Episode 14: Interview with Sally Scott at Mareeba Aerodrome

Landing in Mareeba, the crew had a chance to chat with local flight crew on their experiences flying in this region.

Mareeba aerodrome

Sally Scott, Chief Pilot at North Queensland Aero Club says there are some important things to remember when flying into Mareeba for the first time.

'One of the main things to be aware of on the Atherton tablelands generally and in Mareeba is the density altitude. Mareeba aerodrome is 1,500 ft above sea level and Atherton aerodrome to the south is 2,500 ft above sea level. These lead to significant density altitude issues particularly in summertime,' she said.

'The density altitude in summer can be upwards of 5,000 to 6,000 ft in this area. From a performance point of view, you have to be very careful and aware of what your density altitude. If you're flying a heavily loaded aeroplane out of a shorter strip on a hot day at elevation your density altitude is significant.'

Sally also reminds pilots to be wary of birds.

'We've got a lot of birds in the area around Mareeba aerodrome particularly and Atherton. There's a lot of cropping and farming in the area so of course that tends to attract birds,' Sally said.

Other activities you need to be aware of at Mareeba include:

  • Ultralight activity: weekends tend to attract microlights and ultralights. Some have radios but others do not. Always remain vigilant.
  • Agricultural operations: being an agricultural area there's also agricultural spraying operations operating out of Atherton and around Mareeba airport. Maintain a good lookout and watch for agricultural aerial spraying within the circuit area.
  • Mareeba aerodrome can get busy: Mareeba is the largest town in the region and attracts a lot of station aircraft from surrounding remote regions.

Make the decision on the ground as to whether you can get through or not. Don't leave until you're sure that you can.

Sally Scott, Chief Pilot at North Queensland Aero Club

Early decision making

Sally also had some helpful tips on how to make the right decisions during a situation.

'A flight from Mareeba to Cairns happens very quickly and there's a lot going on,' she said. 'Decision making is important before you even get in the aeroplane.'

Sally said you should have your flight plan submitted and you have spoken to air traffic control.

'If any of those things aren't lined up just don't leave. It's better that you're on the ground in Mareeba waiting for an appropriate time to go,' she said.

Sally said this sort of pressure can lead to poor decision making.

Published date: 18 October 2022
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//resources-and-education/education-and-training/out-n-back/episode-14-interview-sally-scott-mareeba-aerodrome
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