25 October 2015

40 on the Nose

I had finished flying the C310 with the aerial survey company in the Autumn, with the expectation of starting the scheduled passenger run with my new operator come the beginning of winter. However with red tape being what it is, this start date was continually pushed out from 'any day now' to 'just a couple of weeks' and then 'a couple more weeks' as the year rolled on.

Finding myself without steady income, I ended up starting my own UAV company using a small camera drone that I had originally purchased for fun to sell stabilised aerial video footage to real estate agents and land developers. This quickly became a full time gig during my downtime and I had a job request come in from the Wairarapa through a friend of a friend.

As it turns out, this friend was also a pilot and after accepting the job, we flew down to Wellington together to meet the client. This trip was originally planned to be flown in his own PA34, although due to unscheduled maintenance requirements it became unavailable at the last minute and we ended up hiring a C172 from the North Shore Aero Club.

We preflighted the aircraft at dawn with the hopes of arriving in the Capital mid morning, although 40 knot headwinds forecast all the way up from 3000 feet delayed our ETA significantly. The groundspeed was painfully slow at every level we tried, down as low at 52 knots at one stage even with the RPM set towards the top of the green range. If I recall correctly, 45 minutes after getting airborne from NZNE, we had only just passed Port Waikato, and I could still see my house in the distance out the side window!

Fortunately the private 172 was a newer model equipped with the G1000 avionic suite and we utilised the range ring on the moving map to check our what endurance we could achieve with the fuel on board. To start with, it looked like we just stretch it to NZWN in one hop, although that soon became unachievable and we talked about diverting to NZPP for a fuel top up. Half an hour later, that option went out the window too and we ended up dropping into NZWU on the RNAV for a splash of gas a staggering 3 hours and 50 minutes later. Funnily enough this was the first time since leaving AFS that I had the opportunity to make use of the dubious single engine two pilot instrument rating, and with it's decent autopilot system, we actually managed to get clearance to fly a coupled ILS into Wellington upon our eventual arrival.

The rest of the day went according to plan, with beautiful clear skys in the 'Rapa and the lower wind dropping right off. It was dark by the time we got back to the airport for the return flight home, although fortunately we were able to take advantage of the tailwind up high with a non standard flightplan at 10,000 feet giving us 162 knots GS and getting us back to North Shore in 2 hours, 10 minutes including a reversal turn on the approach!

Descending over Tiger Country for Wangavegas
XOX at the WU pumps (try saying that callsign a couple of dozen times!)
On vectors for the approach
Titahi Bay, Porirua
Makara Wind Turbines
Looking over Newlands towards Wellington City
Lining up on runway 34 for our return leg

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