20 August 2012

Taranaki Bound

I was asked a week and a half a go whether I could put my multi engine type rating and instrument conversion on hold for a few months, and then move down to New Plymouth. The reason behind this is the parachute drop company that I work for had received approval to start operating from a dropzone that Skydive Taranaki had been using up untill May of this year when Part 115 came into effect.

Long story short- I quit my week day job, made sure it was ok with my flying school to take a break and secure my student loan funding for the future, then packed my bags. The other company pilot took our C172 down over the weekend whilst I stayed in Auckland for my girlfriends birthday, but as Monday, I'm now calling NZNP my temporary home base.

A major difference will be dropping the skydivers into a controlled aerodrome landing area, where as at Whangaeri, the only section of controlled airspace we ever entered was above 9500 ft.

I'm not sure how frequent, if any, my blog updates will be from now on either- although I do hope to pop up on Air NZ staff travel to do the occasional flight at Ardmore if the opportunities arises. Watch this space!

15 August 2012

Most Exhilarating Flight of my Life

After harping on about the Ardmore based Strikemaster quite a few times on my blog, I was fortunate enough to actually go for a flight in the ex military beast yesterday. It was tee'd up with the NZ Aviation News, for me to write a review the joyride product that Strikemaster Ltd are now offered under their recently acquired Part 115 certificate.

Needless to say, it was the most exhilarating flight of my life. 280+ knots in a jet fighter, 4G loops and rolls, low flying through the mountains... Yeah, there's not really much I need to add to that- the video below summaries the day pretty well actually!

A massive thanks to Brett Nicholls, the owner of NZ6370, Andrew Hope, long time friend and pilot in the left hand seat, and John King, the editor of the NZ Aviation News. Look out my my article in the September issue at your local magazine shop. 

Below are some nice wide angle snaps from my new GoPro HD Hero2 which I'm planning on using a lot more in the future whilst flying. Yep. Awesome. Cheers!

07 August 2012

Tongariro Eruption

The 11.50pm eruption of Mount Tongariro has been widely reported in the media all day long today. This can be followed here. I'm not going to rehash everything that's already been said by the mainstream journo's, but instead just add a little behind the scenes aviation related info to the web.

Firstly, to update the last post, here's what the IFIS (Internet Flight Information Service) and GeoNet websites had to say this afternoon:

In layman's terms, the size of the temporary volcanic hazard zone (NZV312) has been increased from a circle with a 3 mile radius to a circle with an 8nm radius of Tongairo's summit. The upper limit has been expanded from 9500ft AMSL to FL150 (15,000ft AMSL), very close to multiple domestic IFR flight tracks which caused plenty of air traffic routing diversions today. The above NOTAM also indicates that pilots overflying the area must report the location of observed volcanic ash or associated volcanic activity to the CAA.

The red circle on the map below indicates this amended VHZ, with the blue circle showing the size of NZV312 when it was originally formed on 20th July.

Domestic flights bound to and originating from airports such as Napier, Gisborne, Taupo and Rotorua were all cancelled this morning, due to the ash cloud being blown to the east across the island. A few airports did manage to resume operations later in the day, however, Hawkes Bay Airport (NZNR) still remains shut to scheduled commercial traffic.

© Fairfax NZ
Today was the first time I've seen 'Aviation Colour Code: Red' issued (although as of 8:30pm it has been reduced to Aviation Colour Code: Orange), and also the first time I've noticed this unusual remark under the significant weather section of the Napier airport Met Information:

Whilst I find this all very fascinating to me- a disturbance of the earth beyond anybody's control- thousands of people involved with the New Zealand aviation industry where disrupted from their expected routines today due to this act of nature. At this stage, the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center have forecast for the ash plume to continue off shore in a steady easterly direction and operations should soon return to normal.

Of course, further eruptions have not been ruled out, and the reality of that happening could pose much more of a hazard to everyone in New Zealand aviation. The fine volcanic
ash particles are not
turbine blade, windscreen or fuselage friendly and have potential to cause significant damage if inadvertently encountered.

I'll summarise this post with a quote I heard this morning. "Given the lifespan of the volcano, something is bound to happen again sooner or later. It could be after lunch, or it could be in 300 years... I wouldn't waste my time sitting in front of the TV waiting for it to happen".

05 August 2012

Kauri Coast Skydive Carnival

The parachute drop company that I fly for are holding a 3 day skydiving event out at Ruawai aerodrome (NZRW) next weekend. We flew over a couple of weeks back to plan it out with the local Otamatea Aero Club boys who were extremely enthusiastic about having us to stay. It should be a great few days if the weather holds off- more details can be found here!