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ruralflyingdoc has moved!

Please go to the new ruralflyingdoc website and update your links. This site will not be updated anymore. Cheers, Gerry

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SA Country Footy Barometer

***Update 4/10/2012***

So it turns out that the SA Country Footy Barometer was indeed correct in predicting the 2012 AFL Premiers, Sydney. Unfortunately, it did not help the SANFL red and white team North Adelaide get to the very end. The Roosters were knocked out in the preliminary final by West Adelaide (like Sydney, also nicknamed ‘the Bloods’). So time will tell whether that part holds true!

But I have realised, as had the Sydney Morning Herald in an article published in early September, that the Swannies success was not only due to the goings on of SA country leagues. In fact my old secondary school Xavier College has provided five of their team this year, above. Those on the list being Matt Spangher, Alex Johnson, Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy and of course, Ted Richards. And there is form for this Swans-Xavier link as past captain Andrew Schauble was a past pupil. With Jobe Watson winning the Brownlow medal last week, it will be interesting to see how many other football stars Xavier pumps out in the next few years. (For the record, old Xaverian Gerry Considine, right, only managed 6 games for Wudinna United B-grade in 2012  including one best on, one goal and one dislocated finger. He was perhaps better known for looking a bit like Stevey J)


Like most of Australia (well the intelligent half that follow AFL codes rather than NRL) I’m looking forward to the big game between the Swans and the Hawks this Saturday. At the time of writing, Thursday lunchtime, the Swans were out to $2.90. Pretty good value if you ask me. And I’ve put some money of the bloods to get over the line too.

“Cheer, cheer, the red and the white”

But the clincher for me was not to do with a paucity of Meatloaf entertainment, possible line ups, or the even weather in Melbourne in two days. Its all about colours. Here in country South Australia, more than a handful of the red and white teams in each league have clinched the flag. Here is the list so far (not all of the photos are from 2012):

Elliston – Mid West League


Crystal Brook – Northern Areas League


Tasman – Port Lincoln League


South Augusta – Spencer Gulf League


Two Wells – Adelaide Plains League


Konibba – Far West League


Parndana – KI League


Bordertown – Kowree, Naracoorte & Tatirara League


Will it also mean that North Adelaide are set for a win in the SANFL grand final also?


If SA country footy is the bellweather for the AFL Grand Final, as a Collingwood supporter, Im waiting for Wudinna, Paskeville, Jamestown/Peterborough et al to get up next  year. Go the Magpies!! But for this year, it seems the odds are stacked for the red and the white. So do yourself a favour, pop a tenner on the Swans…even just to keep Tim Bastian quiet for a few more days.


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Aviation Adjective Guide

Not so cute from this angle…

While walking through Canberra International Airport with a bunch of fellow GP registrars today, one mentioned that she was flying direct to Newcastle. That seemed like a very obscure route. Turns out it was serviced by Brindabella Airlines. I asked whether it was flown by a propeller aircraft. The answer was “yes, it’s a pretty cute plane.” This made us laugh and think about words that were either inappropriate or not for describing the plane you were about to board. Feel free to post any more suggestions!

Words that you would NOT like your plane described as:

  • Cute
  • Fluffy
  • Tenuous
  • Antique
  • Flimsy
  • Lightweight
  • Friable
  • Fun
  • Russian

Words that you would like your plane to be described as:

  • Robust
  • Handsome
  • Stable
  • Functioning
  • Sufficient
  • Vigorous
  • Intact
  • Substantial
  • Serious

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TV these days

Some of the current/upcoming options on the television. No time has the term ‘idiot box’ been more true.

  • Justin Bieber on Australia’s Got Talent
  • One Direction on X-Factor
  • Julia/Alice/Mindy left on MasterChef
  • Being Lara Bingle
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Greys Anatomy (still?)
  • Anything to do with pawn brokers/pickers/rednecks (7mate)
I think Professor Farnsworth said it best:

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You know you’re in the country when…..

Well I’ve been in Wudinna for a good 5 months now and thought:  Well it’s about time I started to collate the experiences since I arrived that have reminded me that “yep, I’m in the country now….”

So without further adieu here is a list (to be updated regularly) of those moments. Please enjoy and feel free to message me to add your own.

1. Naming of the common cold

Thanks Microsoft Excel

This one has only just started to become apparent in the colder months with more and more patients presenting to the clinic with viral/bacterial URTIs or the common cold. Never have I heard a range of upper respiratory ailments collectively referred to with one term by almost an entire town. Fantastic.

2. Pet kangaroos

Kick it to me Skip!

If you have to avoid hitting a kangaroo with your car then you’re probably not driving in a city. But if you have to be on the lookout in the streets of your town and not just the highways that connect them, you are probably pretty damn rural. Here in Wudinna there is at least two pet kangaroos (which may or may not be because pets because their mother suffered acute lead poisoning…)

3. Meat tray raffle

Four all beef patties, special sauce….

In the epic words of Dr. Lewis: “what could be more country than the phrase ‘I’ve just won the meat tray raffle from the local footy club’?” This exact thing happened after our first footy home game at the local community club. Is it considered insider trading if the ticket dealer also works as a receptionist at the medical clinic? Not sure, all I know is those rissoles were spectacular. And free.

4. Country wave

The unconventional left finger wave

Already starting to suffer repetitive strain injury (RSI) in my right index finger from acknowledging every passing car in town. Not to mention every pedestrian, truck driver and kangaroo (see above). In fact, I am so intrigued by the country wave that there will be a separate entry dedicated to it in the future. Watch this space!


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Flying training: Day 9

Towards the RA-Aus Pilot Certificate: @ruralflyingdoc

Day 9

Motor/Sail on in

Once again the sun clambered its way up and over the southern Flinders Ranges and the day had come for my last three ground exams. I checked out of the John Pirie Motor Inn thinking that they had possibly chosen the wrong form of transport for their sign (right). Perhaps a fully sick VN Commodore (WARNING: link contains strong language and bogan activity) would be more appropriate for this town. In fact the boat was the ‘John Pirie,’ which was the first vessel to navigate the creek running next to the town, now full of lead. But history aside, it was time to head to the airport. But first a quick detour to the local golden arches. I picked up a trio of coffees and hash browns for Earl, myself and Col. It seemed a little hypocritical negotiating the drive-thru at McDonalds after re-learning about the causes of heart disease as part of the Human Performance Factors (HPF) exam. The study material for this particular exam comprised a 132-page booklet that was more complicated than Boron’s Medical Physiology. Amongst the heavily worded text were some gem phrases (italics, bolding and brackets are all directly copied from the book):

  • “Heart disease can lead to loss of licence (or worse!)”
  • “Pregnant women (pilots) should check with their doctor when to cease flying”
  • “Gastro-intestinal problems are the most common cause of total pilot incapacitation
  • “Fatty and other gas forming foods (e.g., cabbage, ‘baked beans’) should be avoided when flying as they can cause indigestion”

I reckon gas-forming foods should be avoided in ANY small enclosed space shared with other people, as they can produce total incapacitating flatulence. In all seriousness though, there might well be scope for this part of the RA-Aus ground based theory to be updated or at least re-written in a simpler style. When time permits, I’m hoping to email the authors and see if they’d like a quick edit, so watch this space. Overly complex medical questions aside, I passed the Radio, Air Legislation and HPF exams. Again this was better than most of my medical exams at 100%, 82% and 92% respectively. While doing these MCQ’s in the office, Earl had left his VHF handheld radio on. I was nice to hear the radio calls from the first student of the day flying around the circuit.

Jabba not keen to be retrieved just yet

Just as I’d finished the HPF exam though, there was a different callsign on the radio. “Foxtrot Victor Echo, a PC-12” (VH-FVE) was inbound. Another RFDS plane. As Jabba was downwind on runway 17, the big turboprob ducked in for a short final approach for runway 26. Being out at Wudinna, there’d been plenty of opportunity to meet some of the RFDS pilots and nurses as we flew out sick patients. It was always nice to head out and say g’day. But when the door opened up two red jumpsuited figures popped out. It was a MedStar retrieval. But the SAAS ambulance or taxi hadn’t showed up to take them to the hospital yet! So I introduced myself and offered them a lift in my station wagon if their ride didn’t rock up in the next few minutes. Turns out that’s what happened and all of the medical supplies were bundled into the back of the Subaru Outback on the 10-minute trip to Port Pirie Hospital. They told me that the patient was a teenager who had been having convulsions and deranged LFTs, possibly post exam stress like me. By the time I got back Earl had finished with the next student and was getting through that mornings Sudoku. He was so confident, he was using a pen…no turning back there.

Insanity wolf prefers cryptic crosswords

Then it was my turn for some more emergency procedure training. Day 7 was the first taste of immediate forced landing practice in the event of engine failure. Today we would cover what to do if the engine was running rough, the weather closed in or someone on the plane became acutely ill (i.e. total incapacitation due to baked bean gas for example). That is, making a precautionary search and landing. Being able to chose and inspect an unprepared field before landing on it. After choosing the field and going through landing checks, an urgency call was made (similar to the distress call, but instead of mayday it’s: Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan). ‘Panne’ is the French word for a mechanical failure or breakdown of any kind, fortunately it’s not derived from the Italian language:

“Bread-bread, bread-bread, bread-bread. Jabiru 7265 is suffering acute carbohydrate overload….”

 Following the distress call and choosing your field, a quick mnemonic was used to help assess the suitability of your landing area and direction. WOSSSSS:

  • Wind (try land into wind)
  • Obstacles (trees, powerlines, livestock)
  • Size and shape of field
  • Surface and slope
  • ‘Shoots’ (undershoots and overshoots, ie space before and after the landing)
  • Sun (position relative to final approach planned)
  • Si(c)ivilisation (proximity for assistance after landing)

It was nice to know that there is a good way to remember such an important checklist, but also that it wasn’t just the medical field that shoehorns in a word without the right letter at the end of mnemonic phrases. The six F’s of a distended abdomen anyone? Fat, Faeces, Flatus, Foetus, Fluid, F%#$-off tumour. Similar to glide approaches, the flying involved with precautionary search and landing was enormously satisfying. The idea was to fly a couple of 500 foot circuits (they are usually at 1000 feet) and to inspect a field (for me, between Port Broughton and Pirie) at lower and lower altitudes. First pass was conducted at 500 ft, then 200 and finally 50 ft. It was great zooming down that low and turning to line up with a field that you’d chosen much higher. When it came time to practice the landing, Earl would let me get ever so close to the paddock before saying “go around.” Straight away it was full throttle on and a quick climb away from the hard, scary ground. There were times when I thought he might have actually let me land!! When we arrived back over the airport, I went and filled up the fuel tanks at the bowser. Earl gave me the swipe card to use and after Jabba was topped up I popped the card in my pocket and brought him back to the main apron.

Been through the wash one too many times

Before the day’s flying was over, we had time to practise a few crosswind landings now that a nice breeze had blown up. The idea was to point the plane into the wind on final approach and ‘crab’ down to landing. This meant flying a bit sideways, which was fun. What wasn’t fun was then straightening the plane up and stopping it from drifting across the runway. For this, lots of rudder and aileron input was needed. The rudder used to straighten up and wing held down into the side of wind. I found it pretty difficult transitioning to the straight flying while at the same time holding the plane off and letting it land. It was kind of like patting your head, rubbing your tummy and filling out Sudoku with your foot. Mixed in with this was making the radio calls around the circuit, which was at 500 ft! It made for a very busy cockpit and my radio calls were a lot quicker as a result:

After the crosswind troubles, we called it a day and went back to the office to go over the movements of the plane at the transition point using a model (above). A few days later waiting for a plane at Port Lincoln, I found a very old and hokey, but informative video explaining crosswind landing techniques (below). It seems that most of my learning and thinking about these sort of skills happen after I have been flying, so that next time is all about consolidation and putting it into practice.

A potential cause for total pilot incapacitation?

Then came the long drive back to Wudinna. On the way, the Outback needed some petrol at Port Augusta and I thought that I would fill the stomach as well. To ease the gastronomic complaints, Shell had a Chiko offer too good to refuse. However, when I pulled out my EFTPOS card to pay, I noticed an extra card in my pocket. Of course I had forgotten to give back the Port Pirie fuel card from earlier in the day. I called Earl straight away and offered to drive the 2 hour round trip to drop it off. But he said to check it in the mail and that they could do without it for the next few days. Perhaps they could siphon some gas from the other planes in the hangar?! When I got back to Wudinna, I told Scott what had happened. With his newly renewed night VFR rating and a beautiful clear night, what else were we going to do? Post it back? Pish posh. So the next evening after a day of consulting, we jumped in the RV-6A and shot across to Port Pirie on an inky black night. Highlights along the way included lighting up Kimbas pilot activated lighting (PAL), flares being set off in the Cultana Army training area and me asking what would happen with an engine failure in the dark over scrubby terrain. The answer was similar to Earl’s theory for car warning lights. “When you are coming close to touchdown, turn the landing lights on. If you don’t like what you see….turn them back off.” Earl met us at Pirie (although he wanted to say “welcome to Portland” to confuse us) and stole the card back after we fuelled up using it. The cost would be added to my next lesson, which was fine by me given the great experience. Flying at night was very peaceful, simply watching the GPS count down the nautical miles back to Wudinna (where my next day of training was going to be while Earl was across for some other students).

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What Song?

It’s 7am. You are just walking to the shower to start the day and a little melody or beat pops into your head. For the whole shower time you can’t help but sing along with made up words as you try to remember who sang it. Even by the time you are out the door, the details elude you as you get more and more frustrated.

That was me just this morning. In the past, the artist name or track title has eventually come to me. But no, not this time! Perhaps the old dementia is setting in early. Quick, its time for a MMSE! Somehow I’m sure the same conundrum has plagued many others too.

Previously I had always looked through the Triple J forums to see if someone had found the song. The main issue being….how do you actually describe a song that doesn’t have any stand out features? The one I was thinking of had a normal drum beat, some keys and a “na nana na” chorus. If I wrote that somewhere, you’d probably point me in the direction of the Good Guys ad (or for those born before 1985, the Beach Boys hit ‘Good Vibrations.’

Shazam is another great tool for find out which song is which…only when the actual song is playing though. I tried singing the song I couldn’t work out into my iPhone and I dont think Siri was impressed.

Only trained singers can use this app

So perhaps there needs to be a website that you can post a quick 10-20 sec grab of you singing a melody or beat. Then others can listen to it quickly and help with the answer if they know. In the meantime, here is a quick Audacity edit of me *trying* to beatbox then overlaying the chords and melody of the damn tune I can’t work out. PLEASE HELP, reply below if you know the song!!

UPDATE 20/5/12

Thank you to Clare who solved the mystery. The song is ‘Pieces of the People We Love’ by The Rapture. What is more disappointing is that I actually have the song on my iTunes. It obviously came on one day and got stuck in my head! Im glad the rendition was enough for her to recognise it. Enjoy!


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