I went flying today with two good friends; Andrew and Michelle. It was bumpy with howling (30kt) SW winds but despite the nerves and turbulence they say they had a good time. The strong winds weren't all bad though; it cleared the pollution from Sydney's air and we could see from the coast to the mountains!
Departure was planned for 10am local, but we didn't get off the ground until 10:34. That's what happens when a plane has been left idle for 2 weeks and no-one knows how much fuel, etc. I hadn't planned on needing to pump it full of fuel and sort out a few other paper-work things. But we got off the ground and simply needed to tell Flight Watch to amend the SAR (Search-And-Rescue) time.
The trip north was pretty gentle to start with. We climbed out to 1500ft and tracked coastal to Stanwell Park. Once there, we dropped down to 500ft continuing coastal to Sydney Heads via "Victor One" - the low-level corridor that gets you along the coast and under the controlled airspace around Sydney.
Approaching South Head, I called up for an airways clearance to do some orbits (circles) at the Harbour Bridge, which was granted. I tried to get a more direct clearance home but due to the active runway in Sydney (07/25) they couldn't clear me from the bridge to fly south - bugger. Back the way we came :( So it was back out to Sydney Heads, drop down to 500ft, south via Victor One, then back to Wollongong via the coast. I did climb back up to 2500ft once clear of the controlled airspace to smooth things out for Andrew and Michelle.
On the way back home we spotted a pair of migrating whales on their way north just east of Stanwell Park. It appeared to be a mother and calf (could've been father and calf, but it didn't roll over for us to check it's gender :P). A couple of tight orbits near the whales, but alas no brilliant photo's...they don't surface long enough to get a good shot from an aircraft moving at nearly 200km/h! Still, it was a wonderful sight.
Both my trusty (or is that "trusting"??) passengers managed to get through their first ( ever ) flight in a light plane with nerves intact...breakfast wasn't quite so lucky - that turbulence at 500ft between Cronulla and Stanwell Park was quite rough.