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KruegerFlaps
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Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:17 am

A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:12 am

A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

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Christmas came and went and it was time to return to Perth. Ravensthorpe airport lies about 30km out of town and there is no public transport or taxi service. My sister and brother-in-law kindly drove me there, or it would have been a long walk.

The terminal will not win any awards for inventive architectural designs but it is functional. In fact, it's a big, green Colorbond shed. There is a covered waiting room outside, around the side of which is the baggage collection point. No carousel, just pick up your bags from the trolley. Toilets are located in a separate block.

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Inside there is a small check-in area for the twice-weekly flights with Skippers and a once-weekly charter, operated by Virgin Australia. The latter is to ferry fly-in fly-out workers to a local mine site.

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Steve greeted me and said, "You came down on the Dash, didn't you?"
"Yes. I was a bit surprised as I was expecting a Metro," I replied.
"Ah, well," he continued. "You'll be going back on the Brasilia."

Meanwhile my bag was weighed and a boarding pass issued. Together with my sister and brother-in-law, I was invited to go through to the airport "lounge". Despite all the signage, the security equipment is no longer used as it is no longer required: charter flights are exempt and Skippers aircraft are below the passenger number limit for screening to be needed.

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The lounge itself is reminiscent of the waiting room in an old-style public hospital. Not a duty-free item in sight, let alone a book shop selling "Greatest Aviation Disasters".

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Before going through to departures, I went back outside to see if I could get photos of the incoming aeroplane. Landing into the wind, the Brasilia approached from the east, ran to the end of the runway and turned about. There weren't many passengers arriving and there would only be ten going back to Perth.

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Boarding was announced and as I went through departures, Steve said, "Perhaps you'll get the Metro next time you're down."

Yes, perhaps. See you."


Flight Details:
Skippers Aviation HK1937
Ravensthorpe to Perth
Aircraft ID: VH-XUD Seat: 8A
Type: Embraer 120 Brasilia
STD: 08:45 ATD: 08:30
STA: 10:00 ATA: 09:47

VH-XUD started life as PT-SPG and served with TACV aa D4-CAZ from the 19<span class="ordinal">th</span> of December, 1989. The new year of 1994 saw it join Flight West Airlines, an airline based in Brisbane that collapsed and eventually resurrected as Alliance Airlines. Alliance continued to operate it with the registration VH-XFZ but at the beginning of 2003, when they sold it to Skippers Aviation, the aircraft was reregistered as VH-XUD.

The captain was Simon, assisted by Owen, while in the cabin was Emily looking after the passengers. A fourth person was present but I wasn't sure whether she was a trainee or conducting an assessment.

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The passengers were seated mainly towards the rear of the aircraft. One young man somehow managed to lose his boarding pass and Emily needed to check where he should be sitting. It turned out to be in the exit row so she explained how to open the exit and asked whether he would be willing to assist in the event of an evacuation.

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Then she performed the safety demonstration, before walking through the cabin to make sure everything was stowed and seat-belts were securely fastened.

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The engines started up and the Brasilia taxied out to the runway. Ravensthorpe has two runways, the main one sealed and the cross-wise runway (seldom, if ever used) is gravel. Dark clouds looked quite threatening as the aircraft turned and faced into the wind.

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I always enjoy hearing the change in the sound of the engines and the feeling of the seat in my back as the aircraft picks up speed. Before long, I could feel the aircraft begin to lift as it left the runway.

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VH-XUD was quickly off the ground and turned in a spiral circuit to take advantage of a break in the heavy clouds. This provided an opportunity to see the tidy farmsteads and fields where the harvest had been completed.

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Passing over the airport, we soon emerged through the clouds into the clear sky. Had it been a fine day below, I would have been on the right side of the aircraft for wonderful views over Hopetoun, the Barrens Ranges and the bays and inlets along the coast.

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Once the seat-belt sign was off, Emily came through the cabin, first offering that morning's West Australian, then offering cushions. Shortly after, she came through once more, this time taking orders for refreshments. Available were tea, coffee, juice and water served with a packet of biscuits.

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The first half of the flight saw us remain over a solid blanket of cloud. Gradually the cloud broke but conditions below stayed hazy. We passed over farming country, punctuated by occasional grain bins and salt lakes.

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The communication bell advertised the commencement of descent. Emily offered mints to the passengers and collected any rubbish and empty cups or newspapers that people didn't want.

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As the aircraft reduced altitude, the trees appeared to get bigger. Acacia Prison came into view.

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The Brasilia darted in and out of passing clouds. Once more we passed Lake Leschenaultia but this time to the north. The seat-belt sign illuminated and Emily did the "tables stowed, seats upright" thing.

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Our flight path took us over John Forrest National Park and Greenmount, with Great Eastern Highway (linking Perth with Kalgoorlie) snaking its way down the hill.

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Passing the junction of Great Eastern Highway Bypass and Roe Highway, the Brasilia lined up for approach, flying over Kalamunda Road and the airport perimeter.

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The aircraft landed on runway 24, passing the International Terminal and Terminal 1 Domestic, before turning off to taxi in front of the Qantas terminals.

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A Boeing 737-838, VH-XZJ Mendooworrji, in special livery was present. The livery was inspired by Western Australian Aboriginal artist, Paddy Bedford, a founder of the Warmun art movement. Using 140 nylon stencils, the design took over 950 man hours to complete and used 500 litres of paint, weighing 125kg.

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Also present, VH-EBB Albany, an Airbus A330-202 that for a while flew with Jetstar. Now back in Qantas colours, its flying kangaroo has so far eluded the recent design change and is happy to retain its forepaws and face.

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As the journey came to an end, in front of the Valentine Road terminal I could see several aircraft in the Skippers fleet, including some Dash-8s and the elusive Metro 23.

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Emily was at the door and Owen was on the ground at the foot of the aircraft steps as I deplaned and walked to the terminal. It had been a pleasant enough flight. The cabin interior was a bit grubbier than that of the Dash used on the outbound flight, reflecting years of use on runs to remote mining communities.

After Virgin Australia cancelled its RPT flights to Ravensthorpe, it looked as if the Shire would be without air transport. It will be interesting to see if Skippers entry will gather sufficient support to make their offering viable in the long run. I hope so. I still have that Metro to catch.

Previous Trip Reports:

Getting into the Spirit: Qantas A332 Perth to Sydney

Your Personal Airline: AirLink Beech 1900D to Dubbo

Our Heart is in the Country: Regional Express Saab 340B

Motorcycles Galore: QantasLink Dash-8 300Q to Tamworth

Djawannasnack: Virgin Australia ATR 72 to Sydney

Now You're Flying: Virgin Australia A332 Sydney to Perth

A Surprise Dash: Skippers Aviation to Ravensthorpe
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt Speech, 1783
 
sumantra
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:12 am

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:02 am

A flight from a not-so-oft-described airport, on a not-so-oft-described airline, in a lovely descriptive style, with witty comments, and lovely photographs. What more could a reader want? Thanks for sharing a lovely report with us, KruegerFlaps!
Cheers, Sumantra.
 
jrfspa320
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:40 pm

Thanks for these series of reports! Very enjoyable reading
Nice to see perth - my local airport. I have never flown skippers to interesting to see! Sadly from a business perspective the schedules into smaller towns often means its easier to fly into esperance or kalgoorlie etc and drive rather than time work around weekly schedules
 
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Ryan h
Posts: 1701
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2001 7:11 pm

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:48 am

Another interesting report and great photos.

That's another aircraft type I haven't flown on yet either.

Ravensthorpe reminds me of the outback airports in Queensland.
South Australian Spotter
 
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KruegerFlaps
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Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:17 am

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:34 am

sumantra wrote:
What more could a reader want? Thanks for sharing a lovely report with us,


Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

jrfspa320 wrote:
Sadly from a business perspective the schedules into smaller towns


Yes, with the small populations it is difficult to maintain a more frequent service. Some of Skippers flights are only Monday, Wednesday, Friday and one flight only which means you can't pop there and back in a day. Makes it awkward for the airline as there isn't much local demand in the towns served and business demand can''t be catered for because it too is low. They're in between a rock and a hard place.

Ryan h wrote:
That's another aircraft type I haven't flown on yet either.


Hi Ryan. Glad you liked the report. If you want to fly the Brasilia, are you able to fly up to Alice and then take the multi-stop with Airnorth to Darwin (or vice versa)? The flight calls in at Kathleen and Tennant Creek along the way.
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt Speech, 1783
 
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Ryan h
Posts: 1701
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2001 7:11 pm

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:34 am

KruegerFlaps wrote:
Hi Ryan. Glad you liked the report. If you want to fly the Brasilia, are you able to fly up to Alice and then take the multi-stop with Airnorth to Darwin (or vice versa)? The flight calls in at Kathleen and Tennant Creek along the way.


Yes I am aware of that flight. Something to look at in the future.
South Australian Spotter
 
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capicua
Posts: 207
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:32 pm

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Sun Jan 08, 2017 2:40 pm

Nice conclusion to your holiday trip, KruegerFlaps.

Ravensthorpe airport looks really utilitarian. But getting just twice-a-week service probably doesn't justify a fancy terminal.

You mention that the airport is 30 km out of town. Seeing that the terrain is relatively flat, it could have been built closer, no? Even 10 km out noise shouldn't be an issue.

Cheers
C.
"The greatest sight to see is the world - look at it!" (Kurt Tucholsky),
and getting there is half the fun!
 
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CollegeAviator
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 am

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:49 am

Oh no, sucks that you did not get to go onboard the Metroliner... But a great report nonetheless!

What a cute little terminal at Ravensthorpe! :D

CollegeAviator
 
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KruegerFlaps
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Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:17 am

Re: A Brasilia to Perth: Skippers Aviation Embraer 120

Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:14 am

capicua wrote:
Nice conclusion to your holiday trip, KruegerFlaps.

Hi Capicua and thanks for your comments.

capicua wrote:
Seeing that the terrain is relatively flat, it could have been built closer, no? Even 10 km out noise shouldn't be an issue.


The photos are deceptive. The area immediately around the town of Ravensthorpe is formed by the range after which the town is named. The town itself is built on the side of a hill and the country to the south is dissected by steep-sided creeks and gullies, while the north and east is quite hilly. But there were other considerations in choosing the location.

The prime purpose was to serve the Nickel Mine to the east of town; be reasonably close to Hopetoun on the coast, where most of the mine workers and their families would live; and avoid impacting on the environmental value of the area. Noise wasn't so much an issue as the endemic flora of the region, much of which is locked up in National Parks and Conservation Reserves.

CollegeAviator wrote:
Oh no, sucks that you did not get to go onboard the Metroliner...

Yes, but it gives me the excuse to fly again later. :wink2:
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt Speech, 1783

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