21 November 2013

Ardmore Open Day (Nov 24th)

Ardmore Airport is also opening it's gates to the public this coming Sunday for a special 75 Years of Harvards airshow. 

Nelson Airshow

Nelson Airport is celebrating it's 75th anniversery with an open day for the public on the 30th November.

The RNZAF Red Checkers will be performing at both 10.30am and 3.15pm, along with the Avro Anson and Nanchang mentioned in the flyer above. 22 other aircraft will be on display, including some local classics.

Sadly this will also be the last chance for members of the public to catch a flight on Southern DC-3 ZK-AMY before the aircraft is put on permanent static display at the Ashburton Aviation Museum. Scenic flights will be priced at $100 for adults, with children under 15 free. Seats can be booked by calling 0800 323 359!

20 November 2013

Northern Joyrides

Having relocated to Whangaeri for the summer again (see the map insert to the right of the blog indicating my current base), I've managed to nab myself two joyrides over the course of the week during my down time between flying the parachute drop ships.

Ride number one was in Gyrocopter KIW, based at WR and flown by a local pilot 'Rusty' who has got to be one of the most enthusiastic aviators I've ever met! I'd always been keen to experience open cockpit flight, but up until this particular day I'd been rather apprehensive about jumping into a seat that wasn't shielded from spinning rotor blades above my head.

I also wasn't familiar with the technical operation of AutoGyro aircraft types, and was surprised to learn than the forward travel of the machine was provided solely by the 'push' propeller at the rear, with the horizontal blade assembly above the cockpit spinning freely with the oncoming airflow acting like a giant circular wing.

After takeoff from the airport, we headed out over the low flying zone towards Ruakaka Beach and made several approaches to land on the sand, which was another first for me. The Gyrocopter cruises at around 85 knots, but can be stopped in next to no distance at walking pace, making it an extremely versatile aircraft.

After a few touch and go's in different directions, we climbed up a little to cross the harbour entrance to Mount Mania and hugged the hilly terrain all the way back along the peninsular towards Onerahi. I've logged a few hundred hours flying at a higher altitude around the same area, so it was brilliant to get down low and see the contrasting view that only a gyrocopter can provide. Being open to the elements was exilerating, although I only had my iPhone in hand as a camera and was rather hesitant to take too many photos in case I dropped it over the side...

Ride number two was a jumpseat in an Air Nelson Q300 on my rostered day off back to Auckland. The captain was an ex- Ardmore instructor who was keen for me to observe the short twenty minute sector that the 50 seaters are now providing in lieu of Eagle's 1900d 19 seaters.

Whilst the day had been CAVOK conditions in the 'Rei, thunderstorms were seemingly brewing everywhere south of the city, and quite a few track deviations had to be requested to advoid CB build ups that topped much higher than the cruising level of 10,000 feet!

Tauranga had been set as an alternate airdrome, with conditions at NZAA looking marginal, and Hamilton covered with lightning bolts and hail at time of arrival. A steep descent of 2400 ft/minute had to be made to punch through the cloud as quick as possible, reminiscent of VSI readings in the 182 I fly for Ballistic Blondes, and great fun to observe from the pointy end of the Dash!

Beaver Floatplane

It was a few months ago that a fellow aviation blogger stumbled across the aucklandseaplanes.com website and sparked my interest in the arrival of a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane in my home city.

Through the NZ Aviation News, I was fortunate enough to meet the crew who are now operating ZK-AMA on scenic flights and private charters from the Viaduct Harbour, and tag along for a flight in the right hand seat over the Hauraki Gulf at the end of last week.

The feature article I've written on Auckland Seaplanes will be available for reading in the December/January summer holiday issue when it arrives in stores soon- but to tide you over until then, I've uploaded few of the photographs below that I managed to snap whilst on board.

The editor of the magazine was flying in a Piper Cub which we formated with over the water for some air to air publicity photograph opportunities. Once I have receive the results of his efforts via email, the images will duly be making their way onto this blog in another update as time permits! 

CEO Chris Sattler, and his aircraft
Chief pilot Steve conducting pre flight checks
Unusual throttle stack arrangement
Auckland waterfront on takeoff
The float paralleling Auckland harbour bridge
Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island
Palm Cove, Waiheke Island
Nani Island, on the northern coast of Waiheke
Slowing down for air to air shots with a Piper Cub
The short wake trail showing the Beavers stopping distance
EDIT: The article can now be read online for free here.

01 November 2013

China Southern 787

China Southern Airlines replaced their daily A330 Guangzhou to Auckland service with their brand new Boeing 787-8 this week, making the company the first to fly a scheduled Dreamliner airframe in and out of New Zealand.

Whilst out at NZAA on Thursday, I caught the colourful B-2727 arriving on runway 05 under a murky grey sky:

And also some of the local narrowbodies going about their business:

Cessna 206 Type Rating

Another new entry into the front of my logbook this week was a Cessna 206 type rating. I've always liked the look of the 206, and having spent quite a bit of time flying the 182, saw it as the logical next step up in the Cessna family of aircraft to take. 

I'd spotted ZK-NOC visiting Whangarei over the summer, and it turned out that one of the Ardmore instructors is very friendly with the owner and was able to organise another instructor to take me up in it.

Differences between my current steed and the 206 include a larger IO-520 Continental engine (300hp max, 285hp continuous), longer fuselage with an extra row of seats and two rear cabin doors, and a heavier all up weight of 3600 lbs compared to 2950lbs of the 182N.

Handling wise, it's noticeably heavier on the controls, although the trade off between the larger engine and greater mass of the aircraft results in not too dissimilar feedback through the yoke than the 182. Performance was remarkable with just 2 POB to start with, especially the 20 degree of flat max performance takeoff we made from Ardmore's grass runway- although I also got to fly a few circuits with a full load of passengers to experience how the aircraft responds at that weight. Go arounds with 40 degree of flap, 6 POB and the nose trimmed for landing are known to be dangerous, and I was briefed on this before carrying one out on the second to last approach of the day.

Unlike the 172 and 182 aircraft, the 206 also has a fuel selector that only goes LEFT/RIGHT/OFF. No both tank failsafe- definitely something to be concious of whilst operating, thankfully NOC is fitted with a ringing timer you can set before takeoff to remind you to switch over tanks to keep the contents balanced after 30/60 minutes.

During the flight, I had to demonstrate stalls in clean and landing configuration, increasing the glide range with the pitch lever for a simulated engine failure, steep turns and some low flying along the coast at 500ft with the manifold pressure up at 25 inches- lots of fun! I'm not sure when I'll next be back in the cockpit of a Stationair, but am definitely keen for some more hours in one in the future!

NDB/ILS Endorsement

In July, I sat and passed my initial Multi Engine Instrument Rating issue flight test, for VOR and GPS navigation aids. Yesterday, I added the NDB and ILS endorsements to my MEIR, finalising my flight training with Ardmore Flying School.

The plan was to have this done the in the fortnight following my first MEIR test, but as per usual at Ardmore, instructor/aircraft availability resulted in a delay of three weeks before I was offered a re currency simulator session. This was followed by a few more ground sims, to get my NDB tracking and intercepts up to scratch, and a further two practice flights in the Duchess before I was able to get myself the test flight.

The test date got bounced around a few times due to the testing officer I'd been booked with having other work commitments on a roster that kept changing. Eventually I got paired up with the school CFI on the Wednesday of this week, and even though there was an aircraft change last minute due to unscheduled maintenance, I was finally able to go for my final flight.

The route I was given was: AR - SY3G - HN (NDB/DME 18L holds, approach, missed approach)- BUDEN 1 - HN5A - EMRAG - AA (ILS/DME 23L approach) - VFR AR. Estimated time off blocks was 0900 local, with the flight time expected to be a little under two hours cruising at 150 knots.

However, the new aircraft we'd been assigned, ZK-JED had an inoperative cabin heater, and with the freezing level being 1000 ft lower than our cruising altitude of 6000 feet down to Hamilton, the testing officer elected to taxi down to the mechanic's hanger to try get it sorted before takeoff. This is when problem number two occurred, the right hand engine's bendix drive was having trouble engaging and it took a good 10 attempts to get it started. The mechanics couldn't fix either of the issues in a hurry when we visited them either- so we just had to make do with cold feet.

IFR clearance was requested and received, pre takeoff checklists ran, and I began rolling. Simulated engine failure #1 was on the runway, #2 on the SID, and then I proceeded as normal. The flight was straight forward enough until we were approaching the Hamilton NDB, when we got vectored out of 090 and descended from 6000 to 5000. A few minutes later we were told to head back to the beacon and rejoin the hold which changed the entry from a offset to a parallel one. On the first lap we were cleared to descend to 4000 to expect the approach, but on the inbound, told to climb back to 5000 and continue to hold due traffic. Engine failure #3 was on the second lap, following by another descent to 4000! Engine failure #4 was on the base turn for runway 18L, which remained failed for the rest of the approach until passing the beacon. Apart from calculating my TOD point a little too early and levelling off briefly on the outbound leg of the approach, I managed to hit all my profile altitudes squarely with one engine inoperative.

We then tracked back north after climbing out from Hamilton, following the HN5A STAR towards EMRAG, in IMC for the duration of the cruise at 5000ft. Auckland was busy, and we were cleared number 5 for the ILS. We were told to reduce speed to 110 knots, then vectored through the centreline for 23L to the north, before being bought back around to the south west for a 231 inbound. The testing officer reckoned my corrections were too much and too often, even though I'd been making a concious effort to keep them tiny, however it was still within flight test limits and at DA we broke off for the 8 mile VFR leg to Ardmore over the Manukau Harbour.

It wasn't a perfect flight test, and I'd made some mistakes hitting 'ALT' on the autopilot panel rather than 'VS' and 'ALT' together to hold the rate of climb, however it was still a pass that I was satisfied with. I'm just glad that after months of waiting, I can finally call myself fully instrument rated (well 2 pilot at least), and can head back to Northland to bulk my hours parachuting dropping over the summer!