26 October 2011

MOTAT Skyhawk

The Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology, locally known as MOTAT, is due to receive it's first RNZAF Skyhawk fighter jet from Woodbourne this Friday.

The NZ6206 airframe has recently been disassembled to fit onto separate trucks and transported by ferry and road some 600km up the North Island to be put on display.

Between the 28th and 30th October, visitors to MOTAT's newly opened multi million dollar Aviation Display Hall have the chance to see the Skyhawk being assembled in public, with a team from the RNZAF on hand to answer any questions from the public. An interesting fact to note is that NZ6206 was the only RNZAF Skyhawk to have a fired a shot in anger. 

Gavin Conroy of Classic Aviation Photography down in Blenhiem caught these images of the aircraft just before it departed on its long journey yesterday:

I hope to go have a geeze myself when I get some free time over the summer. Read more info on MOTAT's website here.

19 October 2011

787 Dreamliner to visit Auckland

Air New Zealand will play host to the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner test aircraft at its engineering base at Auckland International Airport from November 12th - 14th.

This was announced today in the Herald and is big news in NZ, being the first of it's kind to make the visit down under. I expect the three day stay will prove a good test to see how the airport is capable of handling this new type of aircraft, with Air NZ having ordered eight 787-9s back in 2004.

Theses 789s are a stretched variant of the 788, with a longer fuselage, higher seating capacity, range and maximum take-off weight, yet still with the same 60m wingspan as the 788.

Air New Zealand is the launch customer of the 789, originally expected to be put into service late 2010. However technical delays involving 'construction and fabrication techniques' have now put delivery of the first airframe back until late 2013, with All Nippon Airways only receiving delivery of the first 788 last month!

If the exact arrival time of the test aircraft from Seattle is made public- I'll do my best to share it here. Stuff.co.nz reports it will make a low pass over the CBD so it will most likley be in daylight hours. I'm sure dozens of plane spotters will be out to capture it whilst on our shores anyhow.

Another big announcement today was that Air NZ is spending $340mill on 12 new ATR72-600 for its regional service. The first two are expected to arrive from France in October and December 2012. More deets here.

14 October 2011

Vintage Fly By This Sunday

TO THE SKIES: A special commemoration of the flying feats of Jean Batten is held this Sunday. Photo supplied.

VINTAGE aircraft are taking to the skies to mark the 75th anniversary of a pioneering aviator’s record-breaking flight.

A formation of planes are assembling at Ardmore Airport this Sunday to commemorate the day that pilot Jean Batten completed the first direct flight from England to New Zealand.

The aircrafts, including a Percival monoplane like Jean’s, a Dragon airliner and de Havilland Moths, come together at the airport at 11am.

At 1.15pm, the formation takes off and flies westward along the shoreline from Maraetai to Howick, Eastern Beach and Musick Point, then along the waterfront from St Heliers to Kohimarama and Mission Bay.

Aviation enthusiasts at the Viaduct Basin can look skyward at 2pm to catch a glimpse of the planes before they continue on to Point Chevalier and Te Atatu. At 3pm, the Percival monoplane will fly above the

Kiwi icon’s statue outside Auckland International Airport’s Jean Batten Terminal.

For more information on the anniversary flight, email clapshaws@xtra.co.nz, or phone (09) 576-9099.

13 October 2011

Astrolabe Reef No Fly Zone

The only thing in the news this week, apart from the rugby of course, is the stranding of MV Rena that ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef last Tuesday. Since then, the hull has cracked open and the 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of marine diesel on board have began leaking out into the ocean, creating a 5km long oil slick. 

© Andrew Gorrie / Dominion Post
Oil and containers have already began washing up along the Mt Maunganui coastline, creating New Zealand's "worst ever environmental disaster" according Environment Minister Nick Smith. 

The CAA have created a no fly zone around the vessel whilst helicopter aerial sprayers attempted to diffuse the oil slick. News choppers have also been operating heavily in the area, footage from which can be seen here.
The zoomable map below shows the NZR288 in red, roughly 14nm north east of Tauranga City.

View Rena No Fly Zone in a larger map

On a personal note, I've now been moved on to instructor #7 at AFS whilst the guy I was training with before has gone off to teach C Cat school. The rough spring weather has kept me grounded on all my days off this week, so here's hoping for better luck next in the next few days...

Also, Part 1 of my Mountain Flying article series (from the September issue of NZ Aviation News) can now be read online at their website. Part 2 is due to be published next month!

03 October 2011

Cover #2

The October issue of the NZ Aviation News is out, with my mug on the front cover again. I reviewed the Tecnam P2008 which can be found on the centrefold pages this time around.

Reviewing aircraft for a magazine I've been a regular reader of for many years was something I never saw coming but am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to do so. Next month my final Mountain Flying article will also be published in the NZ Avaition News.

I've completed all the new terrain awareness lessons needed as a pre requisite to sitting a CPL flight test, and am now just brushing up on my handling skills before booking a date in theory. My instructor took me up for some max rate and steep turns on Thursday and after a few practices, said my manoeuvres were all still within limits of passing.

In the mean time, I've had a minor operation on my foot and the doctor has ordered a few days rest whilst it heals (ie, not stamping on rudder pedals). During this time, on a new computer system I recently purchased, I've been exploring the virtual New Zealand skies in Flight Simulator X. You can have a look at some screenshots from my little tiki tour featuring addon expansion packs to make NZ look as realistic as possible here. I'll probably compile them into a slide show in Picasa once I'm done.