On a Wing and a Prayer: Frontier Services' Patrol Minister Flying in the Dark

13 November 2013

Looking after the plane

Centralian Patrol Minister, Rev Colin Gordon does not spend all his time jumping out of planes, sometimes, he actually flies them! He was recently in Sydney to complete a night flying course which will benefit the people in his area of remote Australia greatly.

The night flying course was held in outer western Sydney to train Colin to fly his Cessna safely across an enormous area of nearly 600,000 kilometres in total.

Now that the course is complete this enables Colin to be more mobile and able to spend more time in the remote areas that he visits.

In his lyrical style, he wrote this about the course:

Many of us may have flown at night across the country side and spotting the twinkling cities 10 kilometres below and twinkling on and above the horizon, a fabulous sight.

Flying at night isn't just about the sightseeing.

The lights are important as they help with location, "Where am I?" the lights in the sky are important to but they can be the cause and effect of an illusion which affects the pilot's perspective on where the plane is in relation to the ground.

So training in night flying is essential and the regular practice of flying at night is important and the focus of training is on the instruments that tell you how high, what direction and importantly what attitude the plane is in, all the visual clues in the day are just not there at night.

The outback of Australia has certain challenges; there are very few if any lights to get any sort of bearing and so the dark without the moon is very, very dark. What the Night-VFR allows the pilot, me in this case, to do, is leave well before sunrise going into the oncoming day, getting to my destination enabling the utilisation of a greater portion of the day in pastoral visiting.

Frontier Services Patrol Ministers all over Australia are challenged by vast distances; two of them patrolled by planes. For Rev Colin Gordon he can now safely fly at night, with appreciation to the supporters who have generously paid for the training.