The Coast Watch Clarence initiative is actually a follow-on from a trial that was run over the summer of 2009/10.
That trial was referred to as the ‘Shark Watch’ and operated each weekend from November of 2010 all the way through to March of 2011. It covered two separate areas along the North and Mid North coasts of NSW.
One Autogyro was based out of Kempsey airport, and covered the coastline stretching from South West Rocks up to Red Rock, north of Coffs Harbour.
The second area was further north. The Autogyro was based out of Tyagarah Airport just north of Byron Bay and travelled up and down the coast between Ballina and Brunswick Heads.
The trial was funded by East Coast Autogyro. People were also given the chance to take a trial flight with one of the Shark Watch pilots and all the money from these TIF’s went towards covering some of the costs.
The main aim of this initiative was to test the aircraft out and assess it’s suitability (both operationally and economically) for playing a role in aerial observation and support.
As expected the Autogyro performed magnificently. The visibility from the aircraft is superb, and the inherent safety of the Autogyro allows the pilot to confidently cruise along the coastline at a height of around 300ft and have a great view of what’s happening in the water up and down the coast.
And with the running costs of the Autogyro being a fraction of the costs of running a helicopter, it certainly is an ideal aircraft for this kind of role.