Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wellington to London: Others at Abu Dhabi

In this final "Wellington to London" post, I have a selection of other aircraft I saw at Abu Dhabi.

One thing you may notice in all of these photos are signs of construction. I'll see if I can find a photo that shows this better, but the airport is essentially being reconstructed to increase capacity. It is almost as if everywhere that is not currently in use is a construction site. It'd be interesting to transit through here in a couple of years!

Anyway, top to bottom are:

Airbus A330-223, D-ALPF, registered to Air Berlin
De Havilland Canada DHC-8-202, A6-ADA, registered to Abu Dhabi Aviation
Boeing 747-409F/SCD, B-18717, registered to China Airlines Cargo
Airbus A321-231, A7-AIC, registered to Qatar Airways

Wellington to London: Abu Dhabi International Airport, Virgin Australia, Etihad and Jet Airways

Following on from my last post, I spent about 8 hours at Abu Dhabi International Airport [OMAA]. It's a nice enough airport - thankfully well air conditioned [it was comfortable inside but about 41` deg celsius outside....!] - and easy to get around.

Transit security was interesting. On first look, it appeared to be organised mayhem [minus the "organised" bit] but in fact it went quite quickly and very smoothly. They were concerned that all metal came off, but LAGs [Liquids Aerosols and Gels] did not need to be separated. There was lots of noise, but none of it directed at the passengers from what I could see.

Terminal 3 [where we arrived and departed from] is fairly spread out. I was a little surprised that eating options were a little limited, but there was a bar, a Burger King and a reasonable selection of other outlets - just not as much as I would have expected in a terminal of this size and stature.

Anyway, on to the photos of aircraft. In this post I have a few sample photos of Virgin Australia, Etihad and Jet Airways aircraft. Top to bottom are:

Boeing B777-3ZG/ER, VH-VPD, registered to Virgin Australia
Boeing B777-3FX/ER, A6-ETE, registered to Etihad
Airbus A330-243, A6-EYR, registered to Etihad
Airbus A330-223, A6-EYC, registered to Jet Airways [Etihad]

Wellington to London: The intro

As the post title indicates, I'm now on my long-awaited holiday, and in the UK [at least for now]!

My ticket is a Virgin Australia ticket, although the flights so far have been on Air NZ and Etihad. The route flown was Wellington [NZWN] to Sydney [YSSY] to Abu Dhabi [OMAA] to London Heathrow [EGLL]. All in economy with 5 hrs in Sydney and 7 in Abu Dhabi. 37 hours of travel, but I coped with it just fine.

Obviously I made it, although for the first time ever, not everything went particularly smoothly.

Firstly, I was [yet again] disappointed by Virgin Australia's [VA] practices - this time around communication. Basically, they had booked me on Air NZ for the NZWN - YSSY flight [fine], but had not told me they it was without a meal. No big problem, but why would you hide this from your customers? Secondly, I was unable to choose seats for the long haul sectors [YSSY - OMAA and OMAA to EGLL]. VA's social media did respond quickly, and suggested I would have to sort it out in Sydney... but... believe it or not, there was NO ONE airside at Sydney to assist customers!! Yes, Idid ask. I ended up sorting the seat after I reached Abu Dhabi with an Etihad rep...

Lastly, my bags did not arrive. Looking at the bag tag, it appears that Air NZ gave me my boarding passes through to London, but my bag only as far at Abu Dhabi. I can't be 100% sure, but there's no mention of London Heathrow on the original bag tag. Crap. Etihad did get it sorted the next day so I now have my bag.

Apart from that, the flights themselves. The Air NZ flight was short and fine. Not flash, but fine. It was an Airbus A320-232, ZK-OJC, as pictured below.

The Eithad flights were actually pretty good. The service was good, the crews friendly and helpful. The food was nice and the lavs were kept clean. On the 14/ 15 hour sector from YSSY to OMAA I was asked by someone if I would swap with her husband. I already had a good seat for that sector, but her husband was in an exit row. Score for me! Aircraft on this sector was a Boeing B777-300.

When I got my seat changed for the final sector in Abu Dhabi, I was given an exit row also [I only asked for an aisle seat], so I feel like a bit of a winner in that regard :-) Aircraft on this final sector was an Airbus A340-642, A6-EHJ. This aircraft is in the 'Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2014' livery, also pictured below. Nice.

Last up is a picture of the new Abu Dhabi ATC Tower. This is not only massive, but very flash!

The next posts will have a few photos from Abu Dhabi airport. For now, take a look at all those cranes. Yes, they are all on the airport and show only a tiny part of the redevelopment.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's back...

Finally, after several months laid up, the Wellington Aero Club's Piper PA28-161, ZK-MBG is back online and sporting a new paint job.

I understand that it may receive more detail at some stage, but for now it is great to have it back!

The other aircraft spotted today is a Eurocopter EC130 B4, ZK-IUP, registered to Over The Top Ltd, of a Wakatipu, Queenstown address.

Lastly, I'm heading off on holiday. I'm not sure how regular any updates might be, but I'll try to get at least one or two in over the next few weeks. If it goes quiet though, it just means I'm enjoying myself in some sunshine!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


After a long time out of the air being painted, the Aero Club's Piper PA28-161, ZK-MBG, is almost ready to go. In the following picture you can see the shiny new paint job, that the registration has been applied. It appears there are just some finishing touches to be applied around the windows.

After this I understand it just needs to be test flown and a quick ferry flight for the re-weigh and a compass swing [at Paraparaumu aerodrome], then it's all go again!

It will certainly be good to have it back in the air.

Friday, July 18, 2014

MH17 crash

I guess you've all heard of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over the Ukraine earlier today. A very sad situation for all involved. I'm guessing that there will finally be some more scrutiny of the Ukraine/ Russian-backed civil war [am I allowed to call it that???!] and hopefully an end to that conflict sooner rather than later [well, we can live in hope].

Here's the only picture I seem to have of the aircraft involved... a Boeing 777-2H6/ER, 9M-MRD, shown below landing at Auckland on a fairly dreary day about one year ago, late June 2013.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Project Loon, high altitude balloons

This is something a little different for today... I was looking over New Zealand and noticed about 17 high altitude balloons from Google's Project Loon.

What makes these flights a little different is that the predominate winds over new Zealand tend to be westerly at the higher altitudes that these things are floating along at. These flights however show very clear southerly winds and, particularly as they get up above Auckland, an easterly component.

If this keeps up [which I doubt], they'll be over Australia in a few days [rather unlikely, I suspect]. Below is a partial screen cap from [links to Flightradar24 on another blog page]. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Boeing, one Airbus

There was nothing much happening at Wellington airport today, especially compared to the excitement at Auckland yesterday [with the arrival of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, ZK-NZE].

However, here are a couple of pictures. First up is a much older Air New Zealand Boeing, A B737-319, ZK-NGI. the second is a Jetstar Airbus A320-232, VH-VGO.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Preparations and flying stuff

There will be a busy few weekends coming up for me with house renovations [exterior painting] and preparation for my next overseas holidays in full swing. I did manage to get out to the Aero Club for a few hours, got to see Amy eating KFC [a most unusual event! :-)] and took a couple of photos.

The two photos I am publishing are of the Club's Piper PA38-112, ZK-TAW, which is back flying after a few months off for maintenance. The second is an ATR-GIE ATR72-212A, ZK-MVA, of Mount Cook Airline [Air NZ] and in the airlines All Black livery.

I'm hoping that there will be a couple more posts before I depart for some well earned holidays. while on holiday, posts may slow somewhat, but I hope to have some interesting photos from my holiday destinations as well as enroute.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A dying breed and... I crashed my brand new helicopter...

A wild and windy day at Wellington today meant no aero club flying, although the wetaher is forecast to be better tomorrow, so we'll see.

One photo from today is a Boeing 737-319, ZK-NGJ, registered to Air New Zealand. By my count, Air NZ only has about 7 B737's still in service, as they are retired in favour of an all Airbus [all A320 at this time] single-isle fleet.

Next photo is my new helicopter. I purchased it today, and so far I've already crashed it a few times - nothing that a quick repair won't fix and practice makes perfect :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Piper PA34-200T Seneca

Today's aircraft is one I hadn't seen (or at least photographed) for a while - a Piper PA34-200T Seneca, ZK-JDH, registered to Nelson Aviation College.

As you can see in the photo, it's another fine day in Wellington... unfortunately I have a bit of a cold, so there's no flying for me and it meant I didn't hang around long either. Oh well, we'll see what tomorrow brings :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Met Stuff

After last weekend's post on some interesting sites for met related information, I received a txt with another site to look at [Thanks RF... thought you might have an idea or two!]. This led me to explore a little further at some of the links from that main site.

So, first up we have Chris Noble's site. This site contains a lot of interesting met info, including charts, weather-related news [that involves Metservice in some way] and links to a range of fascinating met sites, some of which I have linked to below. I'll definitely be spending more time on this site just exploring what's available. Click here for

Next up is Skyvector. Skyvector Claims to chart the sigmet information onto a chart, along with the original wording of the sigmet. This info is extremely helpful for pilots wanting to avoid the worst weather, although, for the type of flying I do, it's usually fairly obvious how bad it is [or is going to get]. It appears that Skyvector contains a lot of other information, including aerodrome information and aviation forecasts and reports for international aerodromes [actually, it appears that other countries share met for more than just the international aerodromes]. The big caveat is that none of this is certified, so should not be used inflight or for planning purposes... but then, I suppose I could say that about most of the other sites I've linked to. Click here for Skyvector.

Last up is the National Climate Database ["Cliflo"] from NIWA. This one I'll have to spend some more time looking at. It's clearly different from the others [read that as: complicated for my simple brain!], but I suspect has some very interesting info in it. I'm not sure that it will be useful for my flying as I prefer something that is quick and easy to digest.... pictures!. Access is free, although it does require a login. The signup process is rather detailed, but simple enough. I'll have another look when I have some spare time! Click here for cliflo.

Lastly, a picture. This one taken from wikipedia. A very weird cloud indeed!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Meteorological information...

Despite the weather being nice, there is little flying happening at the moment. Unfortunately we have a number of aircraft out of service for maintenance which is slowing things down.

What I have done is taken a bit of a look around at various sources of weather information that could be useful for pilots or even just plain interesting. Note that some of these sites share a common information source [usually Metservice], but they still present information in different ways which can be helpful. Also, I don't claim to be a weather geek, so don't take any of these links as an assurance of validity, reliability or usefulness!

This is a long post, but do take a skim read and let me know what you think!

The first one is perhaps my new-found favourite [Thanks Jamie!]. Earth information is based on forecast data, sometimes several days in advance [some of it is updated 3 hourly though], so it might not be the best if you're trying to work out what is actually happening. On the plus side, Earth is highly visual and interactive and allows you to incorporate different data sources on various map projections. Nice. This is well worth a go! Click here for Earth.

Next up is Victoria University of Wellington's MetVUW site. As you'd expect from a university, it's a lot more technical, so perhaps not as useful unless you take the time to learn and understand what the information is and how it is presented. What I particularly like is the longer range forecast information. Click here for MetVUW.

Third is the Meteorological Service of New Zealand's [Metservice] public website. This contains the usual range of public forecasts, including Towns and Cities, Rural, Marine & Surf, Mountains & Parks along with radar images. As the official public weather geeks for New Zealand, you'd expect this information to be pretty good, and it is. Click here for Metservice.

Next is a specialised Metservice site for aviation, Metflight. This is a source of official aviation forecasts. Unfortunately it is behind a paywall, but if you are a pilot or organisation paying for access there's a wealth of information from Metservice, tailored to the aviation environment. Click here for Metflight.

Another source of information is Weather Underground. Weather Underground provide forecasts and reports from around the world including New Zealand. I particularly like the simple way that information is presented on maps and that you can overlay many types of data onto a single map. Click here for Weather Underground.

Second-last we have Weatherzone. Weatherzone appear to base their data on Metservice, so it should be pretty good. I like the rain radar maps which are clearer than some that I've seen. Click here for Weatherzone.

Last up is my favourite tool for assessing the current state of the weather. It's an often underused tool [particularly by those who rely too much on technology]. It's great for working out the situation right now, and with a bit of practice, can be useful in forecasting what is likely to occur of the next few hours. This great tool is called get off your butt, go take a look outside :-). Now if you're looking for a "click here for..." link, you might have missed the point...!

Well, that's it from me. Do you have a favourite weather site? Perhaps you'd like to share it with the rest of us? Leave a comment against the post to share with the rest of us! If there's enough interest, I may even put up another weather-related post.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Evidence

My passenger from the 13,000 foot flight [click here to read] has sent through some photos from the flight, including the important one! Thanks Amy. Top to bottom we have:

The evidence! Altimeter plus other instruments
Still climbing, but close [middle-right hand side is Wellington, in the distance is the South Island]
Heading back to Wellington, at the Te Marua water reservoir, only about 3500 feet at this stage

I am now wondering if it is worth while getting current in the PA38-112 Tomahawk, to see if it can reach this high??! looks like the service ceiling is 13,000 feet, but that's probably with a factory new aircraft at minimum weights, not a 40-odd year old airframe with an old engine.. I'll see... I need to save some money first!

I love long weekends!

Yep, I do. Especially when they coincide with weather that is great for flying! The past couple of days have been fantastic, and as you'll note from my previous post, I managed to take the Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT up to 13,000 feet two days ago. Today's weather was fine - a bit more of a breeze and some cloud, but still very flyable.

Today I took the same aircraft up for a more local flight. I had intended heading off to practice various manoeuvres, but half way through the Pencarrow Departure procedure, I could see that that was never going to work out - lowering cloud and rubbish visibility had me obtain an alternative clearance up to the Hutt Valley [via the Pencarrow and Eastbourne sectors] where I did a few turns before heading back for some circuits.

All in all, a nice hour of flying. Here are a few photos I took. Top to bottom we have:

"Mid" Hutt Valley looking south towards the city/ aerodrome
Over the harbour, looking west to the city
Matiu/ Somes Island
Bluebridge ferry heading to dock in Wellington [pity about the reflection...]

Sunday, June 01, 2014

RNZAF, Air NZ and Jetstar

This final post from today's spotting consists of an RNZAF Lockheed C130H Hercules, NZ7004, an Air NZ Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXD and a Jetstar Airbus A320-232, VH-VGT.

Enjoy these photos and if you're lucky enough to live in New Zealand, enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Yep, the camera is working again

If you've read my last post, you may have guessed that my DSLR camera is back after its sensor clean. Today I gave it a good workout with a variety of aircraft landing and taking off at Wellington. Here are a few of the light aircraft.

Top to bottom are:

Cessna 172S, ZK-CTY, registered to CTC Aviation training of Hamilton
Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, registered to Wellington Aero Club starting that big radial engine
Piper PA2R-201, ZK-EIF, also registered to Wellington Aero Club

In other news, I get to go flying again tomorrow. It'll likely be a shorter one this time. Maybe a local flight and/ or a few circuits.

13,000 feet up and all is well!

Weather wise, it has been a fantastic couple of days here in Wellington! Although cold, there has been very little wind, no cloud and combined with a long weekend, is making for perfect flying conditions.

Yesterday I took the Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT, up for 1.5 hours. Another Club pilot [Hello Amy!] came for a ride and we headed out over the east coast of the lower North Island for a good look around. To get the best look around, we headed up to 13,000 feet [about 4 kms straight up], the highest we can fly without oxygen. The visibility was so good that we could see Mt Ruapehu to the north and had great views of the South Island [at least the northern parts] to the west and south. Fantastic!

ZK-FLT is only a 160hp model, so with fuel, 2 people and a couple of small bags it was struggling up at 200-300 feet/ minute at the end, but it was well worth it!

We came back overhead Martinborough and Featherston then down the Hutt Valley to Wellington.

I'm waiting for a few photos from the flight to arrive - I'll post these when they appear. Meanwhile, here's our aircraft for the day and a brief screen-grab from my phone on the way up [yeah, I forgot to get another one while up there - Amy got a photo of the altimeter, so I'll post that laters]. It's GPS-derived data - even so the altitude only about 100-200 feet out at any time and the speed is ground speed

Saturday, May 24, 2014

No photos today...

... because the camera sensor needs a good clean. In the last week a number of horrible dust marks have attached to what looks like the sensor in the camera - the spots are in every photo, not viewable on the optical viewfinder and are the same even after changing lenses. It's time to take it in to a professional to give it a check out. I suppose I am unable to complain, since it has been almost 5 years since I purchased it :-)

It's unfortunate that I didn't get any photos today as the weather has been just about perfect for photography at the airport. High winds, crosswind also, may some of the arrivals look funky and the departures more so. I saw a BAE J31 Jetstream being moved around for quite some time after departure - I guess that was a very busy time for the crew [not sure if they had an passenger on board]. This was one of those days where I am very happy to have been stuck on the ground!

Needless to say, with winds gusts up over 100kph [around 54 knots] at times, there has been no GA flying in the area either.

Anyway, the camera will take a few days for me to get sorted, so hopefully some more photos next week!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fairly quiet today

It was a typically quiet Sunday at Wellington airport today. I managed to photograph just a couple of less-usual aircraft as follows. Top to bottom are:

Gulfstream-American GA-7 Cougar, ZK-CGR, of a Wellington address
Beech C90A, ZK-SKL, registered to Skyline Aviation of a Napier address

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nothing but blue skies

Yep, today was an absolute cracker! Very little wind and nothing but blue skies all day long. needless to say that Club was busy all day with a full booking sheet, busy and happy people going about their aviating. I didn't get to go up, but I'm thinking about a spare slot tomorrow I might take... we'll see, I doubt the weather will be great two days in a row!

Anyway, a couple of pictures and a [totally non-aviation related] video... top to bottom we have:

The view across the apron to the international terminal
Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO about to blast off on another flight
Nothing but blue skies...
... and lastly, Willie Nelson's Blue Skies :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The night rating commences...

... ok, so it really started with a flight last year, but this is my first night flight of 2014. It was just a session of circuits in the Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-FLT. It was well after ECT [Evening Civil Twilight], but there was plenty of light around. I was kept on my toes with having to hold for other arrivals and departures as well as a fairly steady crosswind - about 20 degs right of centreline and 10-15 knots. Crunch, bounce and shimmy might be a reasonable description of many of my landings tonight!

From what I understand, the next session will consist of various system failures in the circuit [that should be fun!], maybe a bit of work out of the circuit then I'll probably be off on my first solo.

Here's hoping for good weather next Sunday evening!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Headsets, lighting and aeroplanes

Despite the rather gloomy look, cold breeze and occasional spits of rain, today was a good day for flying. Several of the Aero Club aircraft went flying which is great to see as a grey sky seems to put some people off for some reason...

I didn't get to go flying myself, although I am preparing for the night flying training tomorrow night - here's hoping for good weather! I have got myself prepared with a couple of torches [one of the head-mounted for the ultimate in convenience] and the arrival of a Lightspeed 30 3G ANR headset. Tis was purchased off Trademe during the week [for overseas readers, it's roughly a local equivalent to EBay] I've had a bit of a play with it, but nothing in a plane so far - another reason to try and go flying tomorrow night I guess!

It is amazing the difference it makes even just sitting on the ground - turn on the ANR [Active Noise Reduction] and the background noise just fades away to nothing. Silence, wonderful silence! I know it won't be that quiet in the aircraft, but it will make a huge difference.

Anyway, for today I have two photos. The first is an Aero Club operated Piper PA28-161, ZK-MBG, which is undergoing a repaint and other maintenance. The second is a Piper PA38-112, ZK-EYJ, operated by Canterbury Aero Club in Christchurch.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A bit hopeful perhaps...

... but still... I checked the lights on the aircraft earlier today and I've wrapped one of my torches with red cellophane. I just need some new batteries for the head-mounted torch and I'm good to go for some night training.

Can anyone sort out the weather for me? Good weather needed leading up to and during next Sunday, 5-8pm :-)