31 March 2011


Through another blogger site, I've stumbled across a cool website, flightmemory.com, which maps and analyses all the flights you have ever made. It took me about 10 minutes to enter the airport codes from the cities around the world that I've visited, then it provides you with a heap of stats which you can save.

Rather than logging all my flight training cross countries, or even just NZ domestic travels (too many to recall!), I just entered from memory, the international flights I've done as a passenger.


Most of these were short 1 hour-something hops around Europe from annual overseas holidays as a kid, although during my teens I've made quite a few trips between Auckland and London after emigrating over from England in 2003.

The site also shows your Top Ten airports, airlines, aircraft and routes that you've travelled on, as well as all this stuff:

Longest Flight (distance):6,918 mi, 12:52 h, Frankfurt (Rhein-Main) - Jakarta
Longest Flight (duration):12:52 h, 6,918 mi, Frankfurt (Rhein-Main) - Jakarta
Shortest Flight (distance): 407 mi, 1:14 h, London (Heathrow) - Frankfurt (Rhein-Main)
Shortest Flight (duration): 1:14 h, 407 mi, London (Heathrow) - Frankfurt (Rhein-Main)
Fastest Flight: 538 mi/h, 6,918 mi, 12:52 h, Frankfurt (Rhein-Main) - Jakarta
Slowest Flight: 330 mi/h, 407 mi, 1:14 h, London (Heathrow) - Frankfurt (Rhein-Main)
Average Flight:3,039 mi, 5:56 h

And just to finish off, a photo snapped from my iPhone of high altitude cirrostratus cloud on Monday evening- a pretty spectacular sight for a weather nerd like me!

28 March 2011

Rarotonga 2008

More photos from the archives today, this time from a family holiday to Rarotonga back in early 2008. Nothing as interesting as the Fiji 2009 set, but seeing as I had a few aviation related pictures just sitting on my harddrive, I thought I may as well upload them.

For any overseas readers of this blog not familiar with Raro, it's the main island of the Cook Islands, 1600 nautical miles north east-ish of Auckland. At only 67 square kilometers in size and with a population of 14,100-and-something, it's fairly small, but a popular holiday destination for kiwis due to its isolation, abundance of hotels, swimming lagoons and sandy beaches.

The pics below are mainly from the flight there, on an Air New Zealand 767-300ER, and back on the 777-200ER.

25 March 2011

More Barrier Pics

With 'TEMPO 2500/2502 4000 RA BKN 800' on the Auckland TAF today, my 1.30pm handling flight was obviously canceled, hence the two blog updates today. I've actually only managed to fly two times in the last two weeks, making my status as a 'full time student' Tui billboard slogan worthy!

Anyway, the cancellation has given me a bit of spare time to sort through the other photos from my Great Barrier Island Trip earlier this month. As I hinted in the original post, I'm uploading a few more snaps that I didn't stick up first time around. Not as many aviation related ones in this set, and I can't be bothered capturing them this time, but hopefully a few people out there will find these interesting all the same.

24 March 2011

GPS on iPhone

Since every man and his dog have an iPhone down at Ardmore, I decided that it was time I jumped on the bandwagon and upgraded. I'd been using an iPod touch 2G as a means of checking weather and NOTAMs at home when I couldn't be bothered firing up my laptop, but with my new iPhone 4, I can now do this anywhere there is 3G coverage, (according to vodafone, "available at 97% of the places NZers live, work and play") ie, in the sky during flight or at remote aerodromes!

There's a whole host of other features obviously, including an inbuilt GPS, an three-axis gyroscope and the three-axis accelerometer to measure rotational motion and linear motion. Applications can be downloaded from the Apple Store to take advantage of these, and display information in the form of an aircraft Directional Indicator, Artificial Horizon, GeeMeter etc).

My favorite is the GPS though- I downloaded the 'MotionX GPS' app which allows you to record and save your movement, in any vehicle, but is particularly good for aircraft. This is an example of a local flight in the training area I recorded yesterday:

View Larger Map

If you zoom in a little, you can clearly see little notches where I pulled some max rate turns, the slightly more defined notches were stalls in a steep turn, then tracking back up the Hunua valley, you can see the short legs of a FLWOP circuit. This is followed by a sharp righthand turn abeam Drury where my instructor took over to get out of the way of what looked like an aircraft practicing spinning at our 12 o'clock high, then a neat overhead to land flapless on runway 03.

The app stats show that I flew a distance of 74.5 nautical miles, had an elapsed time of 1:01:14, average speed was 73.0 knots, maximum speed was 125.6 knots, minimum Altitude was 128 feet, and maximum altitude was 3,571 feet. It must be a little bit out, as Ardmore sits 111 feet above mean sea level, but still, not bad for $1.29!

Other GPS applications in the Apple store go for $50-$90, but they include directions along roads. The only limit of MotionX is that it will only guide you waypoint to waypoint in a straight line, which just so happens to be perfect for navigating cross country. It even gives you an ETA, distance, and magnetic heading required to your destination, just like the basic Garmins do- and what's more, you can select maps to save whilst connected to wifi that you can view offline, just in case there is no 3G coverage at your destination. Even setting minimum and maximum zoom levels of the map that you will want to use, so you don't take up too much data. It's genius!

22 March 2011

BBYC Harvard Formation Flyby

Last Thursday (17th March), I was parking up trusty ole LAT after a training area flight with a B Cat. instructor when I saw four of the Ardmore based Harvard's lining up for a formation flyby for the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club.

A mate of mine, Leo Pardon, who instructs down at the Aero Club was lucky enough to score a backseat in one of the 1940's beasts and uploaded an awesome album of photos from the flight that can be viewed on facebook here.

With his permission, I've also copied and pasted a few to this blog page too- thanks alot Leo! If you're familiar with East Auckland, you may be able to spot a few places you know in the background of the pictures below:

16 March 2011

Sendai Airport after Tsunami

Not a New Zealand story from the sky, but everyone here can relate to the constant stream of news footage on TV from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last Friday. As of today, 16th March 2011, 3373 are reported dead, 1990 injured and over 7500 missing- very sad stuff.

The 9.0 quake struck at 2.46pm local time, 70 km off shore of the north east of the country. At 3.55pm, the resultant tidal wave hit the shoreline, 33 feet high at it's peak. Sendai International Airport (RJSS) which sits right next to the sea was extremely badly affected, as you can see in these photos below from the Associated Press and Reuters:

Fortunately, it was reported that no large airliners were on the ground at the time with the schedules showing no flights were due to arrive or depart around the time of day the disaster occurred. However some 2200 passengers were reported stranded inside the terminal and the airport has obviously been closed until further notice with its facilities all inoperable.

Urban search and rescue teams, including NZ's own, have flown to Japan through Tokyo to help out the search and rescue mission after the Japanese recently came to our aid during the Christchurch quake in February.

Mainstream media reported the chance of a slight Tsunami hitting New Zealand the following day, but nothing significant happened around the Auckland region that I could see, although friends on Great Barrier Island saw the tide going out then coming back in quickly early Saturday morning.

14 March 2011

Great Barrier Island Weekend

I've had a pretty full on last couple of days- four handling flights last week thanks to the great weather, some big study sessions of Part 135 and Air Transport Operation flight planning and a CPL ground course at school. I also renewed my CAA Class 1 medical with Dr Lee on Friday, then to top it all off- had a great weekend away flying out to The Barrier in ZK-LAT, staying overnight with mates!

For those who don't know, Great Barrier Island is roughly 55 nautical miles north east of Ardmore, separated from the top of the Coromandel Peninsular by the Colville Channel. At 285km squared in size, it's NZ's forth largest island, blocking the Hauraki Gulf and greater Auckland area from major Pacific Island storms- hence the name. It's fairly rugged, with 60% of the land owned by DoC as a nature reserve, although there are an abundance of amazing sandy beaches running around the perimeter, as well as plenty of lovely sheltered bays. (See Map)

Only 850 people make up the permanent residents of the island (including a fair share of rather quirky eccentrics), compared to Waiheke at 92km squared with a population of 7700, however, it's a popular holiday spot with city folk. It's usually a 4 and a half hour ferry ride from downtown Auckland or 30 minute flight in a 10 seater propeller powered regional airliner to Claris or Okiwi airfields. These pass overhead my house in Half Moon Bay so often that I can tell the time by the rumble of their engines!

Claris (NZGB) is the main airport, with a 950m sealed runway, infamous with student pilots for windshear on final approach in SW wind conditions due to hilly terrain nearby. I'd visited a few times before, as a passenger with mates, dual with my instructor on cross countries, and previously as PiC with my Dad in the right hand seat- 20 knot winds that day were so strong the turbulence descending into land made him throw up! The landing was going to be a touch and go, but I decided to make it a 'full stop' so that he could clean himself up. However, I've never experienced so much windshear, so in interest of safety, decided to just track straight back to Ardmore instead.

Saturday's conditions were beautiful though- with a lovely big 1032hPa anticyclone hanging over the country. A light tailwind made our outbound journey a mere 25 minutes, with a gentle sea breeze headwind providing a lovely calm landing on runway 10. I was very grateful for this, and had even made my girlfriend take travel-sick pills as a precaution beforehand, but thankfully it was smiles all around once down on the ground.

A Sun Air Piper Aztec was the only other active aircraft about as I parked up on the edge of the closed grass crosswind runway, tied LAT down, with the ground screws facing in towards the aircraft in case of any strong gusts. We then met our mates who took us on a little tiki tour as we headed down to the southern end of the island where they own a holiday home set in 12 hectares of bush near the settlement of Tryphena.

It really is like another world, with the island atmosphere described as being like "life in New Zealand many decades back"- very easy to forget that the big city is only half an hour away. The BBC show, Castaway, made the island famous when it's 2007 series was filmed at Harataonga Bay about 10km north of the airport. We also noticed a fair few abandoned vehicles in bush/fields/swamps at the side of the road, and only saw about 7 other cars driving on the 2 days. A very pleasant novelty!

Dipping the oil at Ardmore
En route, tracking through the Waiheke Channel
Approaching Tryphena harbour
Oruawharo Bay
Upper Kaitoke Beach
Welcome Sign!
Medlands Beach
Tsunami warning from the 8.9 earthquake in Japan the day before
Hanging the keys to LAT over Medlands- proof I was there!
Puriri Bay on the East Coast
View from the deck / our shooting range
Abandoned Landie at the bottom of the drive
A sad looking bus a little further along
Tryphena at low tide the next morning
Looking down at the Oruawharo Bay headland seen in the 4th photo
The main sealed road
The pyramid shaped mountain responsible for windshear on approach
ZK-SFK, a Fly My Sky Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander

Oruawharo Bay again, seen on departure
North Medlands Rocks
Climbing over Tryphena harbour
All in all it was a very enjoyable weekend. Good weather, good flying, good stunning scenery, good company, good food and good beer! Mother Nature was kind again on Sunday and gave us another tailwind back to the mainland, and my girlfriend even spotted a pod of 15 dolphins in the gulf. We definitely hope to go back for longer next time.

I've still got over 280 other photos from the weekend sitting on the computer which I'll get around to sorting out and may upload a selection of to this blog in the future- stay tuned!