Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday Drive

On Sunday I got to go for a drive. We went down to the force museum at the Point Cook RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) base for an aerobatic display put on by the Roulettes. The Roulettes are the RAAF's aerobatic display team who were in Melbourne for the previous days AFL grand final.

After attempting to drive through the security checkpoint without stopping (well it looked like the guard let the car in front through without stopping!) we managed to get security clearance and drive on to the base. The museum obviously does not normally expect this many visitors at the one time, so we had to park quite a way up a side street opposite the sergeants mess.

By the time we got to the viewing area the display had already begun, with one of the team members not flying in the display taking the small crowd through the pre-flight preparation. The most exciting part of this was the engine start up of the six Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. One by one the engines began to whine as the turboprop engines spooled up. The real noise began as each of the props reached operating speed a few seconds later. Then one by one the aircraft began to taxi to the adjacent runway and take off.

While the aircraft flew away and got into formation our commentator was taking questions from the crowd, most of which seemed to be related to ejector seats. After a few minutes the six aircraft burst from behind the crowd and the show was on. Our commentator took us through each of the manouveres and we even got to hear the radio comms between team members which were being fed into the PA system. As impresive as it was it seemed much the same, having seen them perform earlier this year at the Airshow at Avalon.

When the display was over the team made one final pass over the airfield before heading back to their home base at East Sale. Soon after this the commentator said his farewell and jumped into his own aircraft and flew off behind the rest of the team.

After his departure normal operations of the airfield resumed and we got to see a microlight and an ultralight aircraft land. Some ammusing banter heard on the radio which was still being piped into the PA system was thus:

microlight: "Sorry about the delay, we had a stronger than expected headwind"
unidentified party: "Don't those things have a built in headwind?"
microlight: "please repeat, we're having radio trouble?"
unidentified party "disregard"

Well I thought it was funny...

We then spent some time looking through the museum before leaving. It's been a number of years since I last visited the museum and it was good to see some new exhibits, but it seems this is at the expense of the Mirage fighter aircraft which used to be on display.

On the way home we took a look at the nearby Point Cook costal park which is quite nice with better facilities than I expected. The beach is not very wide, but you expect that on the western side of Port Phillip. As it is a marine national park there are many signs advising not to take any fish or shelfish, it must have some good diving.

Instead of taking the Western Ring Road home I went via the West Gate Bridge and the city for the nice view. All in all it was a good day out. I might even post a couple of photos in the next few days.

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