Dunwich Fly-in Breakfast
Straddie Aero Club hosts a fly-in breakfast on the third Saturday of each month (mostly). Intrepid aviators (and a few trepid ones as well) from all over South East Queensland are reputed to attend this well-known event. The Aero Circus team and a few friends dropped in to see what goes on, and sample some famous island hospitality.
On a cool, grey November morning at Archerfield airport near Brisbane, the Aero Circus team was busy preparing their aircraft for the short but ‘interesting’ flight to Dunwich airport, on picturesque North Stradbroke Island. PPL’s (and wannabe CPL’s) Gavin and Ian would be charged with ferrying 9 passengers in two 4 seat Cessna 172s from YBAF to YDUN and back again. With air safety fairly high up the priority list, it was decided that each pilot would fly an extra return trip on each leg so that nobody had to share a seat.
Given that they had 30 minutes between first access to the aircraft and the start of breakfast on Straddie, the pressure was on to get the first group of self-loading cargo briefed, loaded, airborne, relocated, landed and unloaded at the other end so that one of the aircraft could return to Archerfield for the final 3 pax. As Saturday mornings at Archerfield are always busy with training flights, and Dunwich airport usually expects around 30 to 40 aircraft to land before breakfast, there was no time for stuffing around.
To make it more interesting, Dunwich airport is situated in a bowl-shaped depression, with trees all around. The strip itself is grass over sand and, some say, was levelled by a blind man on a dark night. Once you make your CTAF calls, master the approach over a tree-lined ridge and get your descent profile just right, you touch down on a corrugated surface that wants to flick you back up into the air at several points. Add the excitement of various native fauna trying to have their breakfast on your runway, and it all adds up to a challenging morning’s adventure. Sure beats the hell out of landing on a boring sealed runway with ATC watching your back.
Breakfast was ‘all you can eat without going over MTOW’ and surprisingly ‘gourmet’, with a wide selection of fruit, freshly barbequed bacon, eggs, snags, mushies and other delights as well as toast and a wide selection of hot and cold drinks.
Some of the Aero Circus magicians put on a show for the punters, while others checked out the wide range of sometimes strange and unusual aircraft, some of which looked like they had been reassembled by the same guy who built the runway.
Once it was all over, the process was repeated and all the happy ‘customers’ were returned to Archerfield, just in time for lunch.
While not a long or arduous flight, this exercise did serve well to enlighten our trusty PPL’s about what they could expect if and when they move on to the commercial licence level. That is, not enough time, lots of pressure to perfom perfectly, and bugger all in the bank to show for it.
But most importantly, it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.