Flying on Cape Barren Island’s lifeline service
After a series of flight cancellations and rebookings last year, I ended up having the opportunity to fly to both Cape Barren Island/truwana and Flinders Island with Par Avion (Formerly Airlines of Tasmania), aboard their Cessna 404.
Par Avion use Sharp Airlines’ facilities at Launceston, and as such, check-in was a relaxed affair. After the safety briefing was complete, our pilot, Kayle, PAFL student, Bonnie, four islanders and I headed out to the aircraft. As usual for the LST-CBI-FLS run, we had Cessna 404 Titan, VH-WZM.
Cruising at just over 4,000ft, provided amazing views of the coastline as we headed north, although it got pretty chilly after a while. Our descent and approach into Cape Barren’s sole runway was very, very, very bumpy, and as we crabbed towards the runway, the crosswind even allowed views of the runway out the side window! The GoPro softens out a lot of these bumps, although its still pretty noticeable!
As you can see in the video, CBI is a pretty rugged dirt airstrip, and the plane got pretty muddy when landing. With a population of around 70 people, primarily Indigenous Australians, Cape Barren Island/truwana is pretty isolated, this flight being the only regular connection to the rest of the Furneaux group and mainland Tasmania. The locals were very friendly, and I had a chat to the pilot while they waited for the other passengers for the 10 minute hop to Flinders Island.
Cruising alongside the mountains towards Flinders was spectacular, and we were soon back on the ground, although we had a rather long taxi, due to the slightly odd runway configuration. While the pilot went off to wash the mud off the plane, I settled down in the terminal and read the latest issue of Australian Flying
Two hours later, the other two passengers were back at the airport, and we boarded for the flight back to Cape Barren, only just getting out before conditions deteriorated, to the point where I would have been stuck on Flinders!
The return leg to CBI took a little longer, presumably due to the fairly strong headwind, although the approach was just as bumpy. One noticable thing when aboard the Cessna, is that you feel the actual touchdown far less than on a larger aircraft, presumably due to the larger tyres relative to aircraft size.
After a short delay, to wait for the last passenger to arrive at the airstrip, it was time to head back to Launnie, cruising above the cloud cover at 5,700ft.
Takeoff to touchdown was around 40 minutes, unfortunately the views weren’t quite as fantastic as the outbound leg, due to the clouds, but the weather had cleared up at Launceston for a perfect landing.
I’d like to thank the team at Par Avion so much for making my trip possible, though I would like to note that as far as I am aware, the Cape Barren flights are not normally available for booking by the general public, and those without connections to the Island’s community. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip report, it was undoubtedly one of my favourite trips I have ever taken! I only have one more trip to write about now, so expect that trip report next week, from then on it will be a different style of content for the Wednesday posts.