu Austrálie 2017.

Can you compare this expedition to your USA trip?

Duration of my expedition to Australia was about 10 flight hours shorter, this corresponds to the fact that the USA is slightly larger. The difference would have been somewhat greater had there not been a strong headwind.

There was more of "spectacular attractions" in the US, but I saw the infinity of unoccupied space in Australia, and that is a great experience in itself. Flying is cheaper and simpler in the USA as there are no airport charges, and Avgas and aircraft rental are cheaper by approx. 40%.

Naše Cessna na letišti Forrest uprostřed polopouště na jih od Ayers Rock. Letiště je v podstatě náves vesnice, ve které žije 10 stálých obyvatel. Desítky fotek a videí z expedice najdete na webu Austrálie 2017 (viz baner nad touto fotkou) Foto: Jiří Pruša
Naše Cessna na letišti Forrest uprostřed polopouště na jih od Ayers Rock. Letiště je v podstatě náves vesnice, ve které žije 10 stálých obyvatel. Desítky fotek a videí z expedice najdete na webu Austrálie 2017 (viz baner nad touto fotkou) Foto: Jiří Pruša

There is no need to provide flight plans in the USA nor Australia; however, it is better to provide one if you plan to fly into a controlled area in Australia. Big difference arises when you plan to fly over large airports; there is no problem to obtain a permission to fly over big airports in the US, but it is very difficult to get one in Australia or Europe.

Airports in both, Australia and the US, are all at a good standard level. In Australia, however, it is a problem to get Avgas at times because there is only one supplier (BP, Esso, Shell, etc.) and they often only accept their cards and do not accept regular credit cards. That became a rather big problem for us in Western Australia since we only had Esso and Shell cards, not BP cards, and there was only a BP supplier at all airports in Western Australia. The only way around it was for us to find someone and pay cash. We had to wait till next day in Derby because of this, which of course delayed our expedition.

Australia also has a lot of "rural" runways with no one there, and very sporadic traffic. We landed on some of these after a long flight, and it was ok. You might need to obtain a permission beforehand in some though, but this is the same in some of the US airports.


Coconut Island and Cape York, the northernmost point of Australia

Otherwise, a pilot can appreciate that there is no administration, there is no need to provide FPL, and there is a very good navigation app called AvPlan with daily updates of limited spaces in Australia.

What would you advise to pilots who would like to fly here?

I’d say buy the AvPlan app, which not only works well, but it also has a database of all airports, regulations and special procedures (for example, for national parks, cities such as Sydney, etc.). Also, it is necessary to pay attention to which airports a PPR is needed for landing (Prior Permission Required). And finally, always get familiar with the airport information and consider whether you can buy fuel there (who the supplier is, what kind of payment is accepted, what times are they open, etc.)

Logo expedice.
Logo expedice.

Yes, everything went smoothly, same as dealing with the Airborne Aviation flight school. The school is very professional and has a good name here. It is led by Nick Caines, a B777 pilot, so he's a professional in every aspect. Nick helped me tremendously with organizing validation of my PPL and obtaining security clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority. Nick and/or someone from his team helped me a couple of times even during my trip with filing of the flight plan where I needed one due to the planned overflight of bigger cities (Darwin, Cairns ...). Everything was always the way we had agreed.

What is the difference between a check ride carried out in Australia and in the USA?

The check ride instructors in general need to see that you have enough confidence to pilot an aircraft in different flight modes - pre-flight operations, taxiing, communication, take-off, entry into to the circuit, flight at stall speed, stall prevention, etc. In addition to this, the instructor in Australia wanted me to prove that I know how to communicate at uncontrolled/non-towered airports. This is probably because a lot of airports are uncontrolled or even unmanned.  "Self-reporting" is therefore crucial for pilots to know about each other. I have never been asked to prove this ability in the USA.  

Flying Revue Expeditions
”sahara”

See webistes of our other expeditions: USA, Sahara, North Sea Island, Carribean aj. Here you are.

How was flying with another person in the cockpit?

Ian, like me, is also a little bit of an introvert, so we did not talk much during the flight. At times, he handed me a Musli snack stick and that was about it although we had plenty of those as we usually managed to get only one decent meal per day. Often, we were also speechless at the beauty below us. I was glad Ian was flying with me as the ground logistics was more demanding than anywhere else I'd been before, and he arranged everything wonderfully.

Before the expedition you were concerned about possibly having to sleep in areas with poisonous creepy-crawlies…

Yes, in the end I was happy that we didn’t have to use our sleeping bags and sleep rough. But I did not even have the feeling that there would ever be real danger, that we were ever on the edge.

What about other types of danger, did you experience any?

We passed the three-hour passage of water with our life jackets on, but everything went well. I had to avoid two storms on the way, but nothing else. I flew in the altitude of 10,000 feet so I’d have plenty of time should any problems arise. Fortunately, all went well. 

What are your plans for future expeditions?

The world is big and I want to fly over all of it. Now I dream about Alaska…

 

Jan Dvorak

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Flying Revue > Our flying > Australia, it is a wonderful infinity, says Jiri Prusa after he’s flown above the continent for over 18,000 kilometers

 

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