The Tanami Project has grown out of my desire to fly and document the free flying in Central Australia. The mostly sandy Tanami Road extends for 1,000 km from Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, into Western Australia’s Halls Creek. I believe the area has amazing potential for adventure flying.
As far as I know Central Australia hasn’t seen many pilots/parties.
Ted Jenkins (Alpine Paragliding, Bright Aus) visited in 1996 to explore the flying potential and flew a few soaring flights (Mount Gillen, Bond Springs and a site near Milton Park Station).
Rick White flew around Alice Springs for a number of years (he left in 2009) and opened up a soaring site from Heavitree Gap. He also soared from a site called ‘The Bowl’ on Deep Well station.
Brian Web and Barb Scott (XCkms, Bright Aus) travelled to Central Aus with some clients and carried out some towing in August 2015. They flew from Bond Springs Airport and Hamilton Downs station. This trip saw one pilot fly around 40km.
Phillip Mansell (Fly Dubbo, Dubbo Aus) also bought out a winch and clients in October 2017 and flew from many sites, safari style. A few clients flew 100km+ and some interesting lines and height gains were attained.
This site, in the middle of town, is owned by Air Services Australia. A letter of agreement between the HGFA and Air Services Australia was revived a few years ago. Soaring is
possible but launch is located smack bang in the middle of a control zone (CTR) and I am currently the only pilot trusted with the key to the gate (due to previous misuse of the land) and Air Services Australia have requested the key not leave my sight. Clearance and constant radio contact with the Alice Springs tower is required and XC is not possible due to airspace (lots and lots of traffic). The ridge faces North/South and the wind usually has a Westerly & Easterly component. I hope a future agreement is reached between the HGFA and Air Services Australia to fly cross country.
Cailidh Hill is located on Hamilton Downs Station, 90km from Alice Springs. Tony and Pam Davis were kind enough to grant me access to fly anywhere on their five cattle stations. The take off is East/South East and is around 100m high. It is a tricky site as you only really get one chance to catch a thermal. It is also a 30-45 minute walk and is covered with rocks and spinifex, which is a super spiky grass and has been know to eat up ripstop nylon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the video diary of me finding the launch and flying there for the first time.
Towing in Central Australia
There appears to be endless potential for towing in Central Australia, one just needs to be prepared with extra supplies as things can get quite serious if pilots land out. Pilots landing away from a road network could be looking at walking for multiple days in snake infested inhospitable country. Be prepared.
If you would like any additional information please contact me.