Alice Springs Helicopters offering scenic flights over Australia's red desert

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 3:40PM
Alice Springs' Finke Desert. (Photo / Steve Strike, Getty Images)
Alice Springs' Finke Desert. (Photo / Steve Strike, Getty Images)

Alice Springs Helicopters offering scenic flights over Australia's red desert

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Nov 2021, 3:40PM

In Australia's Northern Territory there's one tourism venture for which the pandemic has provided a boost. 

Alice Springs Helicopters has begun offering scenic flights over Australia's largest airplane parking lot. 

Arriving in the Finke Desert at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, there is now a collection of 140 aircraft in the desert. This includes planes belonging Cathay Pacific, Jetstar and four, massive A380 superjumbo jets from Singapore Airlines. 

Travel vlogger Dennis Bunnik said it was an experience he had been looking forward to for the past 20 months. 

Normally based in Adelaide South Australia, he finally head across the border to see the Red Centre's collection of grounded aircraft. 

This was not an "aircraft graveyard", said Bunnik. Instead, it was a parking lot for surplus aircraft during the pandemic. 

Alice Springs Helicopters pilot Kat said pre-Covid scenic flights of the airport was "not something there was much interest in." However, the collections of exotic planes and easing federal travel restrictions have brought Aussie aviation enthusiasts flocking to the red desert. 

The only operators in central Australia, they provide heli-links to visitors looking for lost sacred sites and the odd rescue. "If you get lost in the bush on the Larapinta trail and you need rescue, that would be us," she said. 

Costing AU$500 for 20 minutes the aviation fanatic was thrilled. 

Describing the experience as "surreal, beautiful, sad," Bunnik was also "hopeful" that some of the mothballed aircraft begin to come back to life. 

As someone who works in the travel industry and is lobbying the government for support, he said the flight was an enjoyable but sobering experience. 

"Each aircraft represents hundreds, if not thousands, of lost jobs, lost dreams and careers that have ended prematurely," said Bunnik "They also represent the thousands of families who have been kept apart by this damn virus." 

On Tuesday there was a sign that the restart is winging its way to Sydney Airport. 

Carrier Qantas, which has been storing its long-haul A380 jumbo jets in California, has been recalling them into service. 

VH-OQB, named after the airline's founder Hudson Fysh, was the first to touch down back on Aussie soil after a stopover at Airbus engineering in Germany.