Some Lessons Learnt

Use Current Maps

While the geographical features of maps don't change, things like roads and airstrips do. Following the Eyre Highway, my heart nearly stopped when the head of Bight turned up, my old map said I should have been 30 nm away. The newer editions of maps show more airstrips, but this can be misleading as they are not all shown. Quite a number of strips on the Nullabor are not marked at all.

Work in UTC

The times used by the locals vary from place to place, Although we could determine last light in UTC, we got confused as to what the actual time in UTC was as watches were set to different time zones. This led me to make an unnecessary precautionary landing.

Carry a Tool Roll

There is not a great deal you can do if you break down in the middle of nowhere, but the following tools were carried and came in handy.
Phillips head screwdriver. Lets you get the cowling off for air filter cleaning and changing the oil.
Shifter and tie wire. Lets you change the oil. Also the odd nut can be moved with the shifter.
Spark plug spanner.
Flat head screwdrivers. (2 off). Remove various screws including those on the rocker covers, and necessary to unstick valves, you could do with some Penetrene as well.
Can opener. However no one seems to sell oil in cans these days. I had contemplated using it to remove a bad chip in the prop, but glad I didn't after seeing what the LAME did to remove it.
Spare screws. Carry a few spare self tappers for the cowling. The lesson here is to ensure all cowling screws are tight before taking off.

Tighten fuel caps.

If you don't tighten the fuel caps, the wind whistling by sucks the fuel out of the tank. This can lead to an embarrasing situation.

Plan Plan Plan.

There is no substitute for planning. Every detail needs to be flown out on a paper exercise before flight, and all intermediate points contacted before hand to ensure availability of oil and fuel.

Run your engine lean.

Not only does this save fuel, but if you have a magneto failure, you will know about it real quick.

Met Forecasts.

Got stuck in Albany because of some rotten 30 knot easterlies. However this was a bit of a bonus as I met the Met men who quite willingly gave me information and how to read it. The Australian newspaper four day forecast is preety good, and by ringing Dectalk every few hours, I developed a good feel for what was going on.
The Bureau of Meteorology put out a booklet "Weather for General Aviation" and a little guide called "Flying in the Southwest" (of WA). Both publications I commend for reading.


Landed at one place using CTAF 126.7. Gliding operations were in progress, and as an aside I asked what frequeny they were using. "Oh, we use such and such a frequency, have been since 1960, not going to change now."
This worried me a bit, particularly as the ERSA did not mention the field as a gliding base, nor indicate their frequency.

Water/Fluid intake

The trip took 12 days, some times the temperature was up to 40 deg C, I lost 7lb in weight, and could not drink sufficient water or softdrink. It was as though the air sucked the fluid out of you. I hardly ever had a piddle. We carried 3 litres of water which was used only once as we bought softdrink at the roadhouses. All I can say is if you go in the hot season, and you are not acclimatised to the "hot", just make sure you drink plenty of fluids.

Return to the Nullabor Page