Great Oz Eclipse of November 2012
by Joe Cali
4 "Air Cali" flight
2086 is ready for boarding
flight to Pormpuraaw on
the Gulf of Carpentaria Coast
Early in my organization of this eclipse,
2010, I made
an arrangement to charter five separate ten seater aircraft each
carrying a max of 8 passengers each to
transport 40 people across to the west side of Cape York in the event
It's a 550km flight from Cairns to Pormpuraaw, the Edward River (EDR)
airport. Pormpuraaw had very little accommodation, just a few
hotel rooms at the pub. However, EDR airport has landing lights and
Cairns airport has no curfew so I formulated a flight plan to
depart Cairns at 0230 landing at EDR at 0430 on Wednesday 14th about
90minutes before sunrise. The planes would depart EDR about an hour
after the eclipse
The charter company ran into financial difficulty and relinquished
leases of their planes so early in 2012, I had to start
over. I found another charter company and chartered a single
Bombardier Dash-8 to
fly thirty six people to Pormpuraaw on the west coast of Cape
York. I had more than 50 people who had expressed interest. I
figured some would drop out and we could charter a small plane for any
Above: Flight path of Q6 2087 from Cairns to Pormpuraaw(left)
Orange and Cohen families boarding the plane at 4am.
Below: A busy check-in terminal
greeted the expeditioners at 02:30 am. Rod Sims and Emily Love check in
for flight Q6 2086.
With the higher airspeed of the Dash 8, we amended the flight schedule
to a later departure :
Wed Nov 14
Time A'port A'port Time
1:30 am Rise and shine, have
everything ready so you can get moving.
2:00 am Depart the resort for
the airport in your rental vehicle.
2:30 am Be at terminal ready to
3:00 am TAKE OFF!
Destination Pormpuraaw 500km NW Flight time 1hr 30 min depending on
4:30 am Land Pormpuraaw
airport. Airport has night landing capability
4:15 am transport to track on
west side of airstrip or walk (900m)?
4:38 am Astronomical Twilight
5:44 am Partial eclipse begins
5:54 am Sunrise
6:36:24.2 AM 2nd
6:37:21.1 AM Mid
6:38:17.9 AM 3rd
7:35:57.9 AM 4th
Calculated Limb corrections applied.
C2=-1.5, C3=-2.4 seconds.
Be back at terminal ready to board aircraft
Destination Cairns 500km SE Flight time 1hr 30 min depending on
Land at Cairns airport. Return to resort for some well earned
Totality duration was calculated as 1 minute and 54.5 seconds.
When corrected for the lunar limb profile the duration changed
to 1 minutes and 53.6 seconds. Lunar limb calculated corrections
subtracted 0.9 seconds of duration using the Kaguya/Herald lunar
limb data set. The Sun will be about 9 degrees above the horizon
All of the tickets on the flight were pre-sold by mid-September 2012.
The numbers worked out perfectly. The plane has a 36 seat capacity.
Tickets were about $500 each. Cancellation fees for the charter in the
days before the eclipse were 100% - no refund if we cancelled the
flight. At that price, only 36 of the original 50 wanted to proceed
with the flight option.
Another 4 people came in very late in the process after the Dash 8 was full wanting to fly.
Charles Cooper, Sophean Bo, Phos Heng and Steve Kolodny. I arranged a
separate charter of a Cessna 402c through Hinterland Air for them.
On eclipse day
fifteen ticket holders, myself included, chose not to fly but instead
drive to Site 3A or 3B. 3A & 3B had
marginally better weather prospects and we could transport larger
equipment to those sites in our cars. The charter flight would
equipment some of us could have transported. Many who did fly had light
weight gear or no equipment at all and they really wanted to observe
from this more exotic location. Some wanted to get further west to
enhance umbral shadow effects.
passengers who took the Dash 8 flight to
After all the
the outbound flight turned out to be a bit of an ordeal for the twenty one
passengers. The charter company forgot to refuel the aircraft on
evening. The pilots, ground crews and passengers were all ready to
take off at 3am but the only refueller scheduled on duty that morning
wasn't scheduled to start work until 4:00am. The charter company staff
told the passengers that the refueller slept in but the truth was that
the refueller wasn't scheduled to be on duty at 3:00am and they should
the aircraft the day before. The flight took off 1hr15m late. Geoff
Sims among others had already pulled his bags off the plane and was
preparing to leave the airport when the refueller arrived and the plane
hrs and landed at Pormpuraaw at 05:45 ten mins before sunrise.
some very anxious moments with our plane journey being delayed by 75
minutes and several
us almost leaving the terminal to drive inland, we took off at 4.15 and
arrived in time for a beautiful
in perfect conditions and we saw the eclipse from beginning to
end. Beautiful prominences
totality and two wonderful diamond rings made this a memorable and
community in Edward river looked after us so well and their hospitality
was quite unexpected,
of the locals teachers and community workers were seeing
their first total eclipse.
Above : Back of the Dash
8 from left Alex Scutt and Stephanie Hogg, Tony Crocker and Liz O'Mara
with Michael Gill behind(left).
The Orange and Cohen families at the airport(right)
The partial eclipse was already in progress below the horizon just
before sunrise(left) Setting up quickly after a late arrival
the dry lake bed(right)
eclipse was in progress at sunrise on the Gulf coast.
community helped out by collecting the group from the airport and
ferrying them to a wonderful eclipse viewing site on a dry lake bed.
The Orange and Cohen families setting
up at the observing site(left)
Gill, Geoff Sims and
Emily Love (right)
Geoff Sims, Emily Love and Rod Sim's setup
enjoy the spectacle. Note the guy on the left too cool for
eclipse shades - he's wearing sunglasses!
Another view of the "crowded"
observing field photo : © Geoff Sims
Geoff Sims took this wonderful wide field image : -
and this fantastic video
Solar Eclipse 2012 (Pormpuraaw, QLD) - GoPro Timelapse #2 (24 fps)
Sims on Vimeo.
Check out more of Geoff Sims great eclipse images on his inspiring website "Beyond the Skies, Beneath the Seas" at
http://www.users.on.net/~simsg/ where he
has many more outstanding images from Pormpuraaw
thanks to Joe Cali for above & beyond efforts in getting many
of us past the clouds!
almost bailed on the flight upon learning our plane was out of gas, and
the fueling guy was
in bed - but he made it to the airport as our fearless leader Michael
Gill was running out
the parking lot - security almost stopped us from passing on the news
but we outwitted them
all boarded. The crew on the plane itself & in
Pompuraaw went the extra mile and drove us
a nice viewing field with a clean horizon.
crescents at C2 & C3 were pronounced, prolonged and
spectacular, but the TSE was a little short!
Page 9 of 9
Home Page ..............Index of other
1. Introduction, Preparations
and tour structure
2. The final eight weeks before the eclipse
3. Eclipse Week
Observation / Activity
4. Stratospheric Balloon flight
5. Observations from Trinity Beach
and Port Douglas
6. Inland Escape - Mareeba - Mt
7. Inland Escape Maitland Downs -
Cow Manure Paddock - Site 3A
8. Inland Escape Maitland Downs -
Road Camp - Site 3B
Escape flight to the Gulf of Carpentaria