Flight lights: Clare’s first night flight takes place

IT was lights, camera, and emergency action at Clare Valley Aerodrome recently as the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) undertook its first medical transfer there on the newly widened and bitumised runway.

The runway upgrade, which also included new lighting to allow 24-hour access, was completed in April, funded through the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, State Government, and Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council.

As it was the first flight into the Clare aerodrome at night, the RFDS contacted Clare Valley Flying Group secretary, Gary Sims, to advise of the incoming flight.

“Gary drove to the aerodrome before the plane arrived to ensure there was no wildlife (kangaroos) on the runway,” Flying Group treasurer, Tony Smith said. 

The RFDS plane was heading south back to Adelaide when it received the call to transfer a patient from Clare to Adelaide.

“Gary left after the plane had departed, and by the time he had driven back into his home south of Clare, the RFDS plane had already landed safely at Adelaide Airport,” Tony said.

In another first for the aerodrome, the Pilot Activated Lights (PAL) were also used.

“The pilot was not only very happy with the new bitumen runway surface, but with our newly installed runway lights,” Tony said.

These lights, running the length of the 1250m runway, can be activated by any pilots flying over the aerodrome using a special frequency.

“Some have flown over at night and, just for interest and future reference, have used their PAL  to locate our airstrip,” Tony said.

While it is hoped there are not too many medical emergencies requiring use of the airstrip, other regular users include flying schools and aerial spraying contractors.

“We welcome all aviators to our facility in the Clare Valley,” Tony said.

Now completed, the all-weather facility, which boasts 24-hour access, provides greater business and tourism opportunities for the Clare Valley and wider region.

Due to COVID restrictions, the official opening of the facility was deferred, however Tony said it ‘won’t be far away,’ so watch this space!

For further details about the aerodrome and Flying Group check out the website www.clarevalleyaerodrome.com.au or email cvfg@clarevalleyaerodrome.com.au