29 July 2011

40 Jet Flyover for Wanaka

Exciting news from the Otago Daily Times about WoW 2012:
"A planned air race for corporate high-flyers may bring up to 40 privately-owned jet aircraft to the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow next April and boost business links between China and New Zealand.

The aircraft will make a low-altitude pass over Wanaka Airport during next Easter's airshow, as part of the Hong Kong to Christchurch Silver Ferns Air Race, between March 26 and April 1. The aircraft will also fly over Fiordland."
Read the full article here.

28 July 2011

Snowy ATR Snaps

Provided by NZFF.org forum member, and Mount Cook Airlines ATR 72-500 driver 'ruakituri' from a snowy Christchurch earlier this week.

27 July 2011


It was rather chilly on Monday the 25th with a horribly low temperature of -6 °C recorded down in Tekapo. Christchurch had its second coldest day on record with a high of 1.9°C, Wellington had its coldest day since the 1940s when records began, and Auckland experienced its 5th coldest day ever.

This was due to large blast of Antarctic air sweeping up the Southern Ocean, creating the most widespread snowfall the country has experienced since 1995. The South Island bore the brunt, with NZCH, NZDN and NZQN all closed due to snow. However, the North Island received some unlikely dumps in spots such as Palmerston North and the Kaimai Ranges near Tauranga!

An Air New Zealand 737 at Christchurch. © Anthony Tekahu
Snow was even forecast on the tops of the Waitakere Ranges and the Hunua Ranges, just a few miles from Ardmore. Crazy! SHRAGS were issued on Monday's METARs and the freezing level was actually down to an incredible 3000 feet AMSL. (Usually it's up somewhere above 7000 feet over Auckland). Just for comparison, the highest peak in the Hunuas is 2257' and 1555' in the Waitaks. The top of the Skytower at 1173', and may have even received a dusting itself according to the Metservice forecasters.

Mount Te Aroha, at 3123' near the Coromandel had a visible snow line between 400m to 500m (1312 feet to 1640 feet) on its western side as seen in the photo below on the left from Ian Duncan. The picture on the right shows sleet accumulation on the highest point of Scenic Drive over the Waitakeres.

On a personal note, since there are only two instructors who can teach the mountain flying syllabus at AFS, I haven't even been able to begin building the 10 hours needed before I can sit my CPL flight test. I've only been given two handling flights all month so have began working at the airport in my newly found spare time. 

On Monday, I was over at Auckland Domestic and saw hundreds of stranded passengers waiting around due to no South Island flights leaving. The Metflight GA webcams from NZCH and NZDN were also pretty impressive to watch, but seeing as I was on the work PC, I didn't manage to snap any screenshots. To make up for that, here are two photos from CH courtesy of Tom Vincent:

Yesterday, when the snow began to melt, Air New Zealand had to put on a Boeing 777 on their Auckland to Christchurch route to make up for all the delays from Monday. Hopefully the weather stays clear for the next month as I'm due to visit both Christchurch and Dunedin with cheap $1 airfares I scored through grabaseat!

20 July 2011

Metflight on the News

Re my blog post, Having to pay for Metflight, some other disgruntled GA pilots around the country managed to kick up enough fuss to get a segment on the news about it.

This article below is from ONE News, with the full video as seen on TV, available here: tvnz.co.nz/national-news/user-pays-forecasts-safety-risk-say-pilots

"Recreational pilots fear plans to charge for aviation weather forecasts will lead to more accidents and deaths.

The MetFlight service is used by nearly 6000 pilots of small craft, but at the end of the month the free service turns user pays.

With around one in five accidents weather related, there are fears that user pays will mean that some pilots will put costs before safety.

Pilot Steve Perreau told ONE News that pilots need more information than what they can get from free forecasts."We need to know about wind and layers ... turbulence, icing".

Sponsorship of Metflight had come from the Civil Aviation Authority. But the CAA says the sponsorship was only a temporary measure to get the service up and running. The service will still be available on a user pays basis with an annual subscription fee of $95 plus GST.

Bill Sommers of CAA says "aviation safety is an individual responsibility" and it's up to pilots to pay for proper forecasts.
But Perreau fears that without proper forecasts everyone's safety is at risk. The New Zealand Aviation Federation says there are hundreds of pilots who say they won't pay, instead opting to rely on anecdotal reports or general forecasts.

While Perreau is willing to pay the fee others question why they should be charged when boaties and trampers get free forecasts. But with out sponsorship Metservice says it is under no obligation to provide free aviation forecasts."

18 July 2011

Flying the C162 Skycatcher

I was very fortunate enough to be offered a test flight in the country's first brand new Cessna C162 Skycatcher on Sunday. This wasn't just for pleasure, as I was trialing out its handling characteristics for a review due to be published in the August edition of the New Zealand Aviation News.

Whilst I mustn't give too much away, I'll happily admit it was a great deal of fun to fly with it's great power to weight ratio. The flight included some air to air photography, formation flying with a turbine powered Robinson R66. John King, the editor of the publication has release this photo of us over the Wairoa River mouth as a teaser:

The rest of these snaps are provided by Colin Hunter, our man on the ground at Ardmore capturing the pre flight, taxi and circuit bashing elements of the test flight. He retains copyright to their usage.

15 July 2011

Frost Point

Caught this on the Christchurch METAR last night:

A negative dew point- the first time I've seen one, not that I've been actively searching for it. I guess this means that if the ambient air temperature reached minus 1°C, frost would form on the hygroscopic nuclei rather than dew.

The weather's been real ratty over the whole country over the last week and a half. I haven't managed one flight this month. In fact, I've only visited Ardmore once since June for a mountain flying ground course, which I'll elaborate on at a later date. 

Today is meant to be the last of the crap weather, with '+SHRAGS' appearing on the TAF between 2 and 4pm. The hail from which actually set off my car alarm! All going to plan, I'll have something a little more exciting to report upon on Sunday.

13 July 2011

Strikemaster Cockpit Video

Here's a repost an awesome in-cockpit video recorded by Andrew Hope, that's been circulating round the web these last few days. The content of which is Strikemaster 70 on a recent flight from AR-WP-AR. Really makes you want to go and get a type rating!

There are heaps more in cockpit vids from various aircraft on Andrew's youtube channel, well worth checking out at: youtube.com/user/Citabria70   

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

Skyhawk for Ardmore

As mentioned in the Skyhawk NZ6254 Photos post, the government has decided that the latex wrapped A4 Skyhawk fleet sitting at Woodbourne would be split up and donated to various air museums around the country. 

On July 6th, Defense Minister Wayne Mapp said three more A4's will be going to the New Zealand Warbirds Association at Ardmore, Ashburton Aviation Museum and the Warbirds over Wanaka centre down in Otago. As touched on here, Aermacchi jets are also bound for the Air Force Museum at Wigram, the George Hood Aviation Museum in Masterton, and MOTAT in Auckland.

Skyhawk #6209 is the airframe destined for us at Ardmore, which Trevor Bland (the inaugural NZ Warbirds president) has that recorded flight time with in his log book. 

© Gavin Conroy
This particular variant is an A4-K, due to be sent up from the South Island via road which will cost a substantial amount. Donations can be made to: 'NZ Aviation Heritage Trust', C/- NZ Warbirds, Private Bag 14, Ardmore Airport, Papakura 2110. 

The NZ Warbirds have also asked anyone interested in getting involved with the team looking after this awesome new aircraft to please e-mail nzwarbirds@paradise.net.nz or call 09 296 1535 to register your interest. 

It will be displayed as a static ground exhibit at the Warbirds Visitor Centre, down Harvard Lane, minus it's engine which is under a separate sale agreement. A date for arrival is yet to be confirmed from the Airforce, but the NZ Warbirds will widely advertise as soon as it is ready for public display. Watch this space!

11 July 2011

Bye Bye Royal Brunei

Royal Brunei Airlines has announced that they are suspending their services from Auckland after the last flight on the 29th October 2011. My completely uneducated guess is new cheaper low cost airlines such as Air Asia X have stolen a large chunk of thier 'back packer' market and they've had to pull out, like Garuda Indonesia did in 2007.

This is a shame, as I flew with them to London and back in 2008 on my gap year between high school and AFS. They were the cheapest airline out there at NZ$2500 return, including day stop in Bandar Seri Begawan on the island of Borneo each way.

In commemoration of the good times I've experienced with RB, here are some snaps from my big OE adventure whilst traveling on board one of their Boeing 767's en route from NZAA to WBSB. These are followed by some photos the capital city of Brunei Darussalam and Kampong Ayer water village, a whole world away from life in suburban Auckland!

Vintage Corsair Photos

After watching two Battle of Britain documentaries on TV over the weekend, my interest in WW2 fighters has suddenly reawakened!

I also recently stumbled across a really awesome set of black and white 1940's photographs of RNZAF Corsair fighters. These are all from the Marcus Bridle Collection, reposted here with his permission. Thanks Marcus!

According to wiki, 424 Corsairs equipped 13 RNZAF squadrons (including 10 Pacific based squadrons). In total there were 237 F4U-1s and 127 F4U-1Ds used by the RNZAF during the Second World War, with a further 60 arriving post war.

They were mainly used to support of American, Australian and New Zealand soldiers fighting the Japanese. The Corsair had poor forward visability and tendency to ground loop, but pilots were trained in making curved approaches before operating from rough and ready forward airbases.

At the end of 1945, all Corsair squadrons bar No. 14 were disbanded. That last squadron was based in Japan, until the Corsair was retired from service in 1947. Further reading can be done here.

The photos below show RNZAF Corsair's based at Ardmore during WW2. The bombing range in photo #3 is recognizably our local low flying zone (L266). A few of the shots show Corsairs from the Pacific bases and the derelict airframes at Rukuhia at what is now Hamilton International Airport. Seems a massive shame that they were all scraped- guess the priority back then wasn't preservation of military equipment for future generations, that sort of foresight just wouldn't have existed... Enjoy!

09 July 2011

Private Aermacchi

According to the Wairarapa Times-Age newspaper, an ex Royal New Zealand Air Force's Aermacchi MB-339CB from 14 Squadron has been donated/sold to the George Hood Museum of Masterton airdrome!

The article linked above states the Aermacchi will 'roar over Wairarapa as part of airshows and Wings Over Wairarapa', presumably joining the nationwide circuit of performing aircraft and appearing at events such as Wanaka, and maybe even Tauranga City Airshow on 28th and 29th of January 2012.

The TG show is already being planned, with Classic Flyers expecting to have an ex RNZAF Skyhawk on display, and hopefully displays by the new RNZN NH90 chopper, the Martin Jetpack and the worlds only flying De Havilland Mosquito (currently under restoration at Ardmore)! 

See the official website here and yesterdays press release here.

05 July 2011

Christchurch RED ZONE Flights

Saw this on the news this evening: HELiPRO down in Christchurch are offering scenic flights of the cordoned off Red Zone part of the CBD for $145. Of this, $25 goes to the The Kate Barron Trust, an account set up for a PGC Building employee who was trapped for 12 hours and had both legs amputated. Definitely a good cause, click the logo below for more info and to book a flight.

I couldn't find the link which featured in flight footage from the 3news website, however, an older video from February shows the destruction visible from the air: http://www.3news.co.nz/Latest-helicopter-video-from-Christchurch-quake-zone

01 July 2011

CPL Fail

Not the greatest news. Long story short: I've been told by various instructors that I was ready for my CPL Flight Test since April. It kept getting pushed back and back due to poor weather and inconsistent flight bookings until the school found out that as of the 1st of July (today), CPL candidates will need 10 hours mountain flying before they can sit the test. 

All of a sudden there was a big rush to push students though, and four of us got squeezed in the last two days of June. All the flight maneuvers we'd been training for over the last year were to be assessed with a flight with an examiner- either being graded 85% +, 70% +, or Not Yet Competent. You get a maximum of 3 things you can get wrong the first time and try again, however, certain maneuvers (defined as 'Critical Aspects'), such as simulated Forced Landings, you only get one shot at. I passed everything bar my Precautionary Landing. Seeing as that was a critical element, the examiner had to fail me unfortunately.

I was not the only one who didn't pass. Three of the four students this week received the same result which sucks big time. The examiner who flew with most of us is a well known guy in NZ circles with over 10,000 hours under his belt and is a real stickler for precision. Just the luck of the draw I suppose.

Anyhow, I'm not going to cry over split milk, and will hopefully resit the flight again soon once I've built up the mountain flying hours which can be done in the local Hunua Ranges. The flight tester bloke was very decent about the whole thing in the debrief, repeatedly saying he would have loved to pass me but has to follow his rule book which is understandable. In my defense, the phase of the flight where he asked me to do the precautionary landing was over unfamiliar terrain. I'd only practiced precautionary landings a total of five times ever previously, compared to the hundreds of times of max-rate turns for example, and was expecting to be tested on it out over the flat paddocks of the G272 training area where I flew daily. 

It was Murphy's Law of course that on the way back to Ardmore at the end of about 1.5 hours worth of flight test, that I was asked to descend in for low flying in a narrow valley with two sets of power lines running up each side to make the forced landing with power. As I wasn't familiar with the area, I picked a pretty poor paddock with a few fences running through it, arguing that the aircraft should be able to cut through them on landing and probably suffer some minor damage- rather than picking a more suitable location. I didn't notice an upsloping agricultural strip climbing out the southern end of the valley until we were on climb out from my short field approach and the examiner pointed it out.

I was fairly certain I'd failed at that point, but thought I still had a chance, so carried on with a positive attitude, joined over head and for a precision landing. The wind on the day was a South Easterly which is fairly uncommon in the upper North Island. So uncommon in fact that it generated rarely seen lenticular clouds over the Clevedon Valley, which I pointed out and explained to the examiner en route.

Bearing in mind it was a Runway 21 day, I had a tailwind on base leg which isn't preferable for slowing down to 70 knots and lowering flap, as an early turn onto finals needs to be made to prevent from overshooting the centreline. I didn't loose enough speed and ended up too high and fast on final approach and made the decision to go around for another shot. I extended downwind on my second attempt, closing the throttle earlier, and pulled off an 85% + landing on the marking sheet which I was happy with. However, he called it a full stop landing as time was running late, which I immediately knew confined a flight test failure, as I never got to demonstrate the flapless landing which is part of the CPL syllabus.

So yeah, pretty gutted at the result but not much I can do now apart from learn from my mistakes. It's slightly comforting knowing that I'm not alone in not passing and over half of my classmates from the CPL theories days also failed on their first attempts. 

On another note, I was actually quite proud/shocked at how well I'd flown the rest of the test before the the previously mentioned events. The day before when I'd gone for my final practice, my balance and altitude holding had been terrible with 33knots wind at 2000 feet. During my test though, I'd miraculously remained in balance, held my height and made all my stalls and turns within CPL limits (+/- 50 feet). My first max rate to left was pretty shifty but I was allowed to redo it, and aced it. Also under the IF hood, the examiner asked me to redo a climbing stall turn as my check forward in the recovery wasn't as brisk as he'd liked. No worries there the second time. I was a ball of nerves on my PPL flight test but was definitely calm and collected yesterday- the examiner even said he'd help me find a job if I needed him too once I actually qualified!

Next post I'll write down some of the questions I can remember being asked in the ground work part of the flight test which will hopefully help another pilots with tests of their own coming up.