Flying out of Parafield

Adelaide – Aldinga – McClaren Vale

I grew up in South Australia so ever since I obtained my PPL I was keen to do some flights around the state. After flying to Mildura in 2107 I knew how far it is to get there from Redcliffe so I decided in early 2018 to investigate whether it’s possible to hire aircraft locally, with the aim of flying on Qantas or Virgin to Adelaide and then flying private from there. It’d reduce the cost and save time. I’d noticed on the internet that for a small membership fee the Adelaide Aero Club hired out a few different aircraft including Cessna, Piper and Cirrus so while working in South Australiain 2017 I dropped into Parafield airport. I discovered that the Bruce Hartwig Flying School does check flights for the aero club out of their training centre at Parafield so decided do a check flight with them.

It’s fairly congested airspace as Parafield, being a D Class CTR, is located just north of Adelaide International CTR and just south of Edinburgh Military CTR with controlled airspace directly overhead. It’s a bit like Archerfield stuck between Brisbane and Amberley, but tighter. I decided to combine my check flight with some instruction to build up my local knowledge of the airspace.

Prior to arriving in Adelaide, I read up the ERSA on Parafield and the various procedures for departures and arrivals both VFR and IFR. I also reviewed the CASA OnTrack website for Parafield and listened into the live ATC for YPPF Ground and Tower and watched a couple of good YouTube videos of people flying VFR and IFR in and out of Parafield. I tossed around a few ideas with the flying school by email and then ended up with the following plan:

Day 1: Departure from YPPF via St Kilda to the north west corridor to the training area around Dublin, return to YPPF via Outer Harbour, touch and go, depart to the north east via Substation out to the southern Barossa and then return via Dam Wall to YPPF for a couple of circuits. This would allow me to become familiar with the ground movements and departure and arrival procedures for the two main VFR corridors to the north and east.

Day 2: Depart from YPPF via St Kilda obtain a clearance through Adelaide CTR coastal to Aldinga Beach and land for a break. Depart Aldinga Beach and follow the coast around Fleurieu Peninsula to Goolwa then back to Adelaide via Port Noarlunga, traverse Adelaide CTR and return to PPF via Outer Harbour. This would allow me to become familiar with the procedures for flying south via Adelaide CTR, the fastest way to Kangaroo Island, one of my would be destinations.

After booking an instructor and VH-HJV, a Cirrus SR20, I planned the flights in OzRunways and headed off to Adelaide, arriving at Parafield on a pleasant sunny afternoon. After about 30 minutes of familiarisation briefing I pre-flighted HJV and we were ready to go.

Kingsley the instructor noted that we didn’t need to put in a flight notification given that it was just a local flight without entering C Class airspace but I submitted one anyway. I wanted the ATC to be aware of the plan to fly out and back, touch and go, and fly out and back again as this isn’t something many people do. Kingsley was a bit concerned that ATC would have trouble dealing with it but given that they had the flight notification in the system they were fine.

With a north easterly wind Ground instructed us to taxi to Holding Point Bravo 1 for RWY 03L. After we took off from RWY 03L Kingsley told me to extend our upwind leg, to avoid a helicopter training area. That was the first piece of local knowledge. We then had to do a fairly tight left turn to avoid entering the Edinburgh CTR. Kingsley pointed out the border of the CTR, a line of trees that extended down to the south west. The second piece of local knowledge. We tracked south west to a large sand pit that’s used as a marker for the point to turn towards the coast and after passing abeam the Bolivar Strobe (it wasn’t working but Kingsley assured me it was there) tracked to St Kilda, remaining over water and maintaining 1000ft (more local knowledge). Once past St Kilda beach we could cross the coast following the VFR route north and climb to 2500. Kingsley said there’s no CTAF in this training area and you just have to listen out on the Adelaide Centre frequency for other traffic. Another piece of local knowledge.  We passed by the Buckland Park Weather Radar, where the C- Class ceiling steps from 2500 to 4500 and headed for Dublin.

From Dublin it was back south and we descended via River Mouth to Outer Harbour where, at 1500ft, we called up Parafield Tower who guided us in to a base join on RWY03L. Kingsley pointed out the velodrome that’s on the border of the Adelaide CTR. Another piece of local knowledge.

After a touch and go we had to extend our upwind leg until advised by tower that we could track to the substation and climb to 1500ft. From the Substation we could climb to 2500 on the outbound VFR route via South Para Reservoir and on to Bonfire Hill. Kingsley pointed out the various visual cues along the way and it was clear that the out bound and inbound tracks could be mistaken without local knowledge given the similarities in the reservoirs used as way points.

After tracking out to Eden Valley we turned and headed back for Warren Reservoir, the inbound VFR waypoint and on to Dam Wall, where I called up YPPF tower again and was advised to prepare for a visual approach for RWY 03R. Approaching downwind however the controller changed us onto a visual approach via downwind RWY 03L, as there were a few Diamonds training  in the 03R circuit and we’d be a bit faster than them. We did three circuits and then packed it in for the day. I felt pretty relaxed about the Parafield airspace by that stage.

The next day during my taxi call I requested a discrete transponder code in preparation for obtaining an airways clearance from Adelaide Approach. The wind was from the East so YPPF Ground instructed us to taxi to Runup bay Juliet for RWY 08L. We joined another aircraft at the run up bay, did our pretake off checks then requested a further taxi. At this point the ATC gave me a transponder code and told me to taxi to holding point Juliet 1. So we taxied down to J1 and after obtaining our clearance took off to the east, turned left, avoiding the Edinburgh boundary and tracked for St Kilda at 1000ft as we had the day before. On the way I tuned into the Adelaide ATIS and as we turned south at St Kilda called up Adelaide Approach requesting a clearance. ATC cleared us at not more than 500ft over water with a clearance limit of the Largs Jetty. There are a few jetties down the coast so it’s important to know which is which. As we approached Largs Jetty ATC changed the clearance limit to Henley Beach Jetty. As we flew further it was changed again to Brighton Jetty, and then after passing Brighton we were cleared all the way to Port Noarlunga and to climb to 1500ft.

Passing Adelaide International

Once past Port Noarlunga we were out of controlled air space and could focus on our approach into Aldinga. There wasn’t much traffic in Aldinga but we overflew at 2500ft and after checking the windsock, landed on RWY 03, a sealed but somewhat narrow runway, and taxied to the parking area. Aldinga is the centre for Adelaide Biplanes who do scenic flights around the area, as well as home to many private pilots. Being a Thursday there were only two other aircraft around however.


There’s a great café adjacent to the taxi way so we shut down and headed over for a coffee and something to eat. Aldinga would be a great spot to fly into sometime as it’s in the middle of the McLaren Vale wine district with plenty of accommodation options nearby. Certainly one for the future.

After our break we started up again and took off from RWY 03, turning left and followed the coast to Cape Jervis at 4500ft. Kangaroo Island was beckoning from across Backstairs Passage but we weren’t to fly there this time. That will wait.

Looking towards Kangaroo Island

From the cape we tracked east along the coast at 3500ft via Victor Harbour to Goolwa then returned to Port Noarlunga at 2500ft.

Victor Harbour

At Port Noarlunga we received another clearance from Air Traffic Control to fly through Adelaide air space. Once again it was not above 500ft and with sequential clearance limits. Once we were past Adelaide International we were cleared to climb to 1500ft in preparation for our arrival into Parafield via Outer Harbour.  I listened to the ATIS and made the inbound call. The wind was still from the east so YPPF Tower cleared us for a straight in approach on RWY 08L. On short final ATC cleared us to roll through to the end of the runway to allow a shorter taxi back to the apron.

So after two lessons with the local instructor I felt confident flying around the airspace and was cleared to fly solo in HJV.

Postscript: It’s now 2021 and I haven’t returned to Parafield as yet. I’ve flown over the top but not into Adelaide. Something called Covid-19 got in the way. Hopefully I will still be able to fly out of YPPF in the future but only time will tell.

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