When it comes to seeing the coastline of Sydney from north to south of the Harbour, most people will think of doing one of the many coastal walks or drives, but no one will think of a scenic flight. And when people think of doing a scenic flight of Sydney, most people will think of seeing Sydney Harbour, not the coastline of Sydney.
A scenic flight of Sydney’s coastline is a truly spectacular experience and not a part of Sydney that most people see from above. I am thankful to Sydney Air Tours for this opportunity to see Sydney’s coastline from an entirely new perspective.
We arrive at Bankstown Aerodrome and meet our pilot who gives us a thorough safety briefing. We have to wear seat belts and a life jacket while flying over water. We were granted permission to open the windows to take photographs but only once we reached the coast. This is not something they would allow for other passengers.
With the sun shining and a clear blue sky, we set off in our light aircraft for our scenic flight of Sydney’s coastline. I was wearing my brown aviation jacket that fit in well with the old world look of the wooden dashboard of the Cessna we were flying in.
We made our way north to Palm Beach and traveled down along the coast past Whale Beach, Avalon Beach, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Narrabeen, Dee Why and Manly. The northern beaches are spectacular from above, with beaches on one side and lagoons and lakes on the other. I spot Barrenjoey Lighthouse first at the most northern tip of the Palm Beach peninsula and then the Pittwater waterway pops up along my right and stays with me until we reach Mona Vale. At Mona Vale, I see a rock pool jutting out which we circle trying to capture the perfect photo. We continue south over some spectacular coastline consisting of sweeping beaches, rugged headlands, lagoons and bushland until we reach the more populated parts of the Northern Beaches: Dee Why and Manly.
We travel south and I catch glimpses of Sydney Harbour emerging over North Head. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Centrepoint Tower stand out from a distance. I can also see many of the tranquil bays and coves where many boats are anchored. Outside the harbour, there are spinnakers racing and other boats cruising around.
We continue past South Head and arrive at Sydney’s well-known beaches of Bondi Beach, Bronte Beach and Coogee Beach. I can see rugged cliffs, rock pools, parks and sandy beaches. As we approach Bondi I see the white vent in the middle of the headland first, and as we move closer, the familiar beach and promenade emerge. From so far away, the beach looks calm and tranquil on our picturesque day.
On the return journey, we travel back up north and head inland into the Hawkesbury River region where we see a national park with lots of valleys and highlands, dotted with secluded river communities. We follow the snake like river around and then head west back to Bankstown Airport.
Sydney Air Tours uses a number of light aircrafts for their scenic flights around Sydney. They include the Piper Warrior II P 28, the Cessna 128 (TZX) and the Beechcraft Duchess (WEU).
There is no need to worry about safety. The pilots are the best in the business and include the chief pilot and pilot instructor, Aminta Lucy Hennessy, who was awarded the Order of Australia for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in a single engine aeroplane. The maintenance coordinator of the planes is Ray Clamback, a former chief pilot and flying instructor, whose longest flight is 19 hours and 40 minutes and has completed 300 ocean crossings.
The pilots are so experienced that they flew the new planes from the USA to Australia themselves by removing all the seats from the back of the aircraft and filling it with a petrol bag so they can pump petrol into the fuel tank through a hose that was secured to the outside of the plane and fitted into the petrol tank when they noticed the fuel was low. The seats were shipped to Australia separately and installed back into the aircraft when they arrived. The plane’s petrol tank can only hold enough fuel for a six hour flight and the flight across the Pacific Ocean is much longer.
Sydney Air Tours offer a range of scenic flights around Sydney including Sydney Harbour, Sydney Coastal, Lion Island and Hawkesbury River, Kiama and the South Coast, Blue Mountains and Warragamba Dam. Prices vary depending on the aircraft used and the length of the flight. They start from $345 per aircraft for a 45 minute flight (to Warragamba Dam) to $560 per aircraft for a 1 hour and 20 minute flight (around Sydney Harbour or the Sydney coast) on a Piper Warrior II P 28 aircraft. The aircraft fits three people, and each person gets a window seat and a champagne picnic lunch at the end of the flight.
If you’re looking for a unique gift idea or something to do with your friends, family or that special someone, I highly recommend a scenic flight of Sydney’s coastline with Sydney Air Tours. The Sydney coastal tour allowed me to see Sydney from a whole new angle with the luxury of our own aircraft that we did not have to share with strangers.
Sydney Air Tours is located at 660 Tower Road Bankstown Airport.
For more information about a scenic flight with Sydney Air Tours, go to: www.sydneyairtours.com.au