29 August 2011

Hurricane Irene

This isn't particularly a story from the sky, or even to do with New Zealand, but never the less, tropical cyclones have always interested me.

On Sunday 28th August, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey suspended incoming flights at it's five metropolitan airports, including KJFK due to the approaching Hurricane Irene. Coastal suburbs were placed under mandatory evacuation, with over 300,000 people moving to higher ground due to the threat of 410 mm forecast rainfall combined with rising seawater levels from the storm surge.

This TAF from yesterday shows winds of between 60 and 75 knots forecast, along with heavy rain and overcast clouds as low as 500 feet. The incredible photo below is from a family member in New York and shows what these OVC500 clouds actually looked like as they approached:

However, this storm wasn't as intense as Tropical Cyclone Yasi which hit Queensland earlier in the year, although it had much more destructive potential due to its slower moving speed and tracked path over one of the most densely populated areas on the planet!

Remarkably though, it failed to cause as much damage as predicted (most likely media scare mongering) and so far, only 15 lives have been reported to have been lost, although 4 million in the North Eastern USA are still without power.

26 August 2011

C162 Demonstration Tour

Time for another slideshow- this time, featuring photos of Cessna Skycatcher ZK-DNA on it's recent nationwide demonstration tour. All the images are courtesy of test pilot Nicola Evans, who I flew with in July, and make for excellent promotional material!

Along with Chris Barry from Flightline, the two of them visited Tauranga, Gisbourne, Hastings, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown to name a few places. During the weekend of the heavy snow storm, the pair were both stuck in ZQN, resulting in some pretty amazing photos from around the Wakatipu Aero Club. Thanks for allowing me to share these team!

25 August 2011

West Auckland Airport

I took my girlfriend to Parakai airfield (aka West Auckland Airport) on Tuesday to give her my birthday present, a tandem skydive from 13,000 feet with Blue Skies Skydiving.

I'd done one myself from around 12,000 feet with NZ Skydive down at Mercer a few years back and enjoyed it to the max; however, that company is now defunct after the owners went bankrupt, resulting in the closure of NZME.

Anyhow, seeing as I didn't have a flying school C172 booked for the day, we had to drive over there instead. I'd flown in once before on a Northern cross country and found it to be a very pleasant little aerodrome with a nice smooth 760m sealed runway. I couldn't find any photos of my own, but have pinched the one below from the official airport website, www.parakaiairfield.co.nz

The jumpship aircraft owned by the company is Cessna 182P, ZK-KAL. A nice grunty tricycle wheeled model, compared to the older tailwheel 185 that I did my jump from. According to a few meatbomb pilots I've talked to recently, -CMW is now stuck in boggy mud, sitting unserviceable at the Haruru Falls airstip in the Bay of Islands.

Anyhow, here are a few snaps from Tuesday. I fully recommend Blue Skies if you're considering a skydive in the Auckland area. Real friendly staff, views from West Coast to the East Coast up above the aerodrome, and hot pools just down the road to relax at after the jump. My girlfriend loved it!

RWC Updates

As today's Trigger NOTAM would have reminded you, the next AIRAC AIP Supplement is now effective. Inside that supplement booklet, on pages 40 and 41, are all the notices relevant to the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Firstly, over Eden Park, a temporary restricted area has been established to 'facilitate safety of large public events'- namely the semi final and final games of the tournament due to be played at the venue. This will be activated via NOTAM between 1200 NZST on the 9th September, to 0000 NZDT on October 24th.

There is also a load of info about restricted parking spaces and unscheduled GA operations at Auckland, Whangarei, New Plymouth, Wellington and Nelson airports due to the upcoming large increase in bizjet traffic.

I've heard unconfirmed rumors that expected executive traffic figures are being based on the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa. The FBO at Johannersburg handled 163 separate aircraft and over 1400 total VIP movements throughout the tournament period, however, with NZ being much more isolated than the African nation (and rugby not being as popular worldwide as footy), I doubt numbers will be anything like that. It will be interesting to see if we receive any weird and wonderful foreign aircraft over at little ole' Ardmore!

24 August 2011

Dunedin Photos

After 4 flight cancellations due to the worst weather the country has seen in decades, my better half and I enjoyed a short break in Dunedin last week. We've got hundreds of non aviation related photos which I'm thinking of adding a selection of to a new 'Travel' page on this blog. This will be along with a few other holiday 'non aviation' image collections, which I'll put into slideshow format perhaps next week if I have time.

For the time being however, here are a bundle of point-and-shoot pix from the departure lounge at NZDN from last Thursday. Captions aren't exactly required, but the ANZ 737 in the 7th and 8th shots was our ride home. Enjoy!

22 August 2011

More NH90 Photos

Some more snaps of NZ3301, the Royal New Zealands Airforce's first NH90, have been released publicly from Europe. Not much is known on the images, other than the blokes in the orange suits are Eurocopter crew, and  the guys in green are the RNZAF pilots/crew.

The first batch of publicity shots, released back in March, can be found here.

There will a trickle of new posts all popping up here over the next few days. The reason for no activity over the last week and a half is due to me having been away on two separate trips to the South Island, and working lots in between. I've got a backlog of thoughts and photos that need sharing, so as always, watch this space!

Also, if you like to access this blog through your mobile device, a special phone friendly quick loading version of the website can now be found at http://ardmorepilot.blogspot.com/?m=1

11 August 2011

On the Cover

As mentioned in the previous update, here's a copy of this months New Zealand Aviation News, featuring yours truly on the front cover. I'm the one in the lefthand seat wearing the David Clark headset:

Look out in September's edition for Part One of my multi-issue article series on the new mandatory Mountain Flying syllabus. I've recently began the terrain awareness course at AFS and am enjoying it all so far- it's much more immersive than the same old repetitive turning and stalling revision out in the training area... although I mustn't give too much away ;)

09 August 2011

Skycatcher Air to Airs

The following images of me in Flightline Ltd.'s demonstration Cessna 162 Skycatcher are courtesy of Greg Quinn, from the promo formation flight we did together on the 17th July.

Greg, from Auckland Aero Club, was one of two photographers on board Robinson R66 ZK-ISS snapping air to air shots for the August issue of the New Zealand Aviation News of which I've written an article about this aircraft in. You can see my mug on the front cover along with my review of the Skycatcher from a student pilots perspective, on the center fold pages 14 and 15. The newspaper costs just $5.50 (a bargain compared to imported foreign aviation literature) and can be found for sale at local magazine rack or at www.aviationnews.co.nz.

Many thanks to Greg, a reader of this blog, for providing these crystal clear images. There are potentially more to follow from the other photographer, and editor of the paper, pending his permission. Watch this space!

08 August 2011

Sky Challenge Air Race

There's been a lot of internet chatter about Sky Challenge International over the last few days, since they unveiled their new virtual air racing concept to the world at the 2011 Oshkosh Airshow.

From the sounds of it, the New Zealand based company's idea is to create a virtual air race track, with the course and checkpoints displayed on a screen inside a 'real life' aerobatic aircraft. The movements of the real aircraft in flight will be transmitted through the internet to other virtual race pilots who will be flying from ground based flight simulators, along side. If either type of pilots miss a checkpoint, the course for him or her will be automatically updated, to make the following checkpoint gate a little further away either vertically or horizontally than their opponent, to increase the element of competition.

Large outdoor screens in the host cities will display both the real and virtual aircraft side by side for the crowd to watch from grandstands, with all the mass global coverage and sponsorship fan fare that comes with likes of the Red Bull Air Race. The big difference that Sky Challenge are marketing is the extra thrill of seeing multiple aircraft on the screen in close proximity, similar to that of Formula 1 car racing, rather than the singular time trial style flights from the Red Bull format. A short documentary explaining the whole concept can be seen on the videos page of the www.skychallenge.com website.

Another demo video below shows Auckland as the host city. Apparently the first event will occur somewhere in the Middle East in 2012, will be interesting to see how popular it becomes!

03 August 2011

Super Air Photos

Whilst trawling through my old harddrive yesterday, I came across this set of top dressing photos I'd had emailed to me from the Super Air promo department a few years ago.

As of January 2007, they had a fleet of 22 Fletcher FU-24 aircraft operating from the Waiarapara to Northland. Most of the aircraft were resident at the airfields in Dargarville, Kerikeri, Maungaturoto, Pukekohe East, Raglan, Thames, Tauranga, Rotorua, Te Kuiti, Otorohanga, New Plymouth, Taupo and Masterton. The current fleet at that time was ZK-BHG, BXS, CBA, CCT, CKA, CML CQB, CRY, DUJ, DZM, DZO, EFM, EGS, EGV, EGW, EME, EMW, EMX, JAA, JLU, JNX, and LTQ.