Ramblers Skydiving – The Rides

Posted in On Tthe Road on March 30th, 2011 by MadDog
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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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The Birds!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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This morning I walked over to the Hotel Pretentious to get few more  shots of the Victoria Crowned Pigeons. There’s a story here – I’ll try to keep it short, since there are a lot of pictures in this post and I want to get to them.

But first, A Pub-like Pronouncement:  I’d been corresponding with a Facebook friend who appeared, from her profile, to be an accomplished painter. There was a compete info page and lots of nice photos. Yesterday I got an email from “her” (not going to give the name, in case she got hacked and she’s for real) saying that she was stranded in London and urgently requested me to send her money . . . well, just read the email . . .

Hope you get this on time, sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip in United kingdom, I’m presently in Surrey and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept. presently i have limited access to internet, I will like you to assist me with a loan of £1,450 to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with, I’ll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return, let me know if you can be of any help.

I don’t have a phone where i can be reached.   Please let me know immediately.

Suspicious to say the least! There’s the fractured English, the peculiar amount, the urgent appeal, the sincere promise – all the hallmarks of a scam. In this case there was also the “lady in distress” for which I am a born sucker (ladies take note). “She” had previously contacted me via Facebook message asking me to get some more images of the Victoria Crowned Pigeon so that shes could paint them!  Fantastic!

I snooped around in Google and found that this is the “London Facebook Scam”. It seems that (if I have my facts right) hackers (criminals – it’s nearly synonymous now) set up fake Facebook sites to make “friends” (suckers!) and then use various means to defraud them of their hard earned cash. Well, I didn’t fall for that  one! All traces of this Facebook “friend” have now vanished, except  for the messages in my message folder which , curiously, now show no URL link at the bottom of Firefox and are not underlined.

So, that being announced, let’s get to The Birds! I’ll bet there are one or two which you may never have seen. This one, however is familiar to almost everybody:

It is, of course, the Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua  galerita),  considered vermin in Australia. I’ve had several as pets. I get them at the market when they are very young, sometimes still covered with tree sap from their nests. They bond strongly with humans and are incredible mimics. Walking around with your Cockatoo on your shoulder is common enough here. Over time, they gradually wander more and more until you never see them again. It’s a little sad, but if you’re going to keep wild birds as pets, it seems the most responsible way to do so.

You’ve seen the Sulfur-Crested here before in The Cocaltoo That Loathed Rush Limbaugh.

Well, you’ve seen this outrageous, world’s largest pigeon here before, so regular readers will recognise the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria): 

This one is pecking madly at a Star Fruit freshly fallen from the tree.

Here’s another fairly familiar bird, the Papuan Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus):

You’ve seen them here before in my post about the Balek Wildlife Sanctuary.

These are young individuals. The prominent horn on the upper beak is only now forming:

The eyes are startling.

This one is having a bad-hair day:

I haven’t had a good-hair day for a while.

I might be willing to place a small bet that you have never seen one of these:

It is a Pesquet’s Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus),  sometimes known as the Vulturine Parrot.

It does present a rather menacing aspect. As I was shooting it, it moved toward me several times, trying to get it’s beak on my camera or my fingers, I’m not sure which:

I politely declined to allow that.

The image above may remind some long-time readers of of The Lorikeet From Hell in which I brutalised the Black-Capped Lorikeet (Lorius lory)  way back in September of 2008.

The resemblance is somewhat striking.

Okay, okay, I can hear you yawning from here. “Come on! Give me something I haven’t seen!”

Right! Never fear. IN YOUR FACE  – a Parrot Fight!

The pesky male Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)  simply would not allow the giant, vulture-like black and red terror bird keep that tasty treat. It kept hounding the larger bird until it was worn down. It was a David and Goliath sort of thing.

If you find anything more interesting on the web today, please pass it along to me.

I’m bored. That usually means something dangerous is in the works.

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