I know I can fly

That’s what I typically said, when someone was asking me, why I’m taking the railway. Typically, I didn’t elaborate, that I meant that literally. So, after 2 years of travelling, my class ratings from my PPL-A were going to expire. I need 12 block hours and 12 starts to extend them. At the same time, also my medical was due to expire. So I tried to figure out, how and if I can extend my CRs in Australia, because in the end I need a flight instructor to sign my check flight. I was already running late in time due to my medical. Then I couldn’t apply for a safety clearance, because the Australian CASA has stubborn rules. They insisted that I need to have a valid medical from the same country as my license. Why? It doesn’t make any sense. Even in Europe your medical can be from a different country than your license. Why can’t I get a medical from a CASA approved physician? Don’t you trust your own physicians to check me? So you think German bureaucracy is bad and doesn’t make sense…you haven’t heard of the Australian ones. Their rules are so stupid and lack any rational basis. It’s beyond comprehension.

Thus, I couldn’t rent any SEP, I reached out to Sydney Glider Flights. They have a Dimona TMG, and I used to fly them when I was in Austria. They’re basically two old blokes Laurie and Colin, both FI’s (for Sailing Pilots). But as I have my TMG class rating also in my PPL-A I could put the hours in my PPL logbook rather than my SPL logbook.

They operate from Camden Airport in South-West Sydney. So, it was quite a distance to get to them, but luckily the train still drives until Campbelltown, and thanks to Colin, he always picked me up from the railway station. He had one of those old green MG sport cars (and an ugly dog). But I was positively surprised how much leg space is there for the passenger. I’ve never had so much room in modern cars like in this one. I could even stay at his place once, so I didn’t need to commute all the way. He’s a funny pommy guy. Is flying his whole life and was even maintenance engineer at JetStar. Laurie is an retired teacher of German heritage.

I flew once with Laurie across the Blue Mountains to Rylstone near Mudgee. Had a short break, a bit of hangar talk to the locals. One of them was building his own plane, and then via Katoomba back to Camden. With Colin we did mainly local flights in the south west towards Mittagong and the Nattai National Park. It was quite fun to fly with both of them. But as they were only FI’s for SPL’s I needed to find a FI to sign me off for my PPL.

Lucky me because of Covid-19 the German authorities extended the deadline by 4 months to extend your CRs. So, in the end I did a check flight with a FI. It was my first flight in a Cessna C-172. I only used to fly the smaller C-150 two seater before. Well, at least I thought I did my check flight. Then the trouble started. He didn’t want to sign the papers (it’s only two pages), because there is no English translation. As such, I explained the situation to the German authorities. Then surprisingly, they came back to me, and said I can’t extend my CRs outside Europe, but due to Covid-19 they made an exemption. They even provided a translation of the 2-page document for the FI. Nevertheless, the discussion was ongoing. I tried to resolve all his questions. But in the end we went into circles. Once one issue was resolved, he found another excuse not to sign the check flight. Yes, in Australia it’s different. No in EASA a check flight is not the same as a proficiency check. That whole discussion was ongoing for over 1 year until August 2021. Then I gave up, because I would have needed another check flight in 2022. And it was then conceivable that I won’t be back in Germany. I thought to transfer my licence to Australia, but then I would have the troubles all the way around, once I’m back in the EU. So I didn’t follow up on that either. Now my CRs are expired in my PPL-A, but I still could fly TMGs with my SPL.

Laurie and I on the way to Rylstone
Warragamba Dam (main water supply for Sydney)
From the air you see how many ridge lines the Blue Mountains have (not a good place for emergency landings, but the Dimo is still a glider 😉)
Condensation of the Mount Piper coal fired power station (behind Lithgow) is a good indication we’re on the right way
On the way back near Katoomba we could spot the Three Sisters
Dimona safely back at Camden Airport
Me in the Cessna C-172 (I still don’t like them to fly)

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