21 January 2015

Masterton UAV Symposium

This year the Wings over Wairarapa airshow included a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) trade show with an annual symposium held alongside the practice display day on Friday 16th January. Our company had been invited to attend the conference as aside from the C310 that we operate for large scale aerial photography and mapping, we have also been utilising our own remotely piloted quadcopter over the past few months for smaller scale low level jobs.

Due to the 0830 registration time on the day, we made a 0630 departure from Ardmore to get to Masterton with enough time to park and drive to the Copthorne hotel venue. The early morning flying was great, up above the clouds in calm conditions.

Passing Mt Ruapehu
The gist of the conference was how the authorities were grappling with the exponential growth of 'Drones' being used in NZ airspace, and how they planned to regulate them. Lots of questions were asked by those in attendance, but no firm answers seemed to be given. The CAA are currently blanketing UAV flying under Part 101 (Gyrogliders and Parasails; and Unmanned Balloons, Kites,
Rockets, and Model Aircraft Operating Rules), although it seems to be in mutual agreement that the technology available off the shelf far out dates the rules that were first published in 1997. A new Part 102 is in development to encompass what the CAA are referring to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems or 'RPAS', expected to be released later this year.

Another reoccurring theme that was bought up throughout the day was the danger of recreational Drone pilots, unaware of airspace boundaries or CAA rules, flying where they shouldn't be and causing a potential hazard to low flying fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. An increasing amount of near misses have been documented and uploaded online, with the possibility for damage far greater than that resulting from a bird strike, when highly combustible Li-Ion batteries are introduced into the equation!

More information on the do's and do-not's of UAV flying can be found at the following sites:

Drone Pilot Quick Start Guide

Snapped by Chris Gee on departure
A twilight airshow display was taking place in the evening come time we were ready to depart again, with a highlight of the day for me being the backtrack along grass 06/24 with a Kittyhawk bearing down at me, nose on, then screaming over the top of of the 310 along the crowd line causing the whole plane to shake. I wish I'd known it was going to happen in advance as that would have made for one awesome video!

The winds had picked up significantly during the day with lenticular cloud visible south of the airfield, and plenty of bumps for us as we began our northbound flight. I believe some of the planned WW1 replica flying that was scheduled for the weekend was grounded because it was too gusty on the ground, and the air to air sortie with the jet formation over Wellington was the most turbulent conditions the photographer had ever worked in!

Enroute to NZAR in the haze
It was a different story over the upper half of the North Island with just some scattered cloud and smoother flying as ECT approached. We landed back at base just after 2000 local, with the sun setting soon after creating one last photo opportunity for the day:

05 January 2015

Trevor Bland's Funeral

A funeral service for Trevor Bland, the founding president of New Zealand Warbirds Association, was held on Christmas Eve at Ardmore. The aviation fraternity gave the well known aviator a fitting send off, with the DC3, P-51 and five ship Harvard formation flying several high speed low passes over the airfield early afternoon.

A biography of TT's life, 'Rags to Rivets' can be purchased from flyingbooks.co.nz