Winds, turbulence and more

Thursday, October 03, 2013
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Our lovely motel proprietors at the Boulevard Motel served us tasty room rice for breakfast. This was our only room service of the trip and to have that at the Boulevard Motel in Stanthorpe, Australia of all places was a pleasant little treat. Lynden picked us up as coordinated. She too had never been to the town's airport so it was fun to show her the way in her own town. She asked a few more questions, took some static & staged shots and then was off. Against all odds, there was actually landing traffic of a small light sport plane so we had to sit tight on the ramp for a few minutes until he taxied in. He probably couldn't believe that we were there either.

Shortly after takeoff we heard another of our group, Decius in their Jetprop, talking to Brisbane about entering Australia . Again that put a smile on our faces hearing from other members of the group. Although we were well clear of and above any of the clouds, it was a somewhat bumpy ride. Every so often we would get some rough air and be knocked around a bit. One time our heads even hit the ceiling. We asked for higher in the hopes of smoother winds, but even at 14,000' were told that there was a Sigmet now out showing sever turbulence up to 18,000'. Without oxygen for all of us that altitude s out of the question.

Until about 80-100 miles out of Sydney we were able to largely stay above and clear of the ever-growing clouds. After that though the clouds caught up with us and we had no choice to fly through some. The chop in one of the clouds was so intense that not only did our heads again hit the ceiling, but the screen on the GPS went out of whack. We tried recycling the GPS but the screen continued to look like an old tube tv with rabbit ear an tenses out of sync. The controllers even asked us if we were still on course as we got jolted around quite a bit . In the 30 seconds we were in the clouds we even picked ups. Bit of ice.

Descending to 6000' put us just under the clouds, but closer to the rain showers. We were even heading for some lightning. Upon explaining this to the controllers we were allowed a wide berth to stay clear of the thick of the storm. All told we got a little wet, but it was no longer bumpy and a far cry from the prolonged IMC of the typhoon outside Tokyo. Still, that the one heavy bit of turbulence caused our GPS screen to go on the fritz was annoying. If I stared directly at it I could just make out our communication frequencies and navigation waypoints. Not ideal, but since there were two of us flying it was workable.

We were under the overcast for the approach into Bankstown Airport, but you could see a rain shower pulling over the runway. There was also a healthy gusty crosswind. Johannes still put Maggie down nicely and we taxied to parking in the drizzle . Unpacking in the rain wasn't exactly what we had anticipated for Sydney, Australia. Oh well.

Fortunately a man from a plane paint shop was kind enough to give us a lift to his hangar. From there we coordinated with the local avionics guy that he'd take a look at our GPS. It was amazing how in all of 10 seconds he was able to pull out the entire Garmin 530 with a 3mm Allen key. We thought maybe by reinserting it that the glitch would go away, but unfortunately not. After mulling over our options during lunch and then getting the readability to improve a bit by increasing the brightness, we opted to just continue using it as it. With the increased brightness is was completely usable, just not perfect.

On the train in from Bankstown into downtown Sydney we booked a hotel. Getting to our stop took us past the Sydney Opera House and under the Harbor Bridge, which were great treats. Once we ditched our bags we went along the harbor for a walk . Sunset. The harbor. The mix of old buildings and modern architecture. The whole city. It was amazing. I instantly like Sydney. Dinner at the oldest pub in the city, in a district called The Rocks, was a bonus.

We also found out, particularly through the bustle along the harbor, that it was International Fleet Review week. This once-in-hundred-years event meant lots of tall ships and naval vessels from Australia, neighboring countries, and allies were sailing in to the harbor. After more fanfare on Friday, there were going to be some plane and helicopter fly-overs on Saturday, as well as a massive fireworks display that night. Our weekend plan was essentially set for us...

Routing from Stanthorpe (YSPE) to Bankstown (YSBK):
GLI ARM MSO SGT MQD RIC RIC5Arrival at 8000' at about 2h45m,
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