01 February 2013

Back to the Naki, briefly

For nine days between the 12th Jan and the 19th Jan, the company had booked in a load of tandem customers to come skydiving with us, so it was back to New Plymouth for the C172, me, and two other crew members. 

Conditions were perfect for radiation fog formation right across the upper North Island on the Saturday morning that I was due to fly JIB on the 200 odd mile ferry flight from Whangarei to New Plymouth, and if I’d taken off any later, I would have probably been boxed in till well after midday! 

Fortunately, the low level of cloud was only topping 300 or 400ft, and I was able to nip above it before it became a total 8/8 blanket. I requested and was permitted controlled VFR, right over the top of Auckland International Airport at nonstandard 6000ft on track for NP via Raglan. It took me 2.1 on the hobbs meter, finally landing just before 10am. I’d barley seen any identifiable landmarks enroute until we hit the Taranaki coastline, where it became perfectly clear with light winds- very pleasant. I then logged a further 4.2 hours parachute dropping that day over the beautiful mountain scenery up all the way until dusk.

The cloud channel carved by a 777 departing from NZAA below
On Sunday 13th, we only managed to put up four loads as it had begun clouding in ahead of a large cold front that was due to pass the following day. It turned out that heavy rain and strong winds stuck around longer than expected and kept us grounded right up until the Friday evening, so time was passed watching movies, flying kites, visiting cafes and playing pool instead. 

Come the weekend, the weather turned fine again and I was able to fly 10 more high altitude loads before ferrying JIB home to Northland on Sunday evening, this time with a pleasant 30 knot tailwind cutting the flight time down to just 1.7 hours! 

Highlights of the trip included: Seeing the mountain, the city, and the coastline completely free of cloud on the Saturday we arrived. Viewing all three out at once is fairly rare from the time I’ve spent dropping down there, and this photo I shot below from 12,000ft was picked up by the ‘Taranaki: Like No Other’ facebook page. 

The Wings Over Wairarapa airshow fell on the 2nd weekend we were in town, and whilst low cloud prevented us from flying, it didn’t stop the locally based four ship Yak 52 formation team, or the two de Havilland Vampires and L-39 Albatross from rehearsing their routine almost daily right in front of the dropzone. I didn’t bother trying to get any airborne photos with my iPhone or GoPro, but being able to see the aircraft up close and chat with the pilots definitely made up for me not being able to attend the actual show! 

Also, one of our regular sport skydivers- Tony Willis, completed his 100th skydive during our visit. It’s tradition in skydiving circles to do this in minimal clothing, and is also known as the ‘Undie Hundy’. The pic below is self-explanatory…

And finally here are a few misc iPhone snaps from the flight back to WR, over the Auckland region from nonstandard 5000ft:

Auckland International Airport

East Auckland, looking towards Half Moon Bay

Countryside carve up at Long Bay

Whangaparaoa Peninsula