25 August 2013

Night Current

As an excuse to upload this long exposure photo above, I may as well also mention that I recently became night current again. This occurred following an after dark visit to Ardmore with a photography friend that reminded me it had been well in excess of 90 days since I had made three take off and three landings after ECT!

However, I only managed to achieve one circuit at Ardmore with a B Cat beside me in a 172, as just as we'd lined up on runway 03, another aircraft in the downwind advised us low cloud was spreading below the 1300 foot night circuit altitude. The B Cat decided to give it a bash anyway, and I ended up levelling off closer to the daytime circuit height of 1100 feet, although still managed to pull off a half decent landing to get the tick.

When the wx improves, I'll start chipping away at some more night time flights with what's left of my student loan as I still need 14.3 night hours before meeting Air NZ's minimum requirements!

23 August 2013

Ardmore Restricted Airspace

Something for fellow pilots flying VFR in to Ardmore on 03 days, and departing to the south on 21 days next month is NZR294. The temporary airspace restriction is detailed below, and can also be found in the latest AIP Supplement effective as of August 22nd.

Edit: Video of the Transpower UAV's in action now online here

20 August 2013

My MEIR Story

I managed to be able to sit and pass my MEIR initial issue flight test at the end of July, and now I can finally say that I'm legal to go and fly a twin engine aeroplane in cloud. The process took a lengthy three months in total to complete- which was Ardmore Flying School's idea of "fast tracking" students like myself who already have a single engine instrument rating. I obtained my SEIR June of 2012 before taking some time off to fly parachute drop aircraft full time up until April of this year. 

Disregarding the fact that I had to take an eight month sabbatical from my flight training, it still took me four years in total from my first flight in a C172, to obtaining my multi engine instrument rating at AFS. And out of the sixteen students who started the pilot license ground course with me in 2009, only four others of them have obtained an MEIR to date, with just seven of us making it as far as a CPL.

In 2012, the majority of the schools twin engine rated instructors left to work elsewhere, leaving a waiting list of 100+ students who were ready for MEIR training. This led to AFS having to request past instructors, now working in airline positions, to come in on their days off and take on some students part time.

Since my original single engine instrument rating was due to lapse in June of this year, I made sure I phoned the school at least every two weeks during the summer to remind them of my situation, and request that an instructor could be organised for me when I returned to Auckland at the beginning of April. It wasn't until May 7th that I was finally assigned one- a 737 pilot on sick leave with a broken leg, to run a series of ground simulations in the school's Frasca TruFlite trainer to get me current for the cross country IFR flights in the Duchess aircraft.

Up until this day, I'd been told that like every other student that had done the SEIR to MEIR process, it would be done using the same two navigation aids from our initial instrument rating, the VOR and GPS. However, on my very first briefing with the new instructor, I was told that actually I was to be trained for all four navigation aids, including an NDB and ILS endorsement as well.

I was buddied up with another student who had the same ratings as myself, so that in the simulator, we could co-pilot for each other seeing as the school had also made the decision this year to only train students for a two pilot ratings, rather than single pilot rating. We were given six alternating simulator sessions each that took until the end of May to finish.

Our sim instructor then passed the two of us over to one of the full time B cat instructors, and told us to ride in the backseat during each other's Duchess flights to observe and learn whilst the buddy was at the controls. It was 25 more days before I was given my first flight booking, even though I'd made myself available full time without any other weekday commitments as requested by the school. To prioritise my MEIR flying, I even un-enrolled from the school's ATPL ground courses that the admin staff had suggested I start.

It turned out that AFS had recently established an IFR cross country flight syllabus set in place for students making the SEIR to MEIR conversion, which is goes follows:
Flight 1: AR-HN-AR (NDB, VOR, GPS)
Flight 2: AR-GB-WP-AR (NDB, VOR, GPS)
Flight 3: AR-GB-WP-AR (NBD, GPS, ILS)
Flight 4: AR-HN-WP-AR (NDB, ILS, GPS)
Flight 5: AR-WP-GB-AR (VOR, ILS, NDB, GPS)

02 August 2013

C182 Meat Bombing

When the weather has been fine, I have continued to fly the parachute drop aircraft up in Whangarei at the weekends.

Back at the beginning of June, my younger brother surprised his girlfriend with a tandem skydive voucher and came up from Auckland with her to watch the jump. As a second surprise to him, my parents also made the journey and up revealed once everyone was at the dropzone together, that he'd also be going up for a skydive at the same time, as an early 21st present!

I've posted plenty of photos and videos from inside the cockpit from the Ballistic Blondes planes, but for this blog update I've got some ground based photos of the aircraft and passengers that my Dad snapped whilst I was at the controls.

30th July Diversions

Tuesday 30th July was a busy day for air traffic controllers in New Zealand.

A combination of early morning fog and a B737 with jammed breaks on the runway at Auckland caused 28 regional flights to be cancelled and numerous diversions, including a Cathay Pacific A340 to Ohakea, a Fiji Airways B737 into Wellington, and the twin Emirates A380's from Australia into Christchurch!

NZAA was closed to landing aircraft for approximately an hour from 11.50am when a Jetconnect 737-800, ZK-ZQH, landing from Sydney experienced a brake lockup and became stuck in position on high speed exit Alpha 6, with it's tail sticking out onto active runway 23L/05R.

From twitter user @H_Davison
From Robert Kitchin, Fairfax NZ
The flightradar24 website must have had a sudden surge in traffic from NZ aviation geeks too, with plenty of screen captures posted on social media such as this one below, showing a Malaysian Airlines 777's holding pattern over the city, before diverting towards NZOH, and then making a U turn back to NZAA again as the runway was reopened:

Cantarbians got to witness the first arrival of not one, but two Airbus A380's to the South Island, with NZCH based aviation photographer Matt Hayes capturing some excellent photographs of the super jumbo whilst it was briefly on the ground for a refuel.

Just prior to 3pm, both A380's then continued up to Auckland, also marking the first domestic sector ever flown by the aircraft type in our country. Ardmore based pilots later observed the distinctive shape of the Emirates aircraft passing overhead the airfield in controlled airspace, on the approach into NZAA from the south.