28 May 2011

Strikemaster to display at Ardmore

As previously mentioned, the NZ Warbirds are holding an open day on the 5th of June. These are semi regular occurrences down at Ardmore and usually consist of the local Harvards and Mustangs and other misc vintage props performing over the aerodrome for the crowd. 

However, this time there's a little extra incentive to go along- The Strikemaster 70 team have confirmed Blunty will be flying a display with Dave Brown at the controls. The other big news from the facebook page for ZK-STR is that cost sharing flights are available. Expensive but an awesome experience I'm sure!

As for a personal update, I haven't flown at Ardmore since the 20th May. We've had a run of bad frontal weather, lots of morning fog and I've managed to catch a cold. Not a great combo.

I've also managed to crash my RC Mini Super Cub pretty well which necessitated me purchasing a new prop shaft, epoxy-ing the fuselage back together in two separate places and covering the thing in tape. Before this happened, I had strengthened the undercarriage with thin plastic pipe, upgraded to my third set of wheels to much larger light weight DuBro foam wheels, and fitted a propeller about 1.5 times the size of the original. It flies noticeably faster but also drains the batteries at a faster rate too.

Now that it's all airworthy again, I've just purchased a Turnigy 'keychain' camera from HobbyKing (Only $14NZ shipped from Hong Kong). These are great for in-flight videos and can be easily mounted to my plane with tape, seeing as the whole unit only weighs 18 grams! One of my mates who flies an RC Cessna 182 also has this camera and recently recorded this vid:

23 May 2011

Student Loan Changes for Pilots

On the 19th May, the Minister of Finance announced a new budget for New Zealand that affects student loans for pilots. The short story is as follows: from January 2012, new student pilots that enroll in student loan funded flying schools will have to pay for their solo hours out their own pockets (or bank loans). Over the duration of a two year CPL course, this is roughly $30,000 worth!

This sucks for new people wanting to learn to fly, mostly teens still at high school- I definitely would not be able to afford 30k out my own pocket, and I expect the number of newly qualified pilots will drop drastically over the next few years. However, this also means less competition for jobs for those already in the system.

This questions and answers article below from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology's facebook page.

What is the proposed change?
From 2012, tertiary education providers delivering pilot training programmes funded by the Tertiary Education Commission will be able to charge students tuition fees of no more than $39,273 (excluding GST) per equivalent full-time student (EFTS). This will be given effect through the Annual Maximum Fee Movement.

Providers will be able to charge separate fees for students to complete the solo flight hour requirements for private pilots’ and commercial pilots’ licences. These fees will not be subject to the Annual Maximum Fee Movement, nor will students be able to borrow for these fees through the Student Loan Scheme. Students will have to find alternative financial support to complete these requirements.

Before 1998, pilot training was being provided in both the private training establishment (PTE) and tertiary education institution (TEI) sectors. Student loans for compulsory fees were restricted to $6,500 per annum for PTEs and to the classroom component in TEIs (approximately $4-5,000 per annum in the case of Massey University). The $6,500 cap applied to all PTE training. From 1999, this cap was removed, and pilots in TEIs were able to borrow for flight training costs. This led to a major increase in the level of student loan borrowing by trainee pilots.

Australia also provides pilot training through its higher education institutions. However, lifetime limit for borrowing through the Australian student loan scheme (FEE-HELP) is $AU85,062 in 2011 (the full cost of a three-year programme is estimated at $AU110,000). Pilots must meet additional training costs (including flight hours components) themselves.

Why is the Government making this change?
The Government is concerned about the value of the investment it is currently making in pilot training. It is estimated that presently only 40 cents in every dollar lent out in student loans for pilot training is returned to the Government.

The Government, therefore, considers that it is appropriate to help student pilots complete the theory and practical components (eg, tutor hours) of training, both through the tuition subsidies it pays directly to providers and through tuition fees, which students may borrow for through the Student Loan Scheme.

However, the Government does not consider it is necessary to provide financial support for pilots to meet solo flight hour requirements for licensing purposes. This is consistent with the approach taken for other regulatory and compliance qualifications, whereby workers and industries are required to meet the full costs of specific regulatory or licensing requirements.

This change will be made alongside changes to the way the Tertiary Education Commission funds pilot training from 2012. The Tertiary Education Commission will reallocate funding to ensure the provision it buys aligns better with the needs of the aviation industry.

Who will be impacted by this change?
New student pilots will be affected by this change. Providers will continue to be able to charge higher tuition fees to students who are currently enrolled (study starting before 1 January 2012)) in pilot training programmes.

How much extra will this cost student pilots?
Officials estimate that solo flight hours over the two-year Diploma in Aviation will be 100-120 hours. At an estimated cost of $250 per hour this means the extra cost for solo flight hours will be around $30,000 over the duration of the qualification.

When will this change be implemented?
This change will take effect from 1 January 2012.

What are the savings associated with this policy?
This policy change is expected to have four-year operating savings of $27.9 million and four-year capital savings of $16.1 million.

19 May 2011

Strikemaster 70 Video


I caught ZK-STR on camera this evening, conducting circuits at Ardmore. Not anything special, just iPhone quality, but still an awesome sounding noise coming from that engine! 

The BAC Strikemaster NZ6370 is my new favorite local aircraft. I'd keenly ventured down to Omaka last month to see displayed in front of an airshow audience, however it was grounded the Saturday I was there, and flew on the Sunday instead. Hopefully we'll get to see it performing at the upcoming Warbirds Open Day on 5th June!

Some quick facts on 'Blunty' that I learned today: 1) This machine is the first Strikemaster that's flown in New Zealand for 15 years. The RNZAF operated them from the 1970's up until the early 90's, retiring them due to wing fatigue problems. 2) The cost to fly -STR is $3000 an hour, and 3) The trip time from Tauranga to Ardmore in the Strikemaster is a mere 15 minutes! (The latter two facts are from a well known Ardmore pilot who was completing his type rating in the video above. After blasting a few circuits at AR, they popped down to TG to do the same.)

Edit: And as of July 2012, you can now go for joy flights in the Strikemaster! Check out jetfighter.co.nz

More Mako Photos

Chris Gee from Stereo Image has publically uploaded a great collection of photos from the recent RNZAF A109 Mako introduction into service ceremony. These are due to be published along with an article in an upcoming edition of KiwiFlyer magazine, so we're lucky to have a sneak-peek!

The rest can be viewed in slideshow format by clicking here. Thanks to the Wings Over Cambridge forum for this link!

16 May 2011

Pauanui Fly In 2007

Whist trawling through my harddrive I found a stack of old photos from the NZ Warbirds 2007 New Years fly in at Pauanui. I was on a family holiday traveling around the Coromandel at the time, and the weekend we were in town, they just happened to be putting on a mini-airshow right over the beach. 

Thought I may as well share the snaps here. They're all ground based and pretty grainy, but should give a good idea what the event was like. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was relaxed and the radials were loud! 


Misc. GA

14 May 2011

Warbirds Open Day, 5th June

A109 'Mako' Videos

Yesterday, the RNZAF held an opening ceremony for the new Ohakea helicopter hangar and the introduction into service ceremony for the Augusta 109 Light Utility Helicopters (A109LUH). Each airframe is valued at $23 million and will be codenamed 'Mako'.

Image Courtesy from Santo Tomasello (AgustaWestland)
The newest chopper, NZ3402, first flew in New Zealand on April 28th at Ohakea on its post rebuild maintenance check flight, but was on display to the media for the first time yesterday. Stuff.co.nz, TVNZ and TV3 all have videos of the machine flying.

Six of these Italian built training helicopters were ordered back in 2008, and will be used as a replacement for the Bell 47 (M*A*S*H) Sioux which have unbelievably been in service since 1965! Airforce pilots will train on A109 in preparation for flying the larger new NH-90s, expected to also arrive later this year to replace the aging Iroquois fleet.

11 May 2011

2000FT WIND 010T/60KTS

And that's why I'm not flying today. Even a Qantas 737 was forced to return to Auckland after being struck by lightning en route to Melbourne earlier this afternoon. Full story here.

08 May 2011

RC Flying

Unfortunately, I've only managed to go flying from Ardmore once during the last two weeks thanks to a barrage of fronts, troughs and low pressure weather systems bring low cloud, strong winds and heavy rain to the Auckland region. Welcome to Autumn!

However, during my down time I've been really getting into RC Flying. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I purchased myself a HobbyZone Mini Super Cub. It's a basic electric powered trainer, recommended to be through several RC shops as the best RTF (Ready to fly) model for beginners.

It features a 31.75 inch wingspan, weighs only 8 oz due to its heavy duty foam construction. However, it still has a pretty impressive range of 1300 ft and top speed of 60 mph, capable of loops which I achieved on my third flight.

Early morning and evening are the best times to fly when winds are the lightest. Windfinder on the itunes app store is a great help for this, with localised weather stations providing really accurate data. Manukau City Council only have three designated areas where RC flying is permitted, Lloyd Elsmore Park, Macleans Reserve and Millhouse Reverse- all close by to my house which is quite handy. 

I didn't actually realise there were any rules involved with the hobby, but as you can see in the park sign above, there are. Nearly every time I've been out, there have been other RC pilots around to help me out, and give me hints and tips on everything from repairing to flying. Reinforcing leading edges of the wings with clear packing tape is an almost mandatory mod. I've even scored a free battery upgrade and larger diameter wheels from fellow flyers- a really friendly community of people. The hobby seems to be pretty popular in the Eastern Suburbs!

One of my AFS mates also purchased a RC aircraft this week, from RX Hobby's in Botany Junction. We've been hanging around the shop all week, playing on thier RC simulator and watching some other regular customers who are competition flyers (and ex Ardmore pilots themselves), demonstrating high end RC models. In particular this foam P51 Mustang below, which was really impressive:


I thought it would be an easy hobby to get into as I have a good understanding of 1:1 scale flying (as they refer to it in the RC world)- and it's true, everything from the big planes we fly has the same effect on the scale models. The control inputs, power to weight ratio, CoG position, turning radius's etc are all roughly to scale, however, the wind effect is much stronger and the viewpoint of the controller is different. This makes things tricky when the aircraft is heading towards you, and you need to push right to turn left in the sky. Takes a bit of getting used to, however I'm beginning to get the hang of it fairly well I believe. The biggest challenge at the moment is landing on the short cricket crease runway, as I have a tendency to over-run it, but I'll keep practicing!

I'd definitely recommend hitting up the Parkflyers.org.nz forums if you're looking to get involved in RC stuff. The staff at the above mentioned RX Hobby's are all really decent too. I bought my model at Hobby City due to convenience, however they're customer service was terrible. This has been confirmed by multiple people, and their prices seem to be the steepest in the country too. Watts Up Hobbies in Hastings is apparently the best place to purchase aircraft and parts- also confirmed by multiple people!

Stay tuned for more updates... In other news, Air NZ Boeing 737 ZK-NGD made a 'emergency' landing on a single engine at Hamilton this morning after a high oil pressure reading reportedly forced the captain to shut it down. All very dramatised on the news as per usual. Video below:

03 May 2011

One of those days...

Where the cloud base is lower than the summit of Rangitoto. SCT008 BKN012, thanks to a trough on it's way down from the Tasman... Not worth throwing my money down the drain by trying to fly today so I'm stuyding through my emergency procedures and volumes in preperation of my CPL instead.

In other news, I've just bought myself a Piper Cub RC Plane. I've wanted one since I was a kid and finally splurged out for one built especially for beginners. Once I learn to master it, I think it might have a crack at giving it a custom paintjob and maybe look at attaching a camera to it for inflight vids!

02 May 2011

Royal Wedding Flyby

Big hype over the weekend about the Royal wedding in London- even though I'm British I couldn't care less about it, however, it was pretty cool looking up at the big screen at the pub on Friday night and seeing the Battle of Britain memorial flight making a low pass over Buckingham Palace. The Lancaster-Spitfire-Hurricane trio used to be a regular sight for me, transiting to and from airshows overhead my childhood house just south of London back in the 1990's.

Some better in flight footage from the Lancaster can be found on the BBC website here. Eurofighter Typhoon's and Panavia Tornado's also made a flyby appearance in the 'Diamond 4' formation repping the RAF. See youtube video here.

And now for some more Omaka airshow photo album links: