A group of keen pilots pioneered new flying terrain in Central Australia, near Alice Springs, around the Western Macdonnell Ranges.
Pilots flew into Alice while Phil and Steve drove across from Dubbo with tow vehicle, swags and meals, in two days!
Local pilot Richard Binstead liaised with local landowners and had suggestions for bold lines to fly. Richard setup the Project Tanami facebook page.
The trip started with the first rain since christmas, this gave us time to discuss and check communications and pilots goals.
Day one saw us flying west from east of Mt Chapple, while distance was never the goal here there is big potential and the prevailing wind is easterly and the road continues past Papunya to Western Australia. Tim with 18 months flying experience captured the new NT distance record. We all just soaked up the new vistas, vast plains north and range after range to the south.
The plan for day two was to investigate the area east of Mt Hay with the aim of crossing three ranges to Ellery Creek. This was achieved before heading west then north west 100km to Tillmouth Well up the Tanami Hwy.
Day three saw us launch just north of Mt Zeil, the highest peak in the NT. Four pilots carried out the plan of overflying three peaks Zeil, Razerback & Sonder. Each had moments of deep introspection facing a 12 km straight line walk out to the nearest road, see track log above. Richard can confirm it takes 5 hours going hard after landing just behind Mt Zeil.
From Mt Sonder looking west
Our weatherman Owain forecast a very high base and northerlies for day four. Ideal conditions for Richards goal of crossing the ranges, we drove back north to near Mt Hay. Remarkably for a tow trip we assembled a four person gaggle above launch with two more close by. At ‘just over’ 3000m cloudbase was still impossibly high, possibly the forecast 4800m. With ample height and good tailwinds we made the midpoint still with 2800m. Steve and Andy flew on to Ellery Creek the initial goal for a swim. The others pushed on towards Glen Helen, the same goal as the day before.
All pilots crossed the ranges with no nasty retrieve or walk needed, a superb result!
We had more enjoyable flights and had time to see tourist attractions, meteor craters and Uluru, before heading home.