The Hastings District Flying Club (HDFC) in Port Macquarie is one of Australia’s most successful flying clubs, because for 60 years, they have practiced three very important guidelines – aviation safety, professional airmanship, and comradeship.
Comradeship is HDFC’s best kept secret to having a vibrant flying club. Every aviator, their family and friends come together to share their flying dreams.
Chrissy Jones spoke with some of the flying enthusiasts about their adventures.
Firstly Ivan Daniel, the leader of the Coffee Club, who was awarded Club Person of the Year of HDFC 2018. What is the Coffee Club, Ivan?
The Coffee Club are fly aways where pilots fly somewhere for coffee and savour delicious cakes baked by myself. These flyaway coffee sessions are becoming so popular, that other aero clubs are joining in with HDFC. Just last weekend, six aircraft from HDFC and six from Armidale Aeroclub flew to Wilsons River, a private airfield near Uralla on the Tablelands.
Other flights have been made locally to Old Bar Airstrip, as well as Camden Haven, Kempsey, Armidale, Walcha and Inverell.
Another enthusiastic member is Ed Godschalk. Why do you love flying, Ed?
It begins with pencil lines on a map, the most basic navigational tools to begin your challenge of flying to a marked destination. Man, machine and the elements! It could be a remote grass airstrip at Rylestone, the challenge of the red gravel Walcha strip on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range, or a marathon trip to the QANTAS Founders Museum at Longreach, taking in the endless beauty of our country as it exposes itself below you.
Even the freedom of a quick zip along our rugged but picturesque coastline is enough to make me celebrate the day my instructor brought me to that moment where I flew my first solo, the start of future adventures. There is a sense of freedom in flying and focus through making decisions as pilot in command, paramount to the safety of you and your passengers.
Being part of HDFC has given me opportunities to fly with and learn from many highly experienced pilots and form lasting friendships along the way. Yep, flying is my best kept secret; ssshhhhh, don’t tell anyone!
Husband and wife team Gayle and Trevor Kee are a couple of members who are just loving it!
Gayle: I received my “wings” on 1st February 2018. Flying needs to be fun, adventurous and challenging – going to new places and meeting new people. My philosophy, “Playing is Learning for Life!” is exactly what I do every day with my husband, Trevor, at TG’s Child Care – just as we do with flying!
Trevor: Now, let me tell you about our “Morning Glory Climax”! Who doesn’t like a good morning glory? But as much as we can prepare and hope for the perfect ride, our dreams and reality do not always coincide.
The Morning Glory Roll Cloud appears on the Burketown horizon as the first rays of sunshine rise on our eastern skyline. It occurs as a convergence of cool moist air on the ranges of Cape York, with Trade Winds from the Pacific Ocean and Westerlies from the Gulf of Carpentaria. This phenomena “rolls up” the low cloud or fog and provides invisible “lift” on the western side up to 10,000 feet high and 1,000 km long.
As many as four or five of these waves may pass through each morning, much like sets of ocean waves surfers live for. The “surfers” on these Morning Glory wave clouds are pilots of sailplanes, hang gliders, paragliders, microlights and much to our surprise on our last visit, a seaplane from Lord Howe Island.
Late September/early October is the best time of the year to experience this amazing phenomena; however, it may not appear at all! Pilots have been known to camp out at Burketown for up to two months, to no avail. As they slowly go mad in the tropical monsoon build up (Troppo Season), they curse and swear to never return. Other years, just like clock-work, the wave clouds appear every morning to further fuel the “high fives” and tall stories of the future.
Recently, Gayle and I loaded up the ute with our microlight on the back and headed north to chase our luck once again. (On previous trips we have been greeted by mixed results). As we arrived in Burketown, a mass exodus of aircraft and pilots was taking place. Everybody had a big smile on their face. For eight straight days in a row, Mother Nature had been very, very kind. Everyone’s expectations had been exceeded, and now convinced that the “season” had ended, they were all travelling home.
The next day was very quiet and sombre for the few remaining pilots. Although some great looking clouds appeared with an 8,500 ft cloud base, no lift could be found on these strangely stationary clouds. Maybe the departing pilots were correct. Maybe we should cut our losses, pack up and drive the 2,700 km kangaroo infested roads back home.
With only three airworthy aircraft remaining at Burketown, the small band of weary travellers met at the airfield at 4:30am the next morning. The first ever “Morning Glory” Seaplane adventurer had arrived late the previous day, after a couple of days flying up from Lord Howe Island.
As we became airborne at first light, we soon radioed back to our new friends that the “Glory Gods” had indeed been kind. Within three minutes, Gayle and I, flying in our microlight (trike), were established in the lift-band on the face of the cloud. Climbing without engine power at 800 ft per minute, we yelled, shouted, sang and hooted our happiness, scaring the big salties off the mud slides back into the Albert River and adjacent creeks.
Soon we were joined by a motor-glider and the seaplane, all with motionless propellers, climbing, diving and surfing this 500 – 600 km long cloud. What a great feeling! And what a great feeling to finally find some cool air at 6,500 feet, as we crossed over the Gregory Downs Hotel.
Ahhh, a Morning Glory climax. Thank you!
To join HDFC, check out their website: