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"888": 8hrs, 8 Segments On An Aussie Dash 8 (pics)  
User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 18855 times:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5101/5582080888_06439c71dc_b.jpg

This is not a trip report about a longhaul flight in a premium cabin from Europe to North or South America or Asia with flatbed seats and IFE with 500 movies to choose from. It’s also not about what food or type of champagne was served onboard and whether the flight attendants addressed me as “Sir”, or took my coat when boarding. It does not cover glitzy airport lounges and their interiors, experiences with connecting flights through major hubs or transcontinental mileage runs for fun.

This trip report is about a little known but essential intrastate airservice provided by a small airline that operates throughout the vast reaches of the State of Queensland, Australia.

A few years ago at the family home in Brisbane (BNE), the Queensland capital city, I came across a photo that was taken in February 1986 with my father standing in front of a Sunstate Airlines GAF N24 Nomad at Toowoomba Airport(TWB). Toowoomba is 127km west of Brisbane. My father explained that he had to make an urgent business trip to Toowoomba, which is ordinarily a perfectly reasonable drive from Brisbane, but as time was of the essence, his business party flew there with Sunstate, who was then a dominant player in the commuter market in Queensland. The flight was a mere 30 mins in the air from Brisbane.

In the photo, the scene was idyllic: a bright sunny day, a compact but functional terminal surrounded by a well maintained garden and a lone commuter aircraft resting on the ramp being prepared for another short hop.

A recent trip back to Australia to visit family got me thinking about doing a few day trips, but nothing as routine as Brisbane to Sydney or Sydney to Melbourne, routes which I have flown many times over the years. I was looking for something I had not done before and wondered whether there were still scheduled flights to Toowoomba from Brisbane as I really wanted to experience a short commuter flight from Brisbane, and on an aircraft that wasn’t a common A320 or B737.

Welcome to my latest trip report.

AN IDEA TAKES SHAPE

I quickly discovered there was still scheduled airline service to Toowoomba. These days, Sunstate no longer exists as an independent airline as it did back in 1986, but another airline, Skytrans (www.skytrans.com.au) operated the route with Dash 8-100s. I had not flown on a Dash 8 - 100 since 1992.

More than that, the Skytrans “Outback” route (as it’s described in their schedules) continued on all the way through to Mt Isa (ISA) [pron Mount Eye-Sa], a large (by Queensland standards) mining town in the far north west of the State. This service operates to ISA twice weekly, returning to BNE the next day and is subsidised by the Queensland Government as part of an essential air service contract. This is very similar to some services operated in more remote parts of the US and Canada.

GOING ALL THE WAY!

Being the avia freak that I am, the fact that the service touches down 7 times between Brisbane to Mt Isa made me think: “Why not go all the way to Mt Isa?” “Am I completely crazy?” I think you know the answers already.

On 10 March 2011, I would start my day trip by departing Brisbane at 9am on Skytrans flight Q6 010. It would end 8 hours and 3,600 km (2239 miles) later in Mt Isa, with intermediate stops at Toowoomba, Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville, Bedourie and Boulia.

GreatCircle mapper shows the route like this



*The reference to OKY is explained further below.

2239 miles of flying in a Dash 8-100! Another flying marathon. Barely recovered from my Delta marathon in the US in December, (see Keep Climbing & Don't Stop - 48hr DL Marathon (by Palmjet Dec 15 2010 in Trip Reports),)
this marathon would be “run” in my own backyard of Western Queensland.

The cost was not cheap – in the realm of A$300 one way, but as I was only in Australia for a short period, and this was such a unique route, I did not feel too squeamish about paying over my money to Skytrans via their simple but easy to navigate website. Sure I could have spent the money on 10 flights with Ryanair out of STN, but hardly exciting compared to the “outback” route operated by Skytrans. Plus I hate FR. Booking was hassle free and I received my confirmation e-ticket vie email shortly after. All I had to do was wait.

DEPARTURE DAY ARRIVES

An early start to the day but one I had been much looking forward to for months saw me arrive at Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal at 630am. The flight was not due to depart until 9am but I wanted a little time to do some spotting. Brisbane’s Domestic Terminal complex, in particular the parking facilities, are undergoing considerable renovation and expansion. They are certainly building for the future here. Quite a contrast to the scene back in 1986 when this terminal did not even exist when my father flew from the then small and old(er) Eagle Farm terminal on his Sunstate flight to Toowoomba.



Check in for Skytrans is located in the common user section in the middle of the terminal complex, which it shares with the likes of Jetstar, Tiger, Aeropelican, Strategic, Brindabella Airlines and Alliance Airlines. When this terminal first opened in 1988, this part of the airport remained closed for a number of years as there were no other airlines operating domestic services other than Ansett and Australian Airlines (who had their own dedicated sections of the terminal complex). Things are much different today, although to be frank, the Domestic Terminal could do with some updating.



At first it wasn’t obvious where the Skytrans desk was located, but I soon realised it was actually behind the Jetstar desks and next to Tiger Airways. At 7am, with coffee in hand, I decided to try and see if the flight was open for check in.

No OLCI is available for Skytrans flights.



I found two very nice ladies were chatting away behind the single Skytrans counter so I asked them whether check in was open. Fortunately for me, it was. When I presented my ID and told them I was going to Mt Isa, this was met in unison with the response and smiles “Ah so you’re the Mr Palmjet who’s going all the way to Mt Isa today” and “You do know that it stops a few times”. Yes! That’s why I booked this flight. My response was accompanied by a rolling-of-the-eyes and the customary “you must be crazy” look that I’ve received before several flights of mine in recent years.

Nevertheless, after a pleasant chat about whether the flight was full and how my seat had been allocated, I was given a prepared hand written boarding pass. I can’t even remember the last time I had one of these - in fact, it must have been in the late 80s sometime. A nice retro blast from the past to start the day. Seat 4D was mine.



With a friendly “have a great flight” and boarding pass in hand, I proceeded through security, which was surprisingly fairly light at this hour, and up the escalator to the departures level for some spotting. I was also keen to see my Dash 8 on the ramp and get some photos. It was a pleasure to go through security here, as it was at all Australian airports I travelled through whilst I was visiting. None of the liquids, take your shoes off, take your belt off, take your watch off, give me your boarding pass, take your laptop out nonsense that has unfortunately become the norm in Europe.

A wander through the Qantas and Virgin Blue areas of the terminal revealed a fair amount of activity – many early morning departures to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and a B767-300 flight getting ready for 5 hour non stop to Perth.



The 767-300s in these colours have been around for a long time now



A gaggle of Qantaslink Dash 8 - 400s. QF have a considerable fleet of these aircraft now.



Dash 8s everywhere! Downsview or Brisbane?



Activity at the Virgin Blue gates



A row of Virgins



Departure to Norfolk Island

THE AIRLINE



Skytrans (IATA Code Q6) was formed in 1990 as a charter airline, and began scheduled flights 3 years later. Based in Cairns, in North Queensland, the airline was in 2006 acquired by Australian Aviation Holdings. The airline currently provides scheduled service to a number of North Queensland destinations and operates charter flights throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea. Skytrans also provides fly in fly out charter services to large mining companies within Australia. In addition to flights from Brisbane to Mt Isa and Thargomindah, it operates from its base in Cairns to Lockhart River, Coen, Aurukun, Mount Isa, Bamanga, Edward river, Normanton, Doomadgee, Gununa, Burketown and Kowanyama.

Skytrans route network courtesy of their magazine “Inflight”



THE AIRCRAFT

Manufactured in 1994, VH-QQL is a Dash 8 - 100, MSN 388, and originally delivered to US Air Express (Allegheny) as N825EX in the same year. Plying the skies above New England and the North Eastern USA for a number of years, the aircraft was stored in October 2009 before making its way down under in 2010. It forms one of 11 Dash 8 - 100s in the Skytrans fleet.

I was pleased to see QQL being towed to its parking spot at a remote parking stand good 45 mins before departure being readied for its journey to ISA.



A closer study of VH-QQL



Approximately 40 mins before departure, I decided to head to Gate 36 to see what was going on. I’ve never used this gate before at BNE, and it was down on a lower ground level. BNE does not have facilities to bus passengers to aircraft parked at remote stands or off jetbridges - passengers have to walk across the tarmac, which is fine, as long as the weather is sunny, which is mostly the case in Queensland.



Heading to Gate 36



Interestingly only the first sector to Toowoomba was listed on the FID.



A small group of passengers were already at the gate and there was no activity at the gate from anyone at Skytrans. I sat contented and stared at the JetStar A320 that was parked at the next gate.



Boarding soon commenced following the arrival of one of earlier mentioned check in staff. The load on this sector looked to be quite light – no more than approx 14 persons were travelling to Toowoomba today.

Segment 1: Brisbane (BNE) - Toowoomba (TWB) [actual Oakey]
Flight time: 30 mins

Boarding was announced 10 mins before departure and I ended up being given a new boarding pass at the gate for 3D. “Have a great flight” as my boarding pass was handed over and soon I was heading out onto the ramp unescorted to walk to the aircraft! Plenty of time for a close up pic.



I was greeted at the door by an immaculately dressed flight attendant, who later introduced herself during to the safety demonstration as Lauren. A cheery “Welcome onboard today” was followed by an offer of newspapers (The Queensland Courier Mail or The Australian) and a small bottle of water. A positive first impression.

The headlines revealed how many parts of Queensland had been declared a disaster zone.



The cabin looked well used, and contained 28 light grey well worn leather seats. Seat 3D was just behind the starboard propeller. I wonder in hindsight whether these were the same seats used when QQL was flying for US Airways Express?



Legroom shot - seat pitch was fine once I moved my camera bag into the overhead compartment



All passengers were quickly on board and the main door was retracted and shut. By now, we were a few minutes late although nobody seemed to mind.

Two announcements were made at this point. Firstly, we would be landing in Oakey (OKY) instead of flying to Toowoomba, due to runway work being carried out at the latter airport. I had wondered whether this was due to the terrible flooding that Toowoomba and that part of Queensland had suffered in mid January that made international headlines. Oakey is 29km (18 miles) west of Toowoomba. Passengers for Toowoomba would be met at Oakey Airport by a bus, which would transport them to Toowoomba Airport.

Initially I was disappointed that I would not be landing at the very same airport as my father did 25 years ago, but there was nothing I could do about it. Still, on the plus side, there is not ordinarily any commercial air service to Oakey so it would be a rare route in my log, if nothing else.

The second announcement made was that as this was the aircraft’s first flight of the day, the captain wanted to do a couple of tests with the props, so we experienced a couple of high speed stationary revs before taxiing away to the departure runway, which today, was Runway 19.

Just before the props were fired up



The safety demonstration was performed manually. A sole flight attendant has to work extra hard given that they have to do the demonstration and actions and hold the cabin PA phone all at once. Lauren had clearly done this many times and it was performed flawlessly. I used this time to take a peek at the safety card in my seat pocket.



Inside



Other page



Our little Dash 8 was soon launching into the warm morning sky. Passing the international terminal shortly after take off. The sole A380 gate is at the far right - although no A380 operators currently fly to BNE, they are expected to arrive in the near future. EK is expected to be the first.



The QF 744 on the far left is the daily direct LAX flight. From later this year, BNE will be linked directly with DFW when QF begins the SYD-DFW-BNE-SYD route.



Banking right over the Brisbane River



Still turning



Given the aircraft’s age, I did not consider the cabin noise to be excessively loud and certainly no worse than any other aircraft of a similar vintage. I also had nobody next to me, so I could spread out a bit – plenty of room for me on today’s flight.

Climbing higher amongst the puffy clouds, we would be flying relatively low for the first sector.



Cabin service on this short 30 min sector consisted of drinks – and a refreshing icy cold apple juice felt just right.



I had no intention of reading the paper on this sector, and remained captivated by the unusually green landscape down below us. All that rain has made parts of Queensland that were once riddled with drought look like English country gardens.



Mostly farms down there



Within no time at all, a sudden change in pitch in the noise from the props, and we started our descent into Oakey. I don’t recall having ever been to Oakey in recent times, although I may have travelled through there when I was younger, but that would have been in a car.

Gear down and locked



The region is characterised by rich farmlands and this was pretty evident from the window of seat 3D.

Chasing our shadow



Over the farms....



...and fields



A few light bumps on the way down and we were soon on the ground at Oakey where the weather was very much like Brisbane – warm with a temperature of approx 28C (82F).

Oakey was a much larger airport than I envisaged. Then I remembered it was an important location for the Royal Australian Air Force. A number of recently retired Caribous of the RAAF looked like they were being stored here. The terminal building looked relatively modern and well maintained, although it was very small. There was no other commercial traffic on the ground apart from us, so our arrival caused a fair amount of activity and interest.

Props were shut down directly in front of the terminal. Passengers remaining for the next leg were asked to remain onboard as our turnaround time in Oakey was less then 20 mins.

Passenger bags ready to be loaded in front of the small terminal



A couple of passengers disembarked and those were replaced by approx 8 new passengers. Our capacity was now approx 20 passengers in total for the next segment to Charleville.

Segment 2: Oakey (OKY) - Charleville (CTL)
Flight time: 90mins

The next leg would be to Charleville, much further west and north of Oakey. This would be the longest sector of the day.

Departure from Oakey was quick, with no other traffic around. We had some great views of the surrounding countryside on climb out.



Making our way further west



One of my favourite pictures from the trip, and the cover picture for this report



Once well established into our climb, the Captain made a short announcement, welcoming us on this flight and giving some flying information – we weren’t flying any higher than 18,000 ft but the air was mostly smooth, with only the prospect of only a few minor bumps on the way were predicted.



Progressively the landscape changes from lush farmlands to more arid and dry surfaces when travelling west. The soil also starts to turn ochre and red which is what most people think the outback in Australia is like. It was at this point that I was reminded that this was the furthest west in Queensland I had ever travelled. Pretty pathetic (on my part) considering I was born and lived here for nearly 25 years. It’s only after you leave that you tend to appreciate where you grew up much more.

Given all the rain in Queensland recently, it was amazing to see that the landscape was actually very green, rather than brown and orange.

At our cruising altitude, and heading for Charleville



Back to the flight….. on this sector, further drinks and morning tea service was provided. This consisted of some crackers and cheese and a muffin, along with a juice. All was fresh and filled a nice gap. If I recall, tea and coffee were also offered.



In between glancing out at the landscape below, I managed to do a little reading and snoozing.



Commencing our descent soon after, we were soon floating over the runway for our arrival in to Charleville.



A very smooth landing and short taxi to the terminal was accompanied by the instruction from Lauren that as the aircraft would be refuelled in Charleville, all passengers continuing onto Windorah would need to leave the aircraft and re-board in approx 20 mins. Great! A chance to stretch the legs and have a wander around.

Oh yes it does! Welcome to Charleville



Charleville maintains a significant historical connection with Qantas as the following pictures illustrate -

Inside the terminal



And outside the terminal building



With VH-QQL in the background



Nice to see that an important piece of history is being commemorated. Sir Hudson Fysh is of course, remembered today on a Qantas A380.

A scene repeated to be repeated throughout the day. A compact terminal building and a lone Dash 8!



Baggage reclaim, Charleville style



While many of the airports served along the way to Mt Isa are operated solely by Skytrans, the route from Brisbane to Charleville has competition in the form of Qantaslink Dash 8s. They have a cute check in counter inside the terminal which was closed at the time of my visit. No QF flights due at that point.



Back in the mid 1980s, when my father flew to Toowoomba, Charleville was served by TAA F-27s from Brisbane and I was amazed to see an old set of F-27 sized passenger airstairs, still in the now faded TAA livery of the mid 1980s. It made me feel incredibly nostalgic actually as it was during this period that my love for commercial aviation really started as a boy and when flying was a much more simpler, less stressful experience compared to today.

Our aircraft being refuelled -



At the same time, in the past week, many of the outback towns in Queensland had been cut off completely by some far reaching flood waters. As there was no way in or out by road, the only way to provide food and other supplies was by air. Additional cargo in the form of perishable food items were loaded into the rear cargo bay whilst in Charleville. It dawned on me that this “Outback” service provided by Skytrans was such a necessity to the local populations who live out this way.

A short time later, all passengers were invited to board (or re-board) the aircraft. By now, the temperature had crept up over 32C (90F) so it was a relief to get back on the aircraft which remained nice and cool inside. A very friendly welcome from Lauren. “Hi again” and I was seated in 3D for the short hop over to Quilpie.

Segment 3: Charleville (CTL) to Quilpie (ULP)
Flight time: 35mins

With a full load of foodstuffs for our stranded countrymen and women in Quilpie and beyond, we made our way to the runway and again, there was no traffic in the area so we were swiftly in the air for the short sector to Quilpie.

Lining up for RW30 after backtracking



A sprightly departure out of Charleville



Still climbing on this perfect day for flying



Service run for this sector consisted of a pine orange drink with a full sized bag of chips (crisps if you’re British). I’d hardly made much progress with the chips and we were already making preparations for landing at our next airport - Quilpie (ULP)



The landscape started to change colour at this point



The cabin was shortly after prepared for arrival. Locals on the flight heading to Quilpie seemed to be surprised at the amount of water around us as we were on final approach. It certainly looked quite spectacular (from the air at least).



Hope there’s a dry runway ahead!



Touching down toward lunchtime, we made our way to the very small terminal facility in Quilpie. Situated some 200km west of Charleville on the Bulloo River, in central Queensland, the town has a population of approx 600 people.



Heading for the terminal facility



The terminal!



Our stop in Quilpie was only short so continuing passengers were asked to remain onboard. Several passengers left us here and no new passengers boarded. Our passenger count now numbered approximately 12. I asked the crew whether I could take a couple of pictures outside, which was absolutely no problem at all. Pictures were practically encouraged! Not like the mean and nasty Easyjet employee at Tenerife South in February who yelled something like “security reason - no photos” in garbled English at me!

Captain checking the cargo hold



Nose shot



A view of the tarmac and surrounding vegetation



Taxiway leading to the runway



It felt very warm outside, so I hastily retreated to the cool cabin.

The door was soon closed, and we headed to RW27 for the next onward segment to Windorah (WNR). By this stage, I could almost recite the inflight safety demo along with Lauren. Before departing, passengers had to be re-distributed toward the front of the aircraft to balance the additional weight we were carrying in the form of supplies for those areas which had been cut off by heavy flooding. Luckily I was able to stay in 3D.



RW27 for us today



Gear up



Goodbye Quilpie



Climbing higher and setting course for Windorah



END OF PART ONE... Continued below


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
78 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 19060 times:

PART TWO

Segment 4: Quilpie (ULP) to Windorah (WNR)
Flight time: 30mins

Another short hop further north west to Windorah. Service consisted of drinks and either crisps or peanuts. I had peanuts this time with a Coke Zero.

The landscape enroute seemed to change again, with some glorious views that reminded me how amazingly huge the State of Queensland is in terms of area, and at the same time, how sparsely populated it is the further west you go.



A few more puffy clouds now blocking the view



With the window framing the picture



Only a short time later, the Captain announced we’d soon be landing in Windorah and the little Dash began yet another descent. Without much in the way of any turns, it felt like a pretty straight approach over what’s known as the Channel Country in this part of Queensland. The name comes from the numerous intertwined river systems that cross the region, which cover 150,000 square kms. Gradually sinking lower and lower, we started to get some amazing views of the incredible power of nature, and the floodwaters, which were just outside the town.



More flooding



Close up



Getting closer to Windorah



Only about 5 mins to landing from here



Flooded river



Passing the town before touchdown



Almost there



Touchdown



A short taxi brought us to the tiny but modern terminal - no larger than a garden shed! Welcome to Windorah! At least it was air conditioned, as the heat by now was oppressive. Inside the building consisted of a few seats and a table with some communications equipment which seemed like it was for use for the Skytrans crews.



The terminal



A look back at QQL resting before being refuelled again (by the captain!) for the next few legs up to ISA.



Feeling crammed like a sardine on the Jubilee Line? Always having to push through crowds along Oxford St? Want wide open spaces? Come to Queensland : view of QQL, with the taxiway and runway behind



Windorah (population 60 people) is known as the Heart of the Channel Country and apparently, in the local Aboriginal dialect means “Big Fish”. Residents here experience extreme temperatures - in summer, it can get to 50C (122F), and although it was not as hot as that on my trip, it was certainly the hottest I felt throughout the day at approx 35C (95F).

Segment 5: Windorah (WNR) - Birdsville (BVI)
Flight time: 45mins

No formal boarding “call” was made. Skytrans have ground crew at each of the stops and the nice lady in the Skytrans jacket simply called out to everyone who was travelling that “We’re boarding now”. Everyone ambled out and back onto the aircraft - to be greeted again by Lauren. Definitely had feelings of deja vu now!

I wasn’t the only one taking pics!



Our passenger count was about the same - although we did have one new passenger join us, who was going to Bedourie, a couple of stops away yet.

Departing Windorah on RW04 for the 45 min flight to Birdsville.



Goodbye - it was (as always) but a short stop



It was a little bumpy on climb out but we were soon travelling in smooth air



One of the few roads in the region - which goes for miles and miles and looks almost endless from this height



Lunch was served on this sector and this consisted of a large ham, cheese and salad roll. Nothing fancy but served with a smile. No choices were offered - it was either that or nothing! Drinks were offered at the same time. The roll was fresh, as were the ingredients. It was also a decent size and was perfectly adequate for this sector. This time the co-pilot give us some flying information, and we were expecting to be on the ground in Birdsville approx 10 mins late.

Food & ..



Beverages,



This sector provided the most amazing views of all the water and flooding out here. From the air, the landscape was simply stunning, although you could see how destructive it could be. I could also see where some of the roads had been totally cut off by the water.



More water



Even more water



The landscape looks almost lunar out here



and here



and here!



Quite a few clouds were now building up as the heat of the day increased further



More scenes along the way whilst lunch was being served



Water has not quite completely covered this area



But looks pretty impassable down there



This road had been completely cut off by the water



Again, it felt like we were only in the air for a short time, before we started our gradual descent toward Birdsville.

There was still a lot water the closer we got to Birdsville, including just on the town’s outskirts. Gear down over the water!



Another cut off road just outside Birdsville



The town of Birdsville appeared on the starboard side, with the floodwaters right next door.



Nearly there



Passing the famous Birdsville Pub which is right next to the airport. It’s on the corner of the street in the pic below. The Birdsville Pub is as remote as a place gets, standing since 1884 on the edge of the Simpson Desert. The pub’s name is forged into Australian folklore - there aren’t too many Australians who haven’t heard of the Birdsville Pub. Shame we would not have enough time for a drink though! This was as far west as we would travel today - and the closest to South Australia I have been.



Taxiing in to the small facility, the props were shut down, and passengers continuing onto Bedourie were asked to remain onboard, as the stopover here was only brief. A few passengers got off here, including a lady and her small baby - who had made such a long trip successfully - the baby still in good spirits. Part of that was due to Lauren who went to a great amount of trouble to ensure the passenger and her child were as comfortable as possible, even nursing him (the baby that is) during some of the earlier stopovers whilst we were on the ground. Another example of the outstanding customer service observed on this flight.



Welcome to Birdsville. No refueling for us though here.



(Empty) cabin shot after most passengers disembarked here. No new passengers joined us here and by now, we were down to 3 passengers - with me included plus a ground member of Skytrans staff who was going to Bedourie, our next stop!
Note how the back row is still configured in a 2-2 configuration. I’ve been on some Dash 8 -100s where the rear row is just a complete row of 5 seats. There were 28 seats in total on VH-QQL.

I had a chat with Lauren at this point, and explained what I was doing and why. Awesome! was the reply and we had a nice chat about flying this route and how much she enjoyed it. She then told me that she would organise a visit to the cockpit and chat with the crew up front once we got to Mt Isa - without me having to even ask.



I had a chance to get a quick picture outside, where it was extremely warm.



View of the terminal building from the aircraft’s door



It was also interesting to see that we had little itty bitty fold down movie screens above the seats, as well as a main screen at the front of the cabin. This was never used throughout the flight, apart from a brief foray on the last sector between Boulia and Mt Isa - but I was too engrossed in the views outside to watch anything. The first time I had seen these on a commuter prop aircraft was recently in Gran Canaria on an Islas Airways ATR72. I can’t imagine these existed when the aircraft was flying with US Airways Express.

Note also “retro” NS sign.



We were soon good to go again. The main passenger door was closed and we were taxiing out to the runway. This time, no need to give the safety demonstration via the aircraft PA system - Lauren simply chatted it through with the three passengers onboard. The most personalised safety presentation I’ve ever experienced on an aircraft!

Segment 6: Birdsville (BVI) - Bedourie (BEU)
Flight time: 35mins

Farewell Birdsville. The floodwaters from a different angle and a road leading nowhere as we set our now northerly course for Bedourie.



On climbout, and setting course for Bedourie, we were again treated to some more spectacular scenery below of mother nature’s recent work



Climbing toward Bedourie during mid afternooon



A completely flooded river system



Parched landscape contrasted with the floodwaters just outside Birdsville



More views



Service on this sector consisted of drinks and snacks although by now, I was not even vaguely hungry, having been fed and watered on each previous sector. I was also now being addressed by my first name and this happened for the rest of the flight. Talk about personalised service and I wasn’t even travelling in J!

Looking back from where we’d come



Clouds again building up - it looked quite ominous further north as afternoon storms looked to be in full swing.



More water, water, water



The water theme continued even as we descended into Bedourie



Gear down



Get the floats out again. Is there a dry runway ahead?



Passing low and fast over the small town of Bedourie just before touchdown



Almost there - runway just ahead (I hope)



Touchdown



Passing a lone cessna while heading to our parking spot



A first peek at the tiny terminal in Bedourie



Although we weren’t being refueled here, we were allowed off the aircraft as additional foodstuffs were being unloaded in Bedourie and we’d be a little longer on the ground than usual.

An afternoon image of our aircraft while disembarking



A “Welcome to Bedourie” sign faded in the hot sun of Western Queensland



The terminal up close. Note toilet signs for references to “Sheilas” and “Blokes” ! Ha, they clearly have a sense of humour here. Actually, it’s Bedourie INTERNATIONAL Airport.....can’t imagine any operations to international ports from here. Same guy, or bloke (or maybe a sheila) with the sense of humour again!



QQL resting after its long journey so far.



Looks like they might be building a new terminal facility here?



Bedourie is 1600km west of Brisbane, and 200km north of Birdsville. The population is small - approximately 140 hardy individuals. It’s not uncommon for the town to be cut off for months when nearby river systems flood. Air service is not a luxury out here - it’s essential.

Bedourie Airport had relatively recently been upgraded - although I was hard pressed to see where exactly - I think most of the work was actually done to the runway, to be fair. Skytrans is the sole operator at this airport, as it is to Birdsville, Windorah and Quilpie.



A couple of new passengers joined us here, who were going to Mt Isa to connect with the Qantas nonstop B737 service to Brisbane, so our load had increased to 7 passengers! The heat was again oppressive so I was glad to wander back out to the aircraft to retake seat 3D for the last stop before Mt Isa: Boulia.

We were now running about 30 mins behind schedule at this point. When Lauren found out that this passenger (and me) were on the Qantas flight from ISA, she asked the cockpit crew to radio ahead to Mt Isa to tell Qantas there were two passengers on their service to Brisbane that evening. She later came back and told us that there was no problem, and Qantas said we’d have no problem making the flight. How’s that for going the extra mile?

END OF PART TWO. Continued below



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 19030 times:

PART THREE

Segment 7: Bedourie (BEU) - Boulia (BQL)
Flight time: 30mins

Lining up and ready to go



Goodbye Bedourie International Airport



Gear nearly up



Climbing to 17000ft enroute to Boulia



Cabin service consisted of an offer of drinks and peanuts, although I only accepted a drink - still actually feeling full from all the snacks and food from the previous sectors.

More clouds along the way



An amazing sight - pockets of storms and rainfall in the distance as we commenced our descent into Boulia, some 20 mins later.



Much of the flooding that had been evident from Quilpie onwards now appeared to have been left behind, as the surrounding countryside outside Boulia looked dry and rather green. Clearly they’ve had plenty of rain here.



Gear down over the trees



Green landscape, orange landscape, green landscape



A few bumps on the way down, especially through the clouds and we were again on the ground. This time, we were in Boulia, a small town of 300 people, located 296km (184miles) south of Mt Isa. First recorded as a settlement in 1879, according to the inflight magazine, the town hosts the Boulia Desert Sands Camel Races, which is one of the more important events on the Australian camel racing circuit! The area is also known for its extensive beef cattle industry.

On the ground in Boulia for a quick view. Don’t even bother trying to drive a car around here. It’s all SUVs and 4WDs !



Just before reboarding, time for a quick snap



We’re checked out on the ground before the final hop up to Mt Isa. Ground time here was again a short 15mins, and 2 new passengers joined us here. Soft drinks and juice was offered to passengers whilst on the ground before the passenger door was closed. It was much cooler on the ground here compared to Bedourie, and the storms that were in the area had something to do with this - a couple of rain drops confirmed the storms were on the way.

Segment 8: Boulia (BQL) - Mt Isa (ISA)
Flight time: 40mins

Door closed, and safety briefing completed for the final time, we started our taxi out to the runway



Lift off and gear up



Passing near and through some dramatic storm action off to our right hand side.



Breaking through the bumps and leaving the storms behind. For now in any case.



I remained glued to the window to watch the show outside as a final drinks round was offered.



By the time we started our descent into ISA, the sun was slowly disappearing and the light started to fade. Mt Isa is the largest town in the region, and this was obvious when we got closer to the airport, and flew over the outer suburbs with rows of homes down below



Things look quite green down there too. I always imagined Mt Isa was surrounded by desert. Perhaps for some of the year it is - but not this year. Mt Isa had a lot of rainfall earlier in February, with the remnants of Cyclone Yasi dumping lots of water in the area.



A few bumps again just before getting to the runway and we were on the ground in Mt Isa. As we taxied to our stand on the far side of the airport, we passed the Qantas 737-800 which had arrived from Brisbane, and was getting ready to operate QF1079 back to Brisbane (with me on it!)



Pulling onto our stand



The trip was over. After all the other passengers had disembarked and a conversation with Lauren, I soon found myself sitting in the co-pilot’s seat chatting away with the captain, who was just completing some paperwork. It was a tight squeeze to get in and out of the seat! We had a nice chat about the flight, and why I came all the way to Mt Isa, only to be going back to Brisbane on a direct flight the same evening. Lauren offered to take a couple of photos for me, including with the cockpit crew, and then escorted me to the terminal building.

While walking toward the terminal, I turned around for one final look at VH-QQL in the fading early evening light, which had brought me safely to Mt Isa from Brisbane.



Wishing me all the best, Lauren returned to the aircraft. Thanks for a great trip. I will always remember it.

Final destination: Mt Isa



The terminal was quite busy inside as there would be a full flight on the B737-800 to Brisbane this evening. I was literally in ISA for about 30 mins, before boarding QF1079 for the 2 hr 30 min flight back to BNE. The fact that it was a 2+hr flight on a B737 back to Brisbane really brought home how far I’d come on the Dash 8 today.

The “boring” way of travelling between Brisbane and Mt Isa: boarding the Qantas 737-800 “Warnambool” back to Brisbane after a lightning stop in Mt Isa.



Farewell Mt Isa!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Just as it was 25 years ago, regional flying in Queensland continues to be an essential way of life. While the airlines may have changed, the aim is the same - to safely transport people and goods throughout the vast distances of this State, particularly when there is no other alternative means of transport. Flying with Skytrans was an absolute delight. For any avia geek, this was a flight that had to be done. If you’re planning a trip to Australia or live in Australia - it’s 8 hours of flying with some amazing views enroute. Don’t expect any fancy lounges or flat bed seats enroute - but that’s part of the charm. The airline provides an extremely high standard of customer service throughout which was incredibly personalised. You don’t often experience that in the air transport business these days. It was such a joy to experience flying without all the hassles that have come to be associated with air travel in Europe. It reminded me what flying used to be like.

After returning to the UK, I emailed the airline to tell them what a great flight I had and to single out the crew for the great onboard service I received. This is an airline that can and does make an effort to treat its passengers well. Within 24 hours, I had a response from Customer Services, thanking me for my message and an assurance that my feedback would be passed onto the crew. From start to finish, this airline made an impression. I wish Skytrans all the best.

Thanks for reading if you’ve managed to get this far. Comments are always welcome. Of course, all errors in this report are mine alone!

Other recent trip reports:

Snow-2-Sun: BA J To Tampa And Beyond (pics) (by Palmjet Dec 22 2010 in Trip Reports)

Keep Climbing & Don't Stop - 48hr DL Marathon (by Palmjet Dec 15 2010 in Trip Reports)

The Return: KL E190 TLS-AMS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 28 2010 in Trip Reports)

Almost AF ATR72: Skyteam Skip LHR-TLS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)

Iceland Yes, Volcano No, FI451 LHR-KEF (pics) (by Palmjet Oct 9 2010 in Trip Reports)

Finnair Longhaul Cont. Part II HKG-HEL-ARN (by Palmjet Sep 26 2010 in Trip Reports)

Finnair Longhaul To HK (w/pics) (by Palmjet Sep 25 2010 in Trip Reports)

Cayo Coco - Havana, Aero Caribbean W/pics (by Palmjet Jul 16 2010 in Trip Reports)



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineQuokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 18703 times:

Hi Palmjet,
Great trip report and very different to what we usually see. Great photos too and they certainly make it clear how much of Queensland was inundated.

Nice of Lauren to organise a visit to the cockpit for you, take photos and to make sure that QF were notified of your delayed arrival in ISA. That's one of the good things about some of the smaller, regional services. The crew are friendly and pretty relaxed. And look at the contrast between security at outback airports and the International ones. A totally different experience.

Thanks for bringing us a fantastic and unusual report.
Quokka.


User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5635 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18664 times:

Great report Palmjet! What an AMAZING amount of water for western QLD.

There aren't that many of these multi sector, all day flights left, particularly considering how common they once were. This flight is on my own "must do" list and it is great to have it confirmed that a new operator was found after Macair went out of business.

Thanks again

Gemuser



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User currently offlineJackbr From Australia, joined Dec 2009, 665 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18649 times:

Fantastic trip report! Reminds me of the old track trips TAA and Ansett used to fly with their F-27s

This route probably used to be operated by TAA DC-3s in the 60s!


User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 684 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18615 times:

Hi Palmjet,

what an interesting report, really enjoyed it very much. Definitely a route we don't read about here very often.

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):

The cost was not cheap – in the realm of A$300 one way, but as I was only in Australia for a short period, and this was such a unique route,

The price isn't too bad when you consider you got 8 legs for it (and with food and drink service on every leg). I would have done it as well, certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):
Windorah (population 60 people)

A town of this size with scheduled air service, this is something you only get in Australia. Imagine you could get the whole population 5 times into a 747   But then with the distances I guess it is a necessity.

Interesting pictures from the scenery in Queensland. Kind of frightening to see all the floodings there, we in Europe only heard about the problems in Brisbane and the other cities, but I had no idea that such a large area was affected. Puts things a little into perspective to see the power of Mother Nature like that.

Greetings
CaptainRed


User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 18514 times:

Hi all - thanks for your comments.

@Quokka - yes it was so nice to experience a flight where the crew and staff actually enjoyed their job. The smaller regional services certainly have that level of personalisation and friendliness that is unmatched (in my view). Glad you enjoyed the trip!

@Gemuser - if you get a chance, go for it! Agree that there are few of these types of services left these days, even in Australia. Having said that, take a look at Rex's website, as they do a multistop ISA - TSV flight with a Saab340 that stops 3 - 4 times enroute! This may also be one of the ex Macair routes. If I had known that flight was operating, I would have tried to incorporate that into my plans, and then flown back to BNE direct from TSV rather than ISA !

@Jackbr - I know the F27s used to operate to some of the routes out west, although I am not sure how far west they went. It was great to see a set of F27 airstairs still sitting on the ground in Charleville, in the faded blue and yellow camel hump scheme of TAA in the 1980s. Thanks for your comments.

@CaptainRed - hi there! When you break down the number of sectors, yes, I would agree that it was not actually that pricey. I wasn't sure what to expect onboard, but was pleasantly surprised that we were kept well fed and offered drinks on each sector. Also, yes, given the distances involved and how isolated some of these towns are, flying is the only way to go and sometimes that's because of mother nature. Queensland has never seen so much rain, certainly not in my lifetime. The irony is that only a couple of years ago, most of the State was suffering one of the worst droughts on record!



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineLazialeMKD From French Polynesia, joined Oct 2009, 150 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 18271 times:

Excellent report! I really enjoyed and I hope to do that route one day by myself.
Thanks for sharing


User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 18180 times:

LazialeMKD - glad you enjoyed the report. Thanks for your comments! Cheers P/jet


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinerichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4247 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 18135 times:

Wow - that's a serious trip report! If there were a Trip Report of the Year award, I'd be recommending this one for the coveted TROTY! Excellent! I love the photos and commentary, feels like I was right there with you!

That's a crazy long trip in a Dash8 but it must have been a very interesting day! I believe those seats are from this aircraft's US days, by the way. They look familiar to me! Funny to see them half-way around the world and imagine this was a US Express flight (which I know it is not, of course!)



None shall pass!!!!
User currently offlineKingFriday013 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1297 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 18060 times:

Absolutely loved this report. Fantastic job; sounds like you had a great trip. I fly these same Dash 8s pretty often up here in New York state, into and out of LGA. I've been on sister ship N824EX (which now flies with 7H), N912HA, N936HA, and N814EX. While I was never on the plane you were on, I've seen it plenty of times. It used to be ship EST.

One reason why I love these -100s so much: I was on ESS (N824EX), waiting at the end of RWY 4 at LGA to go to ROC. We had a pretty light load that morning, and it was just after 6:00 AM. The pilot firewalled the throttles and we were off the ground in less than four seconds. We used less than 1,000 feet of runway. THAT is why I love the Dash 8.

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):
I wonder in hindsight whether these were the same seats used when QQL was flying for US Airways Express?

They are. Piedmont Airlines, the main operator of these DH8As in the northeast, have almost identical interiors, except...

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):
Note how the back row is still configured in a 2-2 configuration. I’ve been on some Dash 8 -100s where the rear row is just a complete row of 5 seats. There were 28 seats in total on VH-QQL.

Piedmont has the row of 5 seats in the back. Also, they have a total of 37 seats (8 rows of 4 + a 5-seater 9th row)

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):
Note also “retro” NS sign.

What the hell are those things that say "AUTOMATED SCREENS - DO NOT PULL"??

-J.

[Edited 2011-04-03 11:56:33]


Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5162 posts, RR: 55
Reply 12, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 18008 times:

Hi, PJ,

congrats. Superb pictures that made me feel like staying in Australia myself and what an interesting story about outback life these days.

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):
Being the avia freak that I am, the fact that the service touches down 7 times between Brisbane to Mt Isa made me think: “Why not go all the way to Mt Isa?” “Am I completely crazy?” I think you know the answers already.

Count me in, no question!.
That´s definitely the way to spend a day in the air.

Greetings,
Markus(FLIEGER67)



Next: The eastern Intersky!.
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 17960 times:

Hello Palmjet,

thanks for sharing with us your TR! Indeed, it wasn't about posh airlines and champers drinking while seating on a Poltrona Frau 40-inches-wide F-class seat, but it definitely was one of my favourites. Flying is about passion, and your TR testify that. I loved the photographs, all of them, for their quality, brightness and for the incredible scenery that is Australia's outback.

The flood images were impressive, and deeply touching. I was a young boy in 1994, when one of the heaviest floods in recent historty hit my region, Piedmont, and I can remember how high the floodwaters were, and the Marina helicopters evacuing people and kettle from the worst affected areas: I can image how hard it must have been for the Australians during this year's events.

Anyway, ever since I read Bryson's "Down Under" I marveled at the idea of boarding the Indian Pacific train to see what the Outback looked like: now, after reading your TR, I changed my mind: Skytrans would do just fine and, of course, it's done by air!

Cheers,
JL418


User currently offlineAlwaysOnAPlane From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2010, 305 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 17913 times:

Hi PJ.

Let me start by saying WOW. I was totally glued to this report mate. What an amazing experience for you.

Such a pleasure to read about these small (but no less important) airlines. The service looks absolutely brilliant in terms of both staff enthusiasm and catering.

Some of these terminals/sheds   are just so far away from what most of us experience, it makes for a nice change to see this way of traveling.

The scale of the flooding there is just beyond comprehension. Although a very sad event for that part of the world it was interesting to see the aftermath from your aerial perspective.

You really captured the essence of this trip well and the photography is of a really high standard.

This is well up with the best reports iv'e read on this site. Very well done Sir.

Cheers, Lee.


User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 15, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 17816 times:

Thanks all for your latest comments. Am very glad you enjoyed the report.

@richierich

Quote:
I believe those seats are from this aircraft's US days, by the way. They look familiar to me! Funny to see them half-way around the world and imagine this was a US Express flight (which I know it is not, of course!)

Yes, seems to have been confirmed by other posts as well. It all made sense after I looked up the aircraft's history when I got home. Agree that it's hard to believe that this same aircraft was once flying into places like LGA, BUF, and now it regularly visits places like ULP, WNR and BVI ! Quite a testimony to the rugged design and flexibility of the Dash 8 to operate in all kinds of enivronments.

Thank you for your TROTY vote!

@KingFriday013

Quote:
Piedmont has the row of 5 seats in the back. Also, they have a total of 37 seats (8 rows of 4 + a 5-seater 9th row)

Hi there. Yes - this is the only other config I had seen before as well. From Skytrans inflight magazine, they seem to have 3 different configurations for their Dash 8s, and QQL was config for 28 seats, instead of 36, as it has more cargo space. We certainly needed it ! Thanks for your comments

Quote:
What the hell are those things that say "AUTOMATED SCREENS - DO NOT PULL"??

Those are small fold down screens - which I believe Skytrans installed for some of their longer sectors. I know it's hard to believe but the Dash 8 has IFE!

@Markus - guten tag. Very nice to hear from you! Thanks for reading the report and glad you enjoyed the trip to ISA! Hope to see a new report from you very soon?

@JL418

Quote:
Anyway, ever since I read Bryson's "Down Under" I marveled at the idea of boarding the Indian Pacific train to see what the Outback looked like: now, after reading your TR, I changed my mind: Skytrans would do just fine and, of course, it's done by air

Hi there. Thanks for your kind words - the flooding there was the worst in a very long time. People are still recovering. I've also wanted to do that train trip as well - but if you don't have a lot of time in Australia, then yes, I can certainly recommend Skytrans for the experience. You won't regret it.

@Lee

Quote:
Some of these terminals/sheds are just so far away from what most of us experience, it makes for a nice change to see this way of traveling.

The scale of the flooding there is just beyond comprehension. Although a very sad event for that part of the world it was interesting to see the aftermath from your aerial perspective

Hi Lee - great to hear from you. Thanks for your post. I hope your next trip is coming up. You know much I enjoy your reports (and pics) ! Glad you enjoyed the report - and yes, some of the terminals were no bigger than sheds! The contrast in terms of security and general attitude of the staff (compared to here in Europe) was amazing. It was such a breath of fresh air.

The flooding was indeed terrible. It made such an amazing view from the air though, and reminded me just how destructive mother nature can be. Cheers P/jet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineokapi From France, joined Jun 2006, 211 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 17782 times:

Hello Mr PalmJet! Probably the most interesting trip report I've read in weeks around here.
Back to aviation more than pure airline flying tales, you made it delivering what you promised on the headlines.
Congratulations for keeping me (us) entertained with a classy mix of stunning pictures by the way and well-detailed adventures on board that lovely aircraft. Yes, you do deserve a 5 stars stamp on this one!
Gotta love this very personal service.


Thanks for sharing.

Guillaume / okapi


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1930 posts, RR: 24
Reply 17, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 17727 times:
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Great report, palmjet! Looks like you had some good flights on the good ol' Dash 8. Beautiful photos from the window! What amazing looking landscape.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlineBAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 17708 times:

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):

This is not a trip report about a longhaul flight in a premium cabin from Europe to North or South America or Asia with flatbed seats and IFE with 500 movies to choose from. It’s also not about what food or type of champagne was served onboard and whether the flight attendants addressed me as “Sir”, or took my coat when boarding. It does not cover glitzy airport lounges and their interiors, experiences with connecting flights through major hubs or transcontinental mileage runs for fun.

YAY!!!!   

Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter):

2239 miles of flying in a Dash 8-100!

You're a better man than I Gunga Din!! A few years ago I flew a Dash 8-100 across Newfoundland and back, an hour each way...that was enough for me!

Wow, what a fantastic report with some amazing photos. I almost felt like I was sat next to you in 3C all the way!!

A thoroughly great read, thanks for taking the time to write it, although I am sensing that it may have been a labour of love!

Cheers.

Andy.



Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3243 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 17684 times:

Thats a looong time to spend in a very small aircraft. Looks like you passed the time ok though, espcially with the good service. I can;t believe how widespread the flooding was. I though most of Oz was just desert where it never rains, and that the floods were localised near the coast. Amazing pictures.


http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:STN-SNN-STN,MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-
User currently offlineCamohe From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 48 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 17624 times:

Perhaps the finest trip report I have ever had the pleasure of reading... 10/10! Fantastic photography.

The Dash 8-100 holds very fond memories for me as I flew them regularly (Eastern Australia Airlines) for 4 years from ARM-SYD when I was at uni there in the late 80s/early 90s. Interesting how dated the cabin looks now, and yet back then I was amazed how modern they were compared with the old East-West F27s they replaced with their curtained windows and open overhead racks!


User currently offlineSenliture From Australia, joined May 2000, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 17550 times:

Brilliant photos and trip report. Loved every part of it. It certainly brings back all the memories of outback flying...

User currently offlineAflyingkiwi From New Zealand, joined Nov 2010, 514 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 17373 times:

Fantastic & very unique report Palmjet. It sounded like you had a very nice flight(s) on the Dash 8, also am very impressed by the service you got on Skytrans and having a fantastic crew always makes your flights a little bit more special (as if it's not special enough).

The landscape of the Queensland hinterland is simply amazing and it's also interesting how much of the land got flooded, didn't know it was that bad.

Thanks for putting this report and looking forward to reading more from you.

Regards,
aflyingkiwi


User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5635 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 17350 times:

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 19):
I can;t believe how widespread the flooding was. I though most of Oz was just desert where it never rains, and that the floods were localised near the coast

Palmjet was flying over the "Channel Country" which is called that because in the flat landscape there are many many channels carved by water, rather than them meeting up to form rivers. On average these channels carry water end to end from Western Queensland into Lake Eyre once every 20 years or so, so its dry 95% of the time.
This will be the third year in a row that water has reached Lake Eyre, which is a dry salt lake, about 15 m below sea level. There is some concern in South Australia that given the volume of water from Queensland Lake Eyre will probably fill and may possibly over flow, for the first time in recorded history! If it does significient volums of water may actually flow into Lake Torrens for the first time in a geological epoch! If it happens THAT will be something to see!

Gemuser



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User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1223 posts, RR: 17
Reply 24, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 17303 times:

Good morning

Okapi-

Quote:
Hello Mr PalmJet! Probably the most interesting trip report I've read in weeks around here.
Back to aviation more than pure airline flying tales, you made it delivering what you promised on the headlines.
Congratulations for keeping me (us) entertained with a classy mix of stunning pictures by the way and well-detailed adventures on board that lovely aircraft. Yes, you do deserve a 5 stars stamp on this one!
Gotta love this very personal service.

Thank for your kind words - pleased that you enjoyed the ride to ISA !

Matthew - hello, how's things? Thanks for your comments. Are you flying anywhere soon?


Andy

Quote:
You're a better man than I Gunga Din!! A few years ago I flew a Dash 8-100 across Newfoundland and back, an hour each way...that was enough for me!

Wow, what a fantastic report with some amazing photos. I almost felt like I was sat next to you in 3C all the way!!

A thoroughly great read, thanks for taking the time to write it, although I am sensing that it may have been a labour of love!

Oh yes indeed. It was a labour of love. I wish I had now done the Rex flight to Townsville from Mt Isa, as it stops numerous times as well ! Still, I managed to do an intrastate flight from Sydney to Ballina/Bryon Bay with Rex and will post a report from that trip as well.


Gabrielchew

Quote:
I can;t believe how widespread the flooding was. I though most of Oz was just desert where it never rains, and that the floods were localised near the coast. Amazing pictures.

Why thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I really liked your recent trip report to Tenerife. Are you planning any trips back there? Yes, the flooding was widespread in Queensland, although the most damaging aspects of it were where there are larger concentrations of population - in the South East Corner of QLD.

Camohe

Quote:
The Dash 8-100 holds very fond memories for me as I flew them regularly (Eastern Australia Airlines) for 4 years from ARM-SYD when I was at uni there in the late 80s/early 90s. Interesting how dated the cabin looks now, and yet back then I was amazed how modern they were compared with the old East-West F27s they replaced with their curtained windows and open overhead racks!

There seem to only be a handful of -100s around now in Australia (at least with Qantaslink). I did see one -100/200 in new updated Qantaslink colours in Sydney which looked quite smart. Yes, the -100 cabin screams "made in the early 90s" but it was still quite comfortable overall. My first flight ever was with East West back in 1986 to SYD from BNE on a F27, and it was magic. I've always thought the Dash 8 was a "re-incarnated" F-27! Thanks for your comments.

Senliture

Quote:
Brilliant photos and trip report. Loved every part of it. It certainly brings back all the memories of outback flying...

Very pleased you enjoyed it Senliture - I can highly recommend it!

Aflyingkiwi

Quote:
Fantastic & very unique report Palmjet. It sounded like you had a very nice flight(s) on the Dash 8, also am very impressed by the service you got on Skytrans and having a fantastic crew always makes your flights a little bit more special (as if it's not special enough).

The landscape of the Queensland hinterland is simply amazing and it's also interesting how much of the land got flooded, didn't know it was that bad.

Thanks for putting this report and looking forward to reading more from you.

Hi there. Thank you for reading. The service onboard was so nice. I don't think I've had a flight like that in years, if at all. I was also amazed by how beautiful, yet stark, the interior of QLD is. I just kick myself now that I never made more of an effort to explore it when I was living there.

Gemuser

Quote:
This will be the third year in a row that water has reached Lake Eyre, which is a dry salt lake, about 15 m below sea level. There is some concern in South Australia that given the volume of water from Queensland Lake Eyre will probably fill and may possibly over flow, for the first time in recorded history! If it does significient volums of water may actually flow into Lake Torrens for the first time in a geological epoch! If it happens THAT will be something to see!

Let me know if this happens - I will be looking for multistop flights !!!! Even the locals on my flight were amazed at how much water there was. They've not seen anything like it. Between Windorah and Birdsville, one lady actually asked the flight attendant to be moved to 1D so she could take pictures on arrival - which of course was not only possible, but encouraged - "go for it - take as many pictures as you want" was the reply!!



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
25 wn700driver : Indeed they were, at least when I worked on that plane in 2008. By then, 'Airways had merged Piedmont & Allegheny into one airline, using the Pie
26 BNE : Wow, great trip report, I am just annoyed that I hadn't found it previously. Some very good photos, and surprising how wet it is out in Western Queens
27 Palmjet : @BNE - All I can say to that is YES, I think you should. I also thought, in an indirect way, it was a great way of showing support for the people in t
28 wn700driver : Well lots of the northeast of course, but also the South, all over Florida, some of the midwest, and as far west as PHX when some of our birds were on
29 Palmjet : wn700driver - thanks very much for that. QQL really got around then and still doing the same many years later on a different continent! Cheers P/jet
30 ZuluAlpha : I think I will be adding this to my 'bucket list' of aviation must do's But next one for me, I hope will be on the QF7 SYD / DFW on 25 May I also won
31 Palmjet : ZuluAlpha Skytrans will love you! Let's hope so. They don't seem to mind us a.nuts at all.
32 jmy007 : Palmjet, Thank you so much for this report. It made me nostalgic for my time in Queensland, having spent a year in Toowoomba. I never had the pleasure
33 Palmjet : jmy007 - very glad you enjoyed the report. Why were you in Toowoomba? Did you have a good time? I do recall there being a period where there was no ai
34 RJLover : As a very frequent passenger on the Dash-8 (-100 + -300), this is a fanastic trip report! I could almost feel the vibration of the props as they enter
35 Post contains images Kent350787 : 1 hr 30m on a J32 - not exactly to my liking.... Thanks for the report though - amazing to see the wet channel country. People don't realise the shee
36 ryan h : Well done, it is these sort of reports that interest me. I have done some turboprop flights in South Australia, but nothing like that. My longest one
37 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi PJ, That's an amazing report, thank you so much for taking time to write it and provide us with so many gorgeous photos. The State of Queensland lo
38 Palmjet : Good morning RJLover - thanks for your comments. Pleased you enjoyed the report as a frequent Dash 8 customer! Kent350787 - yes not sure about that J3
39 Post contains links ZuluAlpha : I had a look at their website www.skytrans.com.au It is a twice a week service in each direction. BNE ISA on Mondays and Thursdays, the return ISA BN
40 Palmjet : FlyingFinn76 - You've now got me thinking......! I had a few questions about the Norwegian Wideroe flights which you might be able to help me with - w
41 jmy007 : I was an exchange student at USQ for the year. I had a wonderful time in Toowoomba, South East Queensland, and Australia. I try to go back as often,
42 Post contains images PlaneHunter : Hi Palmjet, what a great (and unusual!) report full of amazing pictures! Thanks for taking the time to post this, enjoyed reading a lot. The Australia
43 Palmjet : Great stuff! Glad you had a nice time at USQ and in Queensland. Ha ha, yes I remember the McCaffreys buses as well. Eastland were around for a while
44 ditzyboy : Firstly, thanks for a GREAT report! I have been wanting to do this flight for a while. Skytrans sounds like a professional operation. QantasLink/Sunst
45 Palmjet : ditzyboy Thanks v much for your comments. Yes, my apologies - I should have said that Skytrans don't have any buses but certainly other airlines, such
46 ditzyboy : Eastland defected to Ansett sometime after the collapse of Sabair. I remember flying on a DK Twin Otter out of the AN terminal.
47 parton87 : Hello Palmjet! A really good story with a airline that I never heard of. The scenery is beautiful and your pictures are top quality! I hope I will vis
48 Palmjet : Ditzyboy- Thanks yes I just checked and had a photo of the twotter in front of the ansett concourse. Must have been circa October 2000. Robert. Hi. Gl
49 Post contains images allrite : Hi Palmjet, Just back from my latest air jaunt with the toddler (report underway) and what a trip report to be presented with first up! Simply awesome
50 Palmjet : Hi Allrite. Thanks for your post. You've been quiet of late? Glad to see there is another report from you coming up! Re security at BNE, I did not see
51 CrimsonNL : Hi Palmjet, thanks for this amazing report! Very unique set of flights! Best regards, Martijn
52 Palmjet : CrimsonNL - thanks very much for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the report. Cheers P/jet
53 VSMike : Umm. Yeah. Wow! Excellent report. A lil' too much DashTrash for me. Maybe SkyTrans will one day upgrade their reservations provider AND their aircraft
54 Palmjet : VSMike - I know how much you love Dash 8s, esp if they are US Airways Express colours! I had no trouble booking online at all, and I did not even know
55 jrfspa320 : Very interesting, Thanks. Good to see the "Airports" of the bush. Love the relaxed style of flying. I thought the Dash 8 100/200 held 37 people? Only
56 Palmjet : jrfspa320 - thanks for your comments. Yes, these are airports with a distinct atmosphere all of their own. Flying in this part of the country is very
57 NZ107 : Hi Palmjet, Fantastic TR! This milk run is of interest to me.. I'd love to take in what Inner Queensland has to offer for myself one day. Amazing pict
58 Palmjet : Nicholas Thanks for your comments on this report. I had a lot of fun doing that flight. Yep they certainly are becoming rare in Australia. In SYD, I s
59 robso2 : Super, super and again super report. As you said, great to see that these inner, isolated regions of the outback are served and I felt quite sad seein
60 Palmjet : robso2 - really glad you enjoyed the report - thanks for your post. This region is surprisingly well served, particularly as others have reminded me t
61 Post contains images HorizonGirl : Wonderful trip report! As the classic Dash 8s are my all time favorite aircraft, I enjoyed every second. And what beautiful scenery! I am certainly pu
62 NZ107 : Nice, looking forward to a TR from either/both of you on that one if it goes through! It's a nice touch. Although BOB might work in some cases, I can
63 Palmjet : Hi Nicholas - I've now booked my Wideroe flights so yes, will def do a report on those flights. Agreed, BOB would just not work for this flight. The p
64 Post contains images noelg : Hi Palmjet This is the third time I have read this trip report and it gets better and better each time! What an amazing route to fly on a DHC-8, throu
65 Palmjet : Horizongirl - thanks so much for your comments. If you like dash 8s this is a trip to do!! Noelg - hi there. Thank you very much for your nice comment
66 IwantaBBJ : Very well done, thanks a lot for this report.... All the best Mike Steffen
67 wn700driver : Lol, I flew three of them on eight segments last week. Seems like I can't get away from those things. At least they're not terrible like the CR1,2,6s
68 Palmjet : IwantaBBJ - thanks very much for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the report. wn700driver - I totally agree with you. Give me a Dash 8 over a CRJ-200 a
69 airkas1 : Great report, I loved your photos, the story, the though of doing that trip.. Makes me want to complete such a thing aswell!
70 Palmjet : airkas1 - thanks for your comments and hope you get down to Australia to do that flight one day. Good luck! Cheers P/jet
71 Gonzalo : Amazing, truly amazing, I felt envy and also VERY nostalgic as my first flights as a little child inside Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, were ma
72 Palmjet : Hi Gonzalo Thanks very much for your comments. My first flights were also on small aircraft - the F27 springs to mind! Glad you enjoyed the report. Th
73 TR763 : This is definitely the best trip report I ever read! What a wonderful schedule you've got, to some very unique destinations! Wow, I'm still impressed
74 Palmjet : Hello TR763 Thank you! Very pleased that you enjoyed the report and that it provided a little snapshot into aviation activity on the other side of the
75 Post contains images akhmad : Hi P/jet, Finally I get around to reading this report of yours. It was a long but marvelous journey. Simply brilliant! What a great tribute to your ch
76 Post contains images MSS658 : Nice report, like the scenery pics.
77 Palmjet : Hi Suryo Thank you for so many comments. Glad you managed to get through to the end! Not at all. It is great to hear from you. I hope you manage to ge
78 akhmad : Herman and I flew with their Fokker 100 from Perth to Broome v.v. in 2004. It was a great flight with most hospitable crew members we ever encountere
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