Dave Jacka


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Day 9 – Caboolture to Airlie Beach

Departed Caboolture

Thanks to Chris & Doug from the Rotary Club of Caboolture for picking us up & getting access to the airfield gates. It made our morning very easy.

Getting ready to go.

We also had a few extra locals there to see us off (see below). They were not shy & we were hoping they weren’t going to jump onto the airstrip while we were taking off!


Locals seeing me off in Caboolture.


The weather forecast indicated that there would be a lot of showers up the coast with a 10 knot tailwind, so we were a little apprehensive about what the actual conditions would be & how far we would make it north today. We thought our great luck with the weather had run out.

When we took off from Caboolture, apart from a few scattered showers, it looked pretty clear ahead. We also had fantastic views of the Glasshouse Mountains.


Glasshouse Mountains

I spoke to my uncle in Noosa, Hayden Jacka, & I arranged a time when we would fly past the beach so he could see my aircraft. He was following the Spidertracks tracking system & he & my aunty Joan watched me as I flew by. We continued to head up the coast with perfect flying conditions. At times I could just take my hands off the control column & the plane would fly itself – easy flying! A highlight was flying past Double Island Point & Rainbow Beach which were spectactular!

Double Island Point


Arrival in Gladstone

We arrived into Gladstone for refueling & lunch. Thanks to Gladstone Airport for waiving landing fees for us & providing a boardroom in the terminal for us to have our lunch.


Me arriving at Gladstone Airport.


Arrival in Airlie Beach

As we headed north to Airlie Beach (Shute Harbour) the weather conditions that were forecasted were beginning to appear. There was a lot of low cloud & a few showers but nothing that was too worrying, just more of an inconvenience. When the sun came out & shone on the coastline at times, it looked so beautiful. When we approached Mackay controlled airspace, I had to go inland to avoid the area.  This wasn’t too big a problem however the cloud base was low.

Near Disaster

Have you ever had a moment in which you thought you were going to die? I did today. We got the forecast for Hamilton Island – it said 28 knot winds at 100 degrees. When we heard this, it was of great concern, however the Shute Harbour airstrip is at 100 degrees so it wasn’t going to be too much of a problem.

It was difficult to get over the mountains due to low cloud so I flew into a valley toward Airlie Beach where the airfield was. As I got half way through the valley, I was hit by an enormous rotor which is like being put in a washing machine. My bum came off the seat & my head hit the roof & my feet came off the foot plates – all this despite me being well strapped in.

Ten seconds later it happened again – and caused me to lose my balance & I struggled to maintain control of the aircraft. I started banking over & dropping its nose toward the ocean. It was at this point that I was getting worried. Fortunately, I managed to get back in control & spent 5 minutes orbiting out over the bay just getting myself reorganised & working out the best approach to avoid the serious turbulence I was going to encounter with landing. My biggest problem was that my knees had shifted when my feet came off the foot plates & so this was hindering the movement of the control column.

I managed to straighten myself up enough & came in for a landing, still being knocked as I approached final. Fortunately as I got low enough down to the runway, the turbulence & wind died off, making it much easier for landing. This was one of those moments that I was so pleased to be back on the ground! Tomorrow I will be strapping myself in extra tight & securing my feet so they can’t move. I’m so glad the day is over.

Thanks so much to Mark Bell of Airlie Beach Hotel for donating great accommodation for our night’s stay. We wish we could have stayed for longer! We really need a rest – especially me after today!

Thanks to Compass Whitsundays who helped us with transport today from the airfield to our hotel & will be helping us tomorrow to get back to the airfield. Compass Whitsundays is a non-profit community organisation that offers diverse services to the disability/aged sector.

Thanks to Stan Wright & other members of the Whitsunday Aero Club for meeting us at the airfield & generally assisting us with our stay here & organising the casual dinner together. We had a great night!


Me giving it a thumbs up!


Over & out,


11 thoughts on “Day 9 – Caboolture to Airlie Beach”

  1. Oh my god Dave, that sounded very scary for u. Great writing, I was panicking as I read it. Glad ur a pro and got yourself out of it! The scenery looks amazing, it must be such a thrill for u. Looking forward to hearing ur thoughts as u fly over the Kimberley. Stay safe and enjoy xx

  2. Whew Dave,

    Flying the 230 myself, it’s a real finicky aircraft in rough wind conditions. I can just imagine what you must have gone through. Great to know you made it safely to Shute Harbour airfield.

    Looking forward to your next report.


  3. Dave,
    That sounded very scary! However, I am sure you will make but it may take longer than planned. Take more rest days particularly if you intend to go aerobatic.

  4. Sounds more than a little hairy today Dave! Crazy!!!!!! But those pictures WOW! An amazing part of the country obviously, Glasshouse mountains look spectacular. Hope tomorrow is less eventful! Safe travels!

  5. Hi Dave,

    Glad to hear you had an uneventful landing after that scare! Wow, what an experience. Did the others have the same problems with the turbulence, or was it particularly noticeable with the Jab and its high wing? Love reading your blogs and seeing your photos, enjoy your travels, cheers

  6. After the rotor and turbulence you took time to compose yourself… that is excellent airmanship Dave! Keep with it.. I look forward to your next blog entry.

  7. Very pleased to be part of the Whitsunday Aero Club group who met with you and your crew in Airlie Beach last night over dinner. Hope you have had a good overnight rest ready for today’s flying, and that you get some great views/shots of the Whitsundays as you head north.

  8. Glad you are ok Dave, that was a very scary read, I can only imagine what it must have been like for you in the plane, great work maintaining your composure. Gorgeous photographs, would look great in a book. I am looking forward to seeing a photo of Cape York. Safe flying.

  9. I was on the edge of my seat just reading your report, Dave. Hope you get a good rest and also a good weather report before you take off. Best wishes from here in the U.S.

  10. Wow Dave, so glad that you got yourself out of that situation safely. I too was feeling a bit shaky as I read your well written recollection of the event.
    Mate, take it easy and get a good rest before heading off again. There is always another day!
    Chris Sharp

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