With the recent release of the 2018 tours, I decided it was time I kept it 'local' for a while and so, the 2018 Australia & South Pacific tour has commenced.
As I write this post, I'm sitting in Auckland, New Zealand. Only in a virtual sense unfortunately.
NZAA could use the FlyTampa/Orbx treatment, but then again, my PC probably couldn't handle a detailed airport of this size, so…as you were boys.
The tour started down the road from my place (well, 120km or so down the road…) at the Gold Coast. Known by by yours truly as 'Cooly', YBCG is a hive of activity these days. Many years have passed since I flew there in a lightie, with the occasional 737 for company. Now, Cooly receives the big boys from Asia.
Fortunately, Orbx have been focusing some of their development efforts in this region and recently released their Gold Coast Cityscape to much acclaim. It chews up FPS like nobody's business, but it's bloody impressive and brings the region to life. I understand that a custom Orbx-ed YBCG is just around the corner as well. I hope it is available for my return at the end of the tour.
My first flight saw me do a night time run from Cooly to Coffs Harbour, or 'Coffs' as the locals call it. Our aircraft of choice is Majestic's Q400. Again. The Q400 is a popular bird down under and it has captured my simming heart for now. In due course, I might post a review of the 'Q to the WWV forum as it really is a rewarding bird to fly when you take the time to learn its quirks.
Anyhoo….a lovely night VFR approach into Coffs was followed by an even lovelier touchdown on runway 21.
The next day, we continued south to Wollongong, or 'The Gong' as the locals call it. I've spent all of 24 hours in the Gong, but what a memorably messed up 24 hours it was. Anyway, we made good time and travelled overhead Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and YSSY on the way down.
Sydney was home to yours truly back in the day. I spent my late teens living in Kings Cross or 'The Cross' as the locals call it. The Cross was pretty lively then, not the bland place that it is today. Nowadays, you can almost walk the streets without being stabbed or dragged in to a strip club. Bland.
I screwed the pooch on this arrival, getting myself horribly misaligned to the wrong runway. And by 'wrong runway', I mean a road. My virtual pax were none the wiser as I ducked and weaved my way onto runway 16.
The next flight was a short hop across to Canberra, or 'Hell' as the locals call it. I actually like Canberra, probably because I never lived there. Yet another pooch screwing to be had as I miscalculated the descent point and ended up higher than Johnny Depp at an after-party. To make matters worse, the conditions were better served by flying an instrument approach, which I of course had forgotten to select. "The Q400 turning final, are you visual?" Umm, if that's a runway at our 1 o'clock, then yes. Yes we are.
The first of several long overwater crossings was up next, from Canberra across to Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island. Helped by a full load of gas and a tailwind, the Q400 made it easily and in good time. ETOPS be damned.
I love Queenstown and would return in a heartbeat if the financial gods were a little kinder. It holds a special place in the hearts of myself and the wife. In addition, it has to be one of more challenging and fun places in which to commit aviation, either virtual or real. I've spent countless virtual hours flying every approach they have available, plus a few I invented myself (as you do). Orbx's rendition of NZQN is pretty handy.
And so, with a scenic departure out of Queenstown, we made our way up to Palmerston North and then onwards to Auckland, where I've been busy planning the next flight - the 'big one' across to Tahiti. At 2000 miles+, it's well beyond the range of the Q400, but with some creative licence, I've included a virtual stop in Rarotonga for fuel that will see us through.
Until next time, blue skies to all!