Had my checkride in VH-SDN today. When I got to the aerodrome, the CFI I was to fly with wanted to know if I could give him time to do a flight before we went up, and I said sure, I've got nothing going on today. I mentioned I wanted to play with the G1000 a bit, and asked if they had a simulator. They didn't, but he did me one better - he hauled out a power cart, hauled VH-SDN out onto the apron, and plugged it in - that way I could play with the actual system in the plane without draining the onboard battery. Excellent.
I taught myself how to input flight plans into the G1000 as well as how to perform most of the basic tasks on it (map management, waypoints, etc.) before I ran the power cart batteries down. When he came back, we chatted for a bit. I mentioned that I hadn't had much experience on grass or gravel strips; he said 'No worries, we'll do a few circuits on the grass glider strip then.' We saddled up SDN and headed out - this time, I handled the radio calls. Did our run-up - no problems - and took off from 24 Camden, on a crosswind departure. We climbed up to 4000 and headed northeast across the Sydney Basin. Oh yes - one slightly confusing thing about flying in Australia is that heights are in feet or flight levels (also feet) but distances and lateral clearances are in meters. Blaaaah.
Rich showed me around - showed me Bringelly (sheds with a quarry) and a racetrack whose name I sadly have forgotten. We flew over the Prospect Reservoir, and he showed me the VFR low airways into and out of the area - handily, they're marked with buildings with strobe lights atop them. Returning to the west, we went through maneuvers - power on stall, power off stall, turns, etc. Then he had me set up for a forced landing drill - I set up on a field, and took it down to around 1000 ft AGL before he said "You got that, let's go around." We worked on prop speed maangement for a bit - Reduce Right, Lift Left; when reducing power/speed move to the right, i.e. throttle (manifold) then prop (rpm) then mixture as required. When adding power, move from right to left - mixture full in, then prop as necessary, then throttle to get the manifold where you want it.
Returning to Camden, we did landings. All went quite well. Rich had me do a no-flaps landing - pull power earlier, hold the nose up to bleed speed, and I had to slip on final. "How big are yer balls then, eh?" he asked.
"How far down can you slip it? Show me!"
"Okay!" Held the slip in past the runway numbers, centered the nose, *errrrk*. Down.
"Great! Let's go again. Clean the flaps, centerline, power, go!"
After three touch and goes, we moved over to runway 28 - the grass strip. It's fairly short, so we went for short-field - full flaps, hold 60 knots until the flare, then remember to hold the yoke back to keep as much space between the prop and ground as possible. That went fine.
Taxiied back in and took the plane to the maintenance shop down the airport so they could put a shot of nitrogen in the nosewheel oleo strut. Ended up chatting with a gent who owns the shop named Dave for a good half an hour while he extolled the many reasons to go to Oshkosh (something that's on my list of things to do but I've never done).
Back at Airborne, we finished prepping the plane. Rich made sure there was a tiedown kit, a case of oil, fuel cup and dipstick, and a set of fuel carnet cards in it. Then we looked at the weather. "When are you leaving?"
"Yeah, looks like the winds are going to be insane on Thursday. Might want to leave tomorrow."
"Hm, maybe 20 knots on the surface but 40-60 knots above 2-3 thousand. Reason that's nasty is that you have to go over the Great Dividing Range mountains on your way to Bathurst or Thargomindah, and the turbulence will be nasty."
So we might go to Bathurst tomorrow, leaving a day early. We had planned to go to Bathurst tomorrow anyway for a day trip - but looks like we may just pack up and head out, spend the night in Bathurst (a quick 70-80 miles away, but on the other side of the mountains) and then head in to the Outback on Thursday from there. We'll pack up and head to the airport tomorrow morning and load the plane, and check the weather - if it looks like it's going to be get windy, we'll just head out then.
I'm still nervous, and getting more so - prepping to set out on this trip, which I've been looking forward to for so long. I've never done more than a 200 mile or so cross country, and this will involve two weeks of 300-600 mile trips, in places I've never seen in a foreign country. Dealing with air traffic somewhere unfamiliar. Yipes. But as my travel buddy says, got to keep forward momentum. Airborne thinks I'm competent to take their airplane. Australia has licensed me to fly here. I'll never get used to setting out into the unknown - like I'm totally fine doing with a car - unless I get out there and do it - and, a not-so-secret, that's the real point of this trip. Sure, it's to have fun and see things and places I've never seen before - but it's also to make me do this. Make me saddle up and fly us 4200 miles across Australia.
And when I have, I'll be able to look back and say "Well, hell. I did that."