Dear fellow Twin Commander owners and pilots:
The travel destination for this article is slightly different from what you’ve read in previous issues. I write this as I escort our first Journey to Australia and Beyond, which is an around-the-world westbound journey that is totally within the capability of any turboprop Twin Commander with 1,000-nmi range.
This year we’ve made our way from Anchorage through Russia, Japan, Taipei, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea to enter Australia in the beautiful town of Cairns, the gateway of the Barrier Reef. This journey has not been without its challenges, but that will be part of a forthcoming article.
Our ultimate destination in Cairns was the barrier island resort called Lizard Island, which offers its own 3,000-foot-long runway. But with a very small, paved turnaround area and with all the rest of the parking being gravel, we decided to leave our airplanes in Cairns and take a couple of commuter flights. They turned out to be in Twin Commanders.
I flew in a Shrike Commander. It was a 1960s-vintage airplane, very well maintained with an Aspen electronic PFD and air-conditioning. The engines started on the first turn of the magneto. Flying over the Barrier Reef between 2,000 and 5,000 feet with the excellent visibility from inside the Commander gave us a unique view of this most beautiful part of the world.
As our journey progressed, we went to a place south of Melbourne called the Gold Coast to enjoy some ballooning over vineyards. After landing we were parked behind a fleet of larger Twin Commander airplanes that previously were used to ferry tourists from the Australian mainland to some of the short strips on the Barrier Reef. Three of the Commanders have bubble windows, which allowed passengers to look down at the beautiful Barrier Reef.
Those Commanders are now used to carry and move freight, mostly postal packages, along different routes in Australia. They are extremely well maintained—they look like they recently came out of the factory.
As we progressed through Australia to Kangaroo Island to the south, we encountered a couple of charter operators using Commanders for passenger sightseeing trips. We went to wine country in Barossa, the Napa Valley of Australia, before moving on to Ayers Rock and then finally Broome, where again the Commander is an airplane used by an operator to fly people to interesting destinations.
Australia certainly is a worthwhile, fascinating destination for a long-range Commander. We will be offering a Journey to Australia and Beyond in the
Fall of 2019. It will be a part of an around-the-world westbound journey with stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and northern India before coming back through Europe via Dubai, Luxor in Egypt, Sicily, London, and then the U.S.
Stay tuned for a more detailed report on the Journey to Australia and Beyond and its challenges.
Thierry Pouille is the founder of Air Journey (www.airjourney.com), which offers aircraft owners and pilots escorted and concierge tours of destinations around the world.