27 April 2015

Whakatane Photos

Following on from my last blog post, I flew down to Whakatane with a friend on Sunday to attend the open day on behalf of the Aviation News, check out the Air Chats fleet and meet some of the faces behind the operation.

The turnout from the locals was spectacular despite the showery weather- I estimate a crowd of several thousand with the huge line of cars stretching along Aerodrome Road being one of the first things I noticed as we popped out the clouds on approach.

Brett Emeny bought his Vampire over from New Plymouth which he threw around fast and low in the overhead to the delight of the spectators, followed by a three ship Yak 52 formation. Cirrus SR 22 demonstrator ZK-CNZ was also in attendance, as were Sun Air with Aztec ZK-PIX promoting the inclusion of NZWK in their provincial route structure.  

Metroliner ZK-CIC on the apron
ZK-CIC's flight deck
ZK-AWP, one of the two remaining airworthy DC3's in the country
AWP's flight deck
Up front in Convair 580 ZK-CIE
East Bay Aviation's C182R was busy on scenic flights all day
Brett's Vamp outside the funky looking terminal
Up the tailpipe of the de Havilland Goblin powerplant
The Yak 52's making the most of a lapse in the weather
Snapped a few minutes later, taxing in after the display
Seneca ZK-DCP's panel on our return journey
Cheesy selfies at 9000'
Textbook Easterly weather conditions, with the Kaimai's sheltering the Hauraki Plains
In between cloud layers, nearing Auckland

24 April 2015

Whakatane Open Day

Whakatane Airport is hosting an open day this Sunday to celebrate the launch of Air Chathams new air service to Auckland. Their Metroliner and Convair will be open to explore on the ramp, whilst their DC3 and other local operators will be offering scenic flights around the region.

Gates open at 10am with a gold coin donation on entry. More details here.

22 April 2015

Blue Bridge

Going night flying has become less of an inconvenience now the clocks have been rolled back, with ECT striking just after 1800. Yesterday evening I was safety pilot for a friend logging some time in the 310, and caught this snap of the Harbour Bridge lit up in blue as part of the 2degrees 'Play the Bridge' promotion as we flew over Auckland:

20 April 2015

From the NZAA carpark

Had the camera handy whilst waiting for a mate to arrive at NZAA on a gloomy afternoon last Wednesday.

ZK-NZG, ANZ's latest 787-900, delivered 5th Dec 14. The airline now have firm orders for 9 more airframes to bring the fleet size to 12 by 2018. This week it was also announced that the type would be used on the Auckland - Nadi route from November.

ZK-OXA, the airline's first Sharklet equipped A320 operating domestic-only duties.

ZK-NEG, one of the soon to be repainted teal tailed Air Nelson Q300's.

B-HXH, a Cathay A343 holding its control surfaces into a brisk crosswind as it taxied for departure. Not long after, the rough weather resulted in a China Southern B773 making a late go around after a bounced touchdown on 23L. Then on Saturday, another CX A343 made the call to divert to Ohakea through 1300 feet on the approach. A wet runway with gusts of 30 knots were recorded at the time.

The Auckland based Sleepyhead Dassault Falcon 900EX conducting local training exercises.

B-2007, operating flight CSN305 on it's second approach after going missed.

Ex Vincent Jetstream 31 ZK-JSH, now flown under Air Freight NZ's AOC.

Jetstar VH-VFJ arriving from Christchurch. It started and finished the day in Melbourne.

ZK-SFK in from Great Barrier, with a Dash 8 banking left in the distance.

In other news from the top of the food chain- ANZ have disclosed Houston, TX as their latest long haul destination from Auckland commencing this December. Refitted 772's will fly the
11,990km route, making it the longest non stop flight on the international network. Continental Airlines had hoped to connect the same two cities in 2011 with their Dreamliner, but the link was never secured.

LAN Chile have replaced their daily A340 Santiago/Sydney to Auckland services with 787-800 series as of April 18th. This route takes advantage of the May 2014 FAA approval for 330 minute Extended Diversion Time Operation ETOPS approval for the 787.

09 April 2015


I was fortunate enough to be put to work on heli-surveying operations down at North Canterbury's Puketeraki Range recently. Alpine Springs Helicopters provided the pilot and turbine powered MD/Hughes 500 (ZK-HSD) for the job, which required the recording of a network of GPS co-ordinates over the rugged otherwise inaccessible foothills on a perfectly calm blue sky morning.


Whilst flying from Woodbourne to Ardmore last week, an unusual cloud growth on the horizon of an otherwise flat status layer caught my eye. It became clear as we crossed the Taranaki coastline at 7000 feet that the build up was a pyrocumulus development generated from a sizeable bush fire below.

Both myself and another pilot in the area reported the fire to air traffic control, but did not hear any further information other than the cloud tops had grown above 8000 feet about 20 minutes after this photo was taken.

SEP's of Interest

A few single engine pistons of interest that have been active at Ardmore lately:

Cessna C206
VH-UBV was ferried over from Mareeba (QLD), via both Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands on the 10th - 11th March for Mission Aviation Fellowship NZ. The charitable organisation plan to utilise the aircraft for training and assessing pilot candidates who will then head overseas and fly in rugged off airport third world environments on humanitarian aid delivery roles. The machine is being based at the Christian Aviation hangers for the interim whilst a change to the ZK register is made. A first hand trip report from the Tasman crossing can be found here.

Cessna TTx
Cessna TTx, N362CS was on demonstrator duties for Flightline recently, having also arrived internationally from Australia in mid March. The TTx started life as Lancair design, evolving through a confusing rebranding process as the Columbia 400, then the Cessna 400, and the Corvalis TT before this latest variant first flew in 2013. The new model boasts a 'fasted single engine piston with fixed undercarriage' title, with a published maximum cruise speed of 235KTAS possible thanks to the 310hp turbocharged Continental TSIO-550-C powerplant.

I spotted the aircraft outside the North Shore Aero Club on Friday 13th prior to the commencement of a nationwide tour which has since finished and seen the TTx return across the ditch.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV
Mark 14 Spitfire NH799, infamous for her 1996 take off accident at Wanaka flew again for the first time last Thursday evening after a mammoth restoration effort from Avspecs. I'd just returned to my home underneath the base leg for runway 03 when the unusual throaty rumble of the Griffon V12 in the overhead took my by surprise.

This grainy silhouette was all I managed to snap to confirm the event- whilst MRC Aviation had a man at the threshold poised for the close ups. 3 News also have some great footage of Sir Tim Wallis being reunited with the aircraft that nearly cost him his life, reporting that ZK-XIV's visit to Omaka, (remarkably made the following day!), marked the first time since WW2 that three Spitfires have flown in formation in the Southern Hemisphere.

08 April 2015

Omaka Photo Links

I was unable to attend the Classic Fighters 2015 airshow at Omaka this year, although have been able to vicariously enjoy viewing plenty of the photographs taken by the lucky people who did. Below are links to various websites hosting such eye candy:

Gavin Conroy's Classic Aviation Photography

Wings Over Cambridge Forum
NZFF Forum

Dave Homewood's 600 strong image collection
Rob Pine's collection (available as prints)
Colin Hunter's collection

Grahams Glimpses Photography

The Nelson Mail

Highlights include a triple Spitfire formation, nine ship WW1 formation, a 0.75 scale remotely controlled V1 rocket, an unusual Fokker Friendship handling display and triple DC-3's in attendance.