Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another good day detached from the ground

Yep, I got to go flying again today, although it almost didn't happen.

I was scheduled to take up a couple of passengers today, but with some rubbish weather not moving through as early as expected and it all looking rather non-scenic and potentially a bit rough, I thought it was better to pull the plug on that flight.

Instead I spent a fun 48 minutes flying out to the Southern Wairarapa area in the Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT, doing a few rate 1 [shallow] turns, a simulated forced landing and then flew back.

As it turned out, there were quite smooth flying conditions, although still fairly gloomy and clouds down around 1700-1800' in places. Good enough for me though and perfectly safe. I even managed to pull off an awesome landing - especially compared to my last flight a couple of weeks ago :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Old tail-cam footage from an Air NZ B737-200 flying into Wellington

I stumbled across the following awesome footage [from 1996] of an Air NZ Boeing 737-200, ZK-NAT, flying a visual approach into Wellington. What you see in the video is the aircraft joining right-hand downwind from just west of Island Bay, continuing over the city then a right turn in to land.

Just a pity the current crop of Air NZ aircraft don't have tail [or nose] mounted cameras :-)

Anyway, enjoy the video!

Unusual visitors

I popped out to the Aero Club today, only to see some unusual visitors to Wellington on the ground and in the air.

The biggest surprise is was an Air NZ operated Boeing 767-319, ZK-NCK! It has been a long, long time since I have seen a B767 at Wellington.

Next up is a Piper PA38-112, ZK-FJR, from Canterbury Aero Club, which was parked in the old engine run-up bay. Next to this was a Cessna 180K, ZK-JCW, from Canterbury Aviation Ltd. The final picture is of the underside of Cirrus Design SR22, ZK-FMN, registered to an Auckland address, during an overshoot.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Air New Zealand retires its last Boeing 747

The big aviation news from New Zealand over the past few days is that Air New Zealand has retired the last of its Boeing 747-400's, with the final revenue flight one from San Francisco to Auckland.

I wasn't at Auckland to see the arrival of the last flight, a Boeing 747-419, ZK-NBV, although many other sites have some good information, such as this post from MRC Aviation which has a brief history of the type with Air NZ and an old Air NZ promotional video featuring the type.

As for my pictures, these include two photos of ZK-NBV on approach to Auckland back in January, reproduced below, which are my last photos of this particular aircraft.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday was low cloud and drizzle, today was sunshine. Beautiful weather to be flying in! I was planning on going for a flight, but as it turned out there was a happy coincidence of my preferred aircraft being wanted for another flight and an offer of a flight in the Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO. Not hard to work out what I did :-)

So, many thanks to Erich who took me up for a ride! After a few circuits, we headed out to the Southern Wairarapa for a look around before returning to Wellington. As the photos show, the weather really was good!

In different, although related, news, during one touch-and-go I got to see the "10th anniversary" Airbus A320-232, VH-VGF, from Jetstar - it's a bit of a "desperation shot" with no time to get the best lens or set up the shot...

Anyway, here are the photos:

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A wee bit wet today

I was due to go for a flight today, but with low cloud and drizzle appearing and remaining, there is no way that was going to work. In fact, it's just after 16:00 NZST and the cloud is only just lifting from my house which is a few hundred feet above sea level.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow, although I suspect the weather will still be rubbish.

At least on days like today, there are usually still a few good photos to be had. Today was no exception.

Perhaps the most interesting landing of the day would go to the Jetstar crew who managed to land an Airbus A320 on Wellington's runway 16 and pull off at taxiway A6 - around 1100 meters from the threshold. It must have been very very light to do that as they usually exit much later, especially in damp conditions and reasonably light winds.

Anyway, here are the photos. Top to bottom are;

Airbus A320-232, VH-VQC, of Jetstar
British Aerospace Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW, of Vincent Aviation [the local air ambulance]
Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NEK, of Air Nelson [Air NZ]
2 x Boeing 737-8FE, ZK-PBD, of Virgin Australia Airlines [NZ] Ltd

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Aerodromes and Airstrips page

After an earlier failed attempt, I have updated and re-enabled my Aerodromes and Airstrips blog page. You can see it at the top of this page or by clicking here.

While it is a wee bit sparse at the moment, I hope to keep this updated with a brief introduction to the many aerodromes and strips I have visited from Wellington over the past few years. Some may be familiar to you, several may not.

If you want any more information on the places I have visited, please let me know and I'll see what I can do.

My vision is that in the next few months, I might start to put together a site detailing interesting information that might not appear, or be clear, in official publications [such as aerodrome-based attractions, helpful hints etc].

A great day to aviate!

After not flying since 2 June [ok - I was on holiday for 4 of those weeks!], I got back behind the controls of the Aero Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT today. A total of 1.1 hours, starting with some dual circuits followed by some by myself.

The weather was good - a gentle breeze, a slight cross wind meant I had to stay alert, but I could still enjoy it. With all of the terrain around Wellington, there were a few lumps and bumps, especially when downwind, but nothing to much.

I was a wee bit rusty. Combine that with what was probably a tailwind component on final approach and it was a go-around for the first circuit [grrrr!] but all safe enough. The remaining circuits included hit the ground softly enough, so good.

I'm hoping for some good weather in September so I can knock off a couple more hours.

Anyway, the pictures. First up is a Bombardier CL-600-1B16 Challenger, VH-VSZ. This aircraft is registered to Execujet in Australia and I understand it may have flown here direct from Perth, Australia a couple of days ago. It left this afternoon. Second is the Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vans RV4 at Wellington

I am well and truly back home now. The weather is cold, wet and windy :-) and I'm back into photographing some of the aircraft passing through Wellington. Today's aircraft is a Vans RV-4, ZK-RVI.

It not only looks good, but it sounds like it flies quick also... just a pity I have no tail-dragger experience. As it turns out, this is also the first RV4 photo I've put up on the blog [as far as I can tell].

Friday, August 22, 2014

*updated* London Heathrow to Wellington... the big day

** Updated: 22/8/2014 14:45 with more details and minor editorial updates **

I have been back in Wellington, New Zealand for less than 24 hours now, so it's time for a brief update on the flights :-)

I left London Heathrow on the evening of Tuesday 19 August and arrived in Wellington mid afternoon Thursday 21 August, having travelled via Abu Dhabi and Sydney.

Rides home were:
  • London to Adu Dhabi: Etihad Airbus A340-600
  • Adu Dhabi to Sydney: Virgin Australia Boeing 777
  • Sydney to Wellington: Air NZ Airbus A320
All of the flights were comfortable enough [ok, so long-haul in economy is never going to be great] but the Virgin Australia economy seat stood out as noticeably more comfortable than the Etihad economy seat [the Etihad seat felt the same on all 3 sectors I flew with them; a noticeably harder seat pan].

The inflight service was really good on all long haul sectors, including crew and food. Without exception, all of the cabin crews on all flights were friendly and welcoming and even the long-haul meals were all tasty.

I liked the Virgin Australia "snack bars" in economy - just chips, water and soft drinks - a nice touch but easier than going to ask a crew member. As for Etihad, a two people on different flights commented about how helpful and friendly the Etihad crew were to passengers - something I saw as well. Perhaps surprisingly and completely unprompted, both of those passengers compared Etihad to another well-known, well-regarded, full-service airline and said that Etihad crews are far better [I haven't flown on that other airline, so I can't comment on that]!

As for IFE - they were all good, although the Virgin Australia aircraft implementation was mostly better. It was more touch-responsive [although none of them are great] and no annoying adverts before the movies! Big bonus points for not having to fast-forward over the same advert for each movie for TV programme! The only [minor] negative about the Virgin IFE was that the flight map history was all made up - only the current position was accurate [yes, I did say minor!].

All in all, I'd very happily fly with all three of these airlines again.

The only major niggles I had in the entire trip were a delayed bag [on the way over] and a disinterested, lying, lazy, idiot [or all 4 perhaps?] check in agent [working for "Servicair" on behalf of Etihad] at London Heathrow on the way home.

Delayed Baggage
...was delivered the next day... turns out someone had only sent it as far as Abu Dhabi... annoying for me and for family who were at Heathrow to pick me up, but hardly the end of the world. I was given £26 compensation at the airport, of which my sister made me spend about £75 on new clothes... yes, those numbers are correct :-)

Servicair check in at Heathrow
Checking in just over 3 hours before the first flight towards home, I was told by the check-in agent that there were no aisle seats available on any of the three sectors [she did not say "I can't change seats", but "there are none available"!]... unless I wanted to pay extra for an exit row of course [no, I'll keep my money]... Almost sounds like this person was on commission!

If I had checked in at short notice then fair enough, but there are about 114 aisle seats on an Eithad A340-600 in economy [excluding the 12 associated with an exit row], so I doubt they were all gone 3 hours and 10 minutes before departure [can anyone confirm either way?]... as for the flights departing about 13 hrs and 28 hrs later... who knows...?

As it turns out, I found out that the computer had already allocated me an aisle seat on the longest flight between Adu Dhabi and Sydney [so she probably didn't even look before saying "none available"!].

What confirmed her incompetence was when I was told I would have to pick up my checked baggage [ie: go through immigration] in Sydney, even though I was continuing on to Wellington a couple of hours later. This was despite her issuing me a bag tag which included Wellington. Yes, I did query this in case I had mis-heard her. The same instruction was issued. Virgin Australia [via twitter] suggested the advice I was given was wrong and Air NZ [at the international transfer desk in Sydney] confirmed all was OK. Air NZ also gave me an aisle seat [they wanted to reissue my boarding pass anyway for some reason]. Nice support Virgin Australia and Air NZ. Thanks!

I have never thought it was unreasonable to politely request aisle seats. I had never been ignored before. Oh well. Servicair.. perhaps one of your staff should be given more training...?

Social Media support
The social media teams at Virgin Australia, Etihad and Air NZ seem to have the social media side of things just about worked out. Sure, they all like compliments, but even when there have been issues, they are quick to help [especially Virgin's twitter people after the "Servicair" incident about the baggage]. There can be a wee disconnect between Virgin's team and the services available at the airport at times, but no major problems.

Maybe I'm just getting old and should stop complaining :-)

Anyway, just a few photos from Heathrow Terminal 4. Top to bottom we have:

Boeing 777-2U8/ER, 5Y-KQT, of Kenya Airways
Airbus A319-111, F-GRXA, of Air France
General view of part of T4
Boeing 777-337/ER, VT-ALO, of Air India
My ride to Adu Dhabi :-) Airbus A340-642, A6-EHK, of Etihad Airways
Airbus A380-841, G-XLEC, of British Airways
Airbus A321-211, F-GTAJ, of Air France

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Goodwood Aerodrome #2

Following on from my previous posts, here are a number of interesting aircraft from the Goodwood Aerodrome. Most of these are taildraggers, and if you look carefully, there are one or two interesting types hidden in the background.

One thing I forgot to do in the previous post is provide a link to the appropriate web page, so here is is [click here]. Anyway, on to the photos. Top to bottom we have:

Stinson 108-2 Voyager, G-BPTA
Piper PA22-108 Colt, G-ARNJ
Piper J-3-C-65 Cub, G-POOH
Piper J-3-C-65 Cub, G-BROR
De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk22, G-BBMV
Vans RV9, G-CDMN

Goodwood Aerodrome #1

Two days ago I visited Goodwood Aerodrome [ICAO code: EGHR] - mostly to have a brief look, although we had a bite to eat at the Goodwood Aerodrome cafe also.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but as it turns out, quite a number of vintage/ historic aircraft, as well as the "normal" trainers - in fact, microlights to warbirds as well as helicopters.

The following series of posts will show a few of the aircraft visible from the cafe. It's by no means complete...!

Top to bottom we have:

View of the "historic" flightline - loads of taildraggers in there...
Piper PA22-150 Tri Pacer, G-AWLI
Piper PA17 Vagabond, G-ALEH
Piper PA28-161, OY-PHK - and a reminder that in Europe, aircraft can easily cross national boundaries!
Thruster T-600N 450, G-CBKG
Unknown type, G-CEKC
Scottish Aviation Bulldog 101, G-RNRS
Extra EA300L, G-IIDI
Both of these last two are available for aerobatic trial flights :-)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dublin Airport #5

One thing I had not expected about a trip from Ireland to the UK is that it is considered to be a domestic trip, so although I went through UK and Irish immigrations on the way in [UK immigration as I was transiting from Brussels], I had none of that on the way out. It certainly made the UK side of things a lot quicker.

It was also a bit of a surprise to exit the secure area at Heathrow right into the departure check in gates. Not that I'm complaining!

Anyway, here are the final set of photos from Dublin Airport. Top to bottom we have:

British Aerospace Avro 146-RJ85A, EI-RJX, of Cityjet
British Aerospace Avro 146-RJ85A, EI-RJT, of Cityjet
Bombardier CRJ-900, D-ACNO, of Eurowings
Bombardier BD-700-1A11 Global 5000, A7-CED, of Qatar Executive
Bombardier Challenger 605 [CL-600-2B16], EI-WFI, of Westair Aviation

Dublin Airport #4

In this posts, I have some of the larger aircraft seen [apart from the Aer Lingus A330's from the earlier post] at Dublin, as well as a couple more turbo props.

Top to bottom are:

Boeing 767-333/ER, C-FMWY, of Air Canada Rouge
Airbus A321-111, HB-IOD, of Swiss International Air Lines
Boeing 767-332/ER, N194DN, of Delta Air Lines
ATR ATR42-300, OY-CIR, of Danish Air Transport... a really colourful one this!
Fokker 50, OO-VLQ, of Cityjet/ VLM Airlines