Ramblers Skydiving – The Rides

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You may note that I have once again been absent from Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  for a week. This is not my fault. It is the fault of the Great Australian Outback, where a web connection is a rare thing. I was, of course, nowhere near the real outback, which is way out west from Toogoolawah, where the Skydiving Ramblers Drop Zone is located. I was the well-treated guest of Dave McEvoy and Ali Raynor, two friends I met in Madang when they visited there. Dave carried the Ramblers torch and founded Ramblers Parachute Centre in 1974.

I really had expected to hang loose at the drop zone for a few days as an observer and general all-round pest. I ended up doing a tandem jump and getting two rides in the drop plane in the bargain. This was an unexpected pleasure.

Here is a shot which I took of the drop zone from the wonderful Caravan:Which I will get to in a moment.

First, I want to show you one of the wonderful sunsets which one can expect here when the weather is fair:Colourful, eh?

This is the amazing Cessna Caravan. It is not only beautiful, but it is an absolute pleasure to ride in:I have never been up front in a plane with a “glass cockpit”. There were only a handful of conventional instruments visible. There were two large management displays such as this one (one for the pilot, one for the co-pilot) with a huge GPS navigation display between them. Flying this plane is pretty much a push-button operation:I was flabbergasted to hear how much this plane cost.

One of the more interesting aspects of my two flights (this one with pilot Carl, in the image) was that I had to strap on a parachute:Some of you will know that I’m an old pilot, mostly helicopters. Everybody knows that helicopter pilots don’t wear parachutes. How would you use it, exactly? However, I’ve done a fair amount of fixed-wing flying, also. It amused me that this is the first time I have ever worn a parachute. It amused me further that the Caravan is possibly the safest aircraft I have ever had the pleasure to fly in, discounting commercial airliners, of course (how safe are   they?).

Here is Roger, my first pilot. I include his image only so that I can mention that I was suddenly caught up by the idea that I’d never flown with anyone names Roger and I could not get my mind off of the novelty of saying, “Roger, Roger.” every time he spoke to me. I think it got a bit annoying after a while, so I stopped doing it:

Roger’s a forgiving bloke.

There were many other amusements at the drop zone. The bird life and kangaroos were great fun. These lorikeets were always about, making more noise than one would think possible:I found myself strangely incapable of getting a single kangaroo picture. I simply could not get close enough for a shot. However, I did get some great koala shots, which I will show as soon as I can get them off my Olympus camera. I forgot my cable and the card adapter, so I have no way to transfer the images to my computer.

Here is a self-shot image of me sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of the Caravan:I’ beginning to look like Gabby Hayes. It’s time to trim the beard.

I’ll finish with another Toogoolawah sunset:This one shows a crepuscular ray just to the left of centre. Well, we’ve all seen them before, even if we didn’t know what to call them. Only the hopelessly geeky know those kinds of things (did I say that?). Anyway we see these rays all the time. This one struck me as a little out of the ordinary because it is shining like a big orange searchlight on the bottom of a cloud above the horizon. If you click it to enlarge the image you’ll see it better. You’ll also see five birds which happened along just as I was taking the shot.

I’ll be back tomorrow with shots of my tandem jump. Geronimo!

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12 Responses to “Ramblers Skydiving – The Rides”

  1. Laura Says:

    The photos are BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing them. I’m glad you are having a great time and getting to do some unexpected, fun things. I got a laugh from your helicopter story!

    When do you imagine you will be in IN?

    Man, I sure wish YOUR name was Roger!
    Over and out–Laura

  2. Sue Fletcher Says:

    Thoroughly enjoy your great photos…and adventures! 🙂

  3. Georgi Says:

    I`ve been an .. hmm.. avid reader for more than a year. Thank you for sharing… That`s the least I could say.

    Now to the post – please, please hurry up those koala images!!! 😀 The tandem jump was probably something quite unique, especially for a first-time parachute “wearer”. Can`t wait for the next post, but I guess I`ll have to re-re-read the Reflections and Tee wah posts until then.

    Have a great time!

    Best wishes from Bulgaria,


  4. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, thanks for my first comment from Bulgaria. You handle English very well. I hope to get around to the tandem jump later today. I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading. Actually, this was my second tandem jump. The first one was covered in I Take The Big Plunge.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Sue.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Hi, Laura. Thanks for the complements. I am having a good time. It’s a great depression-fighter. I should be in Indianapolis on or about the 22nd of April. See you soon afterward, I hope.

  7. Dougie Says:


    I flew the Caravan (although mine didn’t have all that glass!) back in 2000 based in Tabubil and Vanimo. It is a lovely plane and very reliable! To this day it still is the most enjoyable plane I have flown!

    Glad to see you are having fun.

    Keep smiling!!!!


  8. kristy Says:

    Oh, glad to hear you are having fun and not still ‘crook’!
    Enjoyed the post, looking forward to more news from Toogoolawah

  9. MadDog Says:

    Dougie, I thought that you’d been a Caravan pilot. Good to hear from you, mate. I guess the glass wasn’t around yet, eh? Being an old pilot, I could tell the the plane would be a joy to fly. It has plenty of power – 1400 fpm climb fully loaded with no noticeable strains – and just watching the pilot indicates that the plane pretty much flies itself. I’d love to get a crack at one. Fat chance of that!

  10. MadDog Says:

    Yeah, Kristy, I’m pretty much over the sicko episode now. And I’m having as much fun as I can manage. Tomorrow is jump day. Or maybe today, if I’m not too lazy.

  11. Georgi Says:

    Thanks for that link! But you have to agree – back then you didn`t have your own parachute, right? 🙂 You had a young female instructor instead of a boring and plain parachute!

    There are probably milions of blogs out there. My entire lifetime will not be enough to read even 1% of everything that anyone in the world has written. But I will read yours.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Georgi.