A personal reflection in art, science and music



EAST SALE March 9, 2012


After receiving a lunch invite from Wing Commander Sharyn Bolitho the Commanding Officer of 30 Squadron RAAF based at East Sale in Victoria
it was an easy decision to say YES especially when an RAAF King Air 300 from 32 Squadron was to pick us up from Bankstown at 8.30am and fly us to Sale and then bring us back to Bankstown by 4.30 pm that afternoon.

Ready to leave Bankstown

We had a fine clear morning on Friday 9 quite a contrast to the previous morning when Sydney recorded a month of rain in a few hours and almost all roads leading into Sydney were cut by floodwaters.

Not much room but we all fitted in

Pilot takes a break while cruising at 24,000 ft

Our aircraft A32-372 has a variety of uses such as navigation training, flying VIPs and it is used in emergency evacuations during floods or fires. We took off from Bankstown and climbed at 180kts until we reached our cruising altitude of 24,000 ft the weather was fine and sunny and we arrived at Sale after a flight of 75 minutes.

Pilot on the left co-pilot on the right

I sat in the check pilot's seat which is positioned in the center directly behind the pilots so he can see and evaluate everything done by the pilot on the left and co-pilot on the right during training.

Welcome to Sale

Soon after our arrival we were taken to a hangar where we attended a church service commemorating the formation of 30 Squadron at Richmond on March 9 1942 this was followed by a light lunch. On completion of lunch I was involved in the presentation of several items to CO Sharyn Bolitho for the 30 Squadron Museum which is to be established at the East Sale base.

Presenting the book

Items I donated were a 420 page draft manuscript of a book I am writing called Prangs & Personnel which follows 30 Sqn RAAF from 1942-45. It has the distinction of being the only RAAF squadron to serve continously on the front line for the whole of WW2.

This book includes many photos taken by John W Carroll who served as a navigator with 30 Squadron during 1943-44. He was well known in the church in western Sydney and was serving as Branch President of Doonside Ward when the Doonside Chapel was built just on 50 years ago.

Bismarck Sea print signed by 12 of the 24 crew on the mission

Also donated were three prints two of which relate to the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943 in which 30 Sqn played a key role. This was the final attempt by the Japanese to take Port Moresby and is now recognised as the last of the Five Key Battles for Australia during WW2.

Japanese float plane print

The third print depicts the shooting down of a Japanese float plane on October 23, 1943.

Following more speeches a commemorative chocolate cake around 3ft long and 2ft wide with choc coated stawberries on top (you can see about 2/3rds of it on the table behind me) was cut and yes I did go back for seconds as it very nice and less than half of it had been eaten when we boarded our bus back to go back to the aircraft for the return flight to Bankstown at 3.25pm.

We climbed to 27,000 ft and headed for Bankstown and arrived there at 4.40pm.

Sun on the clouds on the way home at 27,000 ft

Engine and clouds

During the return flightI found that I had something in common with the pilot we had both done our first solo flight at Hoxton Park and we had also both just celebrated our 17th birthday when we did that first solo flight.
He has flown 500 hours on the King Air and when he reaches 1000 hours will probably go on to fly the Hercules.

Turning to land at Bankstown



32 Squadron badge on the tail of A32-372

Clouds over southern NSW

Not all went to plan as I had rolled the prints in a sheet of A4 paper and then put a piece of sticky tape to hold it together when it came time to present the prints the tape would not come unstuck so I had to gradually rip the paper away like peeling an orange which seemed to go over well with the CO and the audience

A32-372 on tarmac at Sale

Radar picking up cloud below aircraft

Cruising at 27,000 ft (top left) tracking to next beacon
My seat was equipped with a four point safety harness a lap belt
plus over the shoulder straps typical of those provided for aerobatics

This centre console between the pilot's seats has a variety of uses
It has two almost identical sections above and below the thin metal bar
The top section above is used by the pilot as a true indication
of what the aircraft is doing at any one time

The identical panel below the metal bar is used more so by the co-pilot and during training this panel can be manipulated to give readings which are part of training exercises to see how the crew respond to what is happening
The panel on the right side above the red bar is used to set cabin pressure 5.500ft for around 20,000 and 7,500 for around 30,000

Just to the left of that panel at 45 degrees above is the display which is most often used by the co-pilot during flight
In the photo it is set on the DME setting which is Distance Measuring Equipment the top entry is the Beacon from which the aircraft has departed and below that is shown the course being steered and name of the next beacon with the distance to the beacon constantly decreasing until the aircraft is overhead when it switches to a new course and locks in on the next beacon
The third photo above is radar setting while the photo second above shows the visual dispay on a different mode the this one is the DME tracking to the next beacon
Also shown at the very top of this panel are details of headwind or tailwind while at the very bottom is shown the amount of fuel used and remaining on board

And yes when they do the check list the robotic sounding warning voices saying things like PULL UP... PULL UP... TERRAIN... sound just like on Air Crash Investigation which the pilots also watch on TV

We were taken by bus from the aircraft to the hangar where the church service was to be held and this is the view from the bus window

Sale is the home of the Roulettes the RAAF aerobatic team and at least ten PC9 aircraft were lined up on the tarmac

View from Warragamba north towards Penrith

RAAF CT4 training aircraft with either a 210 or 225hp engine This is souped up New Zealand built version of the Australian designed and built Victa 115 Airtourer in which I did my first solo flight at Hoxton Park

Another tail view of A32-372 at Bankstown

Because of the long nose on the aircraft the pilots are virtually blind during flight and rely on their radar to alert them of any aircraft flying below or in front of them.
As soon as they become aware of an aircraft close by they both scan the sky and point to confirm both have seen it.
The pre takeoff check list is an A4 sheet which is gone through item by item and the pilot makes it clear to the co-pilot what they will do in the case of a fire during engine start.
On the return flight the right engine was started first and if a problem occurred the co-pliot was to go to the back door and evacuate the passengers while the pilot would open the overwing doors and everyone would meet at the rear of the aircraft for a headcount.