Djawannasnack: Virgin Australia ATR 72 to Sydney
It was time to return to the airport so I drove back and dropped off the keys to the car. Tamworth Airport is located about 10 km from town and is owned and operated by Tamworth Regional Council. Tenants include BAE Systems, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and a number of flying schools. During my visit the Christmas decorations were up and there was a reminder that Tamworth hosts an annual music festival.
Airlines serving Tamworth include QantasLink (op by Eastern Australia Airlines) to Sydney; JetGo Australia to Brisbane; Fly Corporate also to Sydney; and Virgin Australia to Sydney.
One of several daily QantasLink flights had arrived from Sydney and was disgorging its passengers. It wasn't long before the Bombardier 400Q was reloaded and taxiing away for take-off.
While waiting for the arrival of my flight I managed to see a few light aircraft movements. With a US registration N465DG an Eclipse EA500 very light jet. It is powered by two fuselage mounted Pratt and Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines, each with 900 lbs of thrust.
I made my way through security to the spacious departure lounge. There were none of the shops or restaurants that seem to make up airports these days, just a couple of snack and drinks dispensers and seating.
A truck moved back and forth towing a mat, while there were a number of movements by light aircraft, including VH-TAZ, a Cessna 441 Conquest registered operator Edwards Coaches Pty Limited of Armidale, NSW.
Another QantasLink Dash arrived and VH-CMU, a Beech 76 registered to Professional Pilot Training, Coffs Harbour NSW passed on its way to the runway.
In the distance lay the remains of what looks like an old Fokker Friendship but I couldn't clearly make it out.
An announcement was made that the arrival of Virgin Australia would be delayed by about ten minutes and it eventually VH-FVR could be seen approaching 30R.
This aircraft was previously with Western Australian airline Skywest, though it didn't fly in WA. It operated routes in the eastern states on behalf of Virgin Australia Regional until Skywest was taken over completely by Virgin Australia. It was out of commission for a while as a result of a bird strike but is back flying and appeared to be in immaculate condition.
A flurry of activity on the apron as chocks and cones were put in place; the fresh crew walked to the aircraft; a visual inspection was made; passengers deplaned (including one wheel-chair assisted by hoist); and baggage handlers unloaded one lot of bags and loaded a fresh set.
Boarding was called through Gate 2 and I walked to the rear of the aircraft and up the steps.
Virgin Australia VA1092
Tamworth to Sydney
Aircraft ID: VH-FVR Yallingup Beach
Type: ATR 72-600 Seat: 07F
STD: 15:30 ATD: 15:50
STA: 16:35 ATA: 16:47
The cabin interior appeared bright, clean and tidy. The seat proved to be reasonably comfortable with sufficient leg room.
The usual announcements were made from the flight deck, together with an introduction from the CSM. A manual safety demonstration was carried out, with a reminder to read the safety card and observe the seat-belt signs.
While the crew made their final preparations for departure I had a quick look out of the window and checked out the in-flight magazine.Yallingup Beach
began moving, making its way to the threshold of 30R, passing the Qantas maintenance hangars and turning into the wind, lining up for take-off.
It moved forward, picking up speed before lifting into the air.
The town disappeared from view and we passed over farming country with small streams and views towards the hills. In the distance, the smoke of a bush fire could be seen. The sky became unclear, a mixture of heat haze, smoke and low clouds.
Shortly after take-off an announcement that a cabin service would be offered, including a light snack and a choice of tea, coffee, fruit juice or water. Passengers were advised that additional items could be purchased. A few moments later, an apology that tea and coffee would not be available.
K approached and asked, "Djawannasnack?" in a curt fashion, followed by an equally brusque, "Joosawarda?"
I accepted the offered packet containing two cheap biscuits and small tub of orange juice.
The flight was smooth with just the occasional movement caused by updraughts from the mountain range below. Visibility was not that great but I could make out a number of water catchments, and mine sites.
The seat-belt sign came on and passengers were told that descent was commencing. Tables should be stowed; large electronic devices should be placed in the overhead locker. As the aircraft descended through the cloud, Sydney's western suburbs came into view.
The flight passed over leafy areas with waterside residences. Many boats were moored upon the sheltered waters.
The approach was from the west so that no lengthy flight over water was required. But it did mean having to taxi all the way back to reach the terminal.
Soon we were passing the terminals with first Qantas, then Virgin Australia and Rex tails coming into view.
At remote stands I could just make out 10015 and what appeared to be a visitor from Japanese airline, ANA.
Then we were on the runway, decelerating before turning about to follow the path to Terminal 2. The usual "Welcome to Sydney" announcement was made and the hope was expressed that we had a pleasant flight.
As Yallingup Beach
taxied to its stand, it passed the USAF Boeing that Barnaby had kindly pointed out to me on the outbound flight that morning.
Virgin Australia surprised me by having a clean aircraft. My previous experiences with them had lead me to conclude that this isn't something they worry too much about. In contrast, my previous flights had been with friendly and pleasant crew but on today's flight the cabin crew appeared to be having a bad hair day, exhibited by shortness in interaction with passengers.
Otherwise, I had enjoyed my trip to Tamworth and I enjoyed this flight in the ATR 72-600. Next up is the return to Perth, also with Virgin Australia but on an Airbus A330-200.
Previous Trip Reports:Getting into the Spirit: Qantas A332 Perth to SydneyYour Personal Airline: AirLink Beech 1900D to DubboOur Heart is in the Country: Regional Express Saab 340BMotorcycles Galore: QantasLink Dash-8 300Q to Tamworth