Bluegrass Airlines

July 2003 Newsletter





Part 2†††††††††††††††††




Proving Flight


        After the magic modifications and improvements to the basic 247 panel and B17 aircraft carried out by Bill, our B17 sat ready just off gate 57 at Sydney Australia International Airport YSSY for its proving flight to Brisbane International Airport YBBN, a distance of 467 n.m.

        The day was fine weather with 6/8 Cu cloud and a lite breeze from the south. The active runway for YSSY at the time was 16R with a predicted arrival in Brisbane using runway 19.

        My flight plan was to depart Sydney using the SIDS Kevin Two departure track but at lower altitudes, this would keep me out of the heavy jet traffic. From the Kevin waypoint we head in a northerly direction and track via the Williamtown NDB, Casino NDB, then to overhead the Coolangatta VOR/DME. >From here we would  pick up the YBBN Ariki Two SARS for an ILS approach to YBBN Brisbane.

        Back at Sydney, now that the paperwork had reached the same approximare weight as the airplane, they say that it is now time to procede to the aircraft. The gas truck arrived and loaded 1,400 gals of "go juice" on board, this would give us plenty of range for alternates of Mackay to the north of Brisbane or head inland toward the south-west and use Tamworth.

        A preflight around the outside of the aircraft revealed everything as it should be, so from there it was into the front office. Due to age i didnt swing up though the forward hatch as you see on "Twelve Oclock High" that would have meant a week in hospital under traction for my back, so i chose i nice sedate entry via the rear door.

        All the lights, radios, nav and gyros were set to the appropriate settings and the start sequence would be engines 3-4-2-1 the normal start sequence for a 4 engined prop aircraft. Mixture and prop levers to the front notch, appropriate engine mags to on, and we have noise and propeller rotation. The throttles were set to maintain around the 700 RPM for ground idle.

        All is ready for taxi, so its brakes released, trim two notches nose up and flaps running down to stage two. It is quite a long taxi to runway 16R from our gate, this gave good practice with taxiing the tail dragger with some differential braking and engine settings. I found that if you watch you taxi speed very closely the aircraft will give you a very good turning arc with a minimum of braking. All in all with some practice and concentration the aircraft will give you good ground handling capabilities.

        Next was the pre-take off run-ups and all went according to plan. Mag drops were around the 50 RPM range on each engine, well within the specified range.

        Runway line up was carried out and the engines bought up to 1600 RPM then brakes realeased. The aircraft accelleration was positive with the aircraft following the runway centre line without any problems. At 60 the tail came up with a small ammount of forward stick and the accelleration increasing. I had elected to leave the ground at 110 indicated on the ASI, this was achieved very comfortably. As soon as the positive rate of climb was identified the landing gear was tucked away as the aircraft ASI moved on to the 120, 140 then 160 mark indicated at an ROC of 700 fpm.

        We picked up the SIDS departure track and commenced reading the mileage from the Sydney DME. The flaps were bought into there bays, mixture, props and throttles set for our climb to our initial cruise of 7000ft. Auto-plot was now commanded as we made for the Kevin waypoint, from here we turned to the north to track direct to the Williamtown NDB, some 83 nm away.

        Once reaching the 7000ft cruise mark with some bead pushing on the abacus, i calculated our G/S being a very satisfactory 210kts.

        At the Williamtown NDB, climb was commenced to our final cruise altitude of 17000ft at a rate of 500fpm. On reaching the 8000ft mark during the climb our IAS was 220, RPMs 2200 and the MAP reading 30 inches. The ASI, RPM and MAP require constant watching and adjusting on this airplane to maintain good performance throughout the various flight envelopes, if you get it right she will perform extremely well and handle like a true bird of the sky.

        Our climb continued, and at 13000ft we were abeam the township of Taree. A break in the clouds revealed the Manning River which flows through the township. This gave a good visual reference and confirmed our nav instrument readings as being correct.

        On reaching the 14000ft mark i reduced the ROC to 300fpm. The MAP was bought up to 40 inches which in turn gave a ground speed 193kts. This continued through to our cruising altitude of FL170 with the speed dropping back a little during the later stages of the climb.

        Upon reaching our FL170 cruise altitude the aircraft was settled for some more abacus bead pushing calculations on her performance. The engine gauges were reading 2200 on the RPM with the MAP set at 30 inches.

This gave a fuel flow of 296 gallons per hour and a ground speed reading of 220knts, most satisfactory.

        The descent into Brisbane was commenced at 90DME from the Coolangatta VOR/DME with a descent to 8000ft set on the A/P. This altitude was chosen as the LL for the area approaching from the south is 6500ft. Nothing more annoying than a windsceen full of "Cumulus Granitus" to ruin a nice flight. The aircraft proves to become very slippery on the descent so long slow descent rates a strongly advised. I slowed the aircraft in straight and level flight to 180 on the ASI, my G/S was reading 200. My initial descent rate was 500fpm and later reduced to 300fpm, this kept the airplane in a happy speed range during the descent.

        We crossed the township of Casino at 12,200ft then the Coolangatta VOR at 8000 as planned. From Coolangatta we intercepted the Ariki Two STARS track which took us through to the CRAWS, ARIKI and WISPA waypoints. A further descent was made along this track to intercept WISPA at 2500ft and commence the ILS approach into Brisbane. The landing in Brisbane was a night one with a cloud base of 1500ft. The aircraft executed the ILS perfectly and we crossed the airport fence at 150ft with the ASI reading 110. The flared and touched down was at around the 95 ASI reading with the aircraft being bought to a halt with light braking.

        In conclusion i would like to say that anyone interested in flying a B17, take the time to learn this aircraft. It has very good and stable flight characteristics and the panel is most user friendly. I feel this is a pilots airplane and keeps you busy during all aspects of ground and flight handling. Please use my figures above as an indication only as different airplane weights, weather, field elevations etc, etc, will naturally give you different readings.

        My thanks to Cpt. Bill Von Sennett for his work in making a very nice B17 for the BGA flight line.


Cpt Rob Finn





        On june 14 1943, a "war-weary" B17 that had been converted to a troop carrier depated the township of Mackay Australia for the front lines of WW2 in Papua New Guinea. On board was the crew plus 39 American troops and 1 Australian returning to the war zone after R and R leave in Mackay. Soon after take-off the aircraft was seen to catch on fire and plummet to the ground, killing all on board. This year to mark the 60th anniversary of this disaster a ceremony was held and attended by many of the American relatives of those killed on board. A propeller from a B17 stands to this day at Mackay Airport. This is Australias largest loss of life in an air accident.



01 July 2003


From:    BGA Northern Division Director
To:      BGA Chief Executive Officer


1.    In accordance with operational requirements of Bluegrass Airlines Divisions, the following is a summary of flight activity within the Northern Division during the month of June 2003.

BGAN005    Bob Beckelhimer        6.73 hours
  (career total: 670.42 hours)

BGAN007    Brent Perry            5.40 hours
  (career total: 361.40 hours)

BGAN029    John Kolmos           22.00 hours
  (career total: 179.93 hours)

BGAN033    Don Hulick            30.30 hours
  (career total: 88.25 hours)

BGAN034    Perry Hayward          2.93 hours
  (career total: 26.59 hours)

BGAN035    Gene Ward             27.55 hours
  (career total: 73.20 hours)



BGAD001    Brian Wilson        19.86 hours
BGAD011    Ed Burke            18.71 hours
BGAD017    John Lawler          9.46 hours
BGAK028    Brent Brazeel       12.99 hours
BGAK029    Pat Daley            1.66 hours
BGAK030    Ron Jorgensen       42,50 hours
BGAM007    Allan Lowson         8.25 hours
BGAM008    Peter Fellowes       4.96 hours
BGAS001    Bill Von Sennet      8.67 hours
BGAS004    Bill Odell          23.19 hours
BGAS005    Kevin Johnson        9.16 hours
BGAS010    Tom Steadman         1.50 hours
BGAS031    Gary McCarty        12.33 hours



2.    Nice to see pilots from all over passing overhead.  Just remember ---- "blue ice over blue water" only please ..... :o)

R/Sr. Capt. Bob Thompson


Fromthe CEO

According to the mainroster here are the hours for June:

Air Mail Pilots17.76††† Visitors39.87for a total of 57.63 hrs

Alaska Pilots †† 401.10†† Visitors19.43for a total of 420.53 hrs

Australian Pilots 312.97Visitors86.29for a total of 399.26 hrs

Northern Pilots116.66Visitors159.52for a total of 276.18 hrs

Southern Pilots149.10Visitors175.26 for a total of 324.36 hrs

Turbo Div Visitors 83.64 hrs

Total for all Bluegrass Pilots 997.59 hours

(visitor hours are not added to the total as the pilot is credited

with the hours in his home division).


Feature of the Month is by Kevin Johnson.

ďThe Art of Celestial NavigationĒ draws on Kevinís experience as a Navigator with the Marines in the 1980ís.

The vacancy of the Director of the Alaskan Division has been filled by Brent Brazeel.I hope you all support him in his efforts to implement his ideas for changes to the division.

ATP Captain Bill Odell has transferred to the Alaska Division to share his upcoming features and adventures with them.

He has always been a great help to me both in the Southern Division and with Bluegrass overall.

The position of Australian Division Director is still open.


Our web-site had 4,391 visitors in June.In addition many visitors checked out the Berlin Airlift and the new Bluegrass Airlines Forum that are hosted on my personal web-site.

Check out the new forum (no ads) at

Thanks to Tim Pinkawa bgas030 for setting it up.

A partner forum that I have moderated for several years is at the same location.It is now known as

The FS2004 Forum (when I started moderating it, it was the FS98 forum!)

MP Flying

On the survey that we took last summer, not much interest was shown in Multi-Player Flying.

Always one to try to stay on the cutting edge, I tried a couple of VATSIM flights and didnít care for the structure of live ATC.

However after having flown on 3 Saturdayís with the DC-3 Airways MP group, and about 7 flights on BushNet, I am hooked.This is my kind of flying.Low and slow, with some company.Next time will be July 3rd at 1700Z (1pm EDT).Brent Brazeel (bgak001) and I will meet at Prince Rupert, BC and fly up the inside passage to Skagway, stopping along the way at as many airports as possible.Iíll have my DHC-3 Otter and I think Brent is flying the DHC-2 Beaver. So if you have some free time, come on and meet up with us on BushNet.You can join in anywhere along the way. Kethikan, Wrangel, Petersburg, Juneau and Haines are all stops along the way.And there may be others.

If your not familiar with bushnet or teamspeak check out the bushnet forum at

A very Happy and Safe July 4th to all of our pilots from the USA.

And Best Regards to all ofour pilots from around the world,

Capt. Bill