Aviation Weekend

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This weekend has been a busy aviation weekend, that’s for sure. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon and evening attending the VATSIM Oceania 2007 Convention out at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne airport. The conference is all about operating flight simulators, ATC simulators and the whole “online experience” that people get these days. Amazing stuff.

I went out there with Carlo as a representative of his Flight Experience operation here in Melbourne. He was presenting there so we caught a few others in the agenda and then stayed for the dinner. Between the end of the conference and the dinner, we shot over to the airport for a couple of drinks while watching the aircraft come & go. While there we caught Virgin’s new Embraer E-170 jet come in and park – it’s doing flights around the country to train pilots, cabin crew and ground staff on the specifics of its operation.

On the Sunday I went out the Yarra Valley for a day’s crew training with Balloon Sunrise. We spent some time reviewing the crew procedures manual, then had some pizza for lunch and ended up taking a balloon out to a field so we could rig it, inflate it and deflate it, all without the pressure of commercial operations. The idea was that we could take the time to discuss what was being done at each step and review important issues, etc. Much easier to do in the daylight without passengers and with heaps of time to review, etc. It’s an idea that Rob’s been trying to get happening for a while now and it really did work well.

Of course, we wound up attracting a few people who thought we were going to launch. Not likely – it was getting rather unpredictable with winds puffing all around the place. The joys of a mid-afternoon inflate :)

After lunch and while the others were taking the balloon out to set it up, Peter took Marlon & I out for a flight in the company’s new helicopter. They’ve set up Sunrise Helicopters and are running a Robinson R44 (Clipper II) model based off the lawn in front of Balgownie Estate. NEAT!!! A quick 10 minute ride (sadly with me in the back – DOH! :) was a lot of fun then it was back to the training session.

So, quite the aviation weekend. Now, if only I could have added in some flying time where I was at the controls, well, then it would have been almost a perfect weekend :)

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