Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wellington arrivals

Here are a few pictures I snapped at Wellington today. All but the chopper were taken from a hill that I was experimenting with today. Unfortunately the sun wasn't much cop [I should have been there in the morning] and the chopper came in the evening as it was getting dark [I really should get myself a tripod!].

The chopper is a Kawasaki BK117 from Helicopters Otago. I'm not sure of the details, but it ended up on the Westpac Rescue chopper's pad, so I guess it's filling in for a few days [maintenance cover perhaps?].

The Qantas B737 and Mount Cook ATR72 are short final runway 16, and that last one is a seat on the top of the hill [I thought that the gorse bush underneath was doing quite nicely :-)].

Enjoy the pics!

Heli Otago BK117 ZK-HJKQantas / Jetconnect B737-400Mount Cook Airline ATR72Seat and Gorse Bush

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Young Eagles and a useful lesson

I had two good flights today, both of them flights for the Club's Young Eagles [YEs]. They were fairly quick flights of 0.7 hours and 0.8 hours each, but quite enjoyable. In both cases we took off, did an Eastbourne Departure procedure then out to Mana Island and back.

It was fun putting on the GPS and showing the YEs some of its features, including the difference between indicated air speed and ground speed, and airspace boundaries [and showing them on the charts and the ground as well]. The best lesson however was a demonstration of a limitation of the GPS. In this case, the GPS map does not include Mana Island...! It shows the importance of having up-to-date paper aeronautical charts [paper charts also work better if the electrics fail :-)].

The other nice thing that happened was that on the second flight the airspace was fairly quiet, and the tower cleared us from Paremata VRP [visual reporting point] to follow the motorway south [this is through the middle of the instrument sector] then to join right hand downwind for runway 34. Awesome [and thanks!]! It's good to see some different scenery and the YEs seemed to enjoy this as well.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Vintage Aviator

Further to my last post, the Vintage Aviator are [as far as I can tell] the manufacturers of the vintage aircraft. These guys are amazing. Learn more on their website. Click here.

The Old Stick and Rudder Company

While in Masterton, we were privileged to be able to have a look in the Old Stick and Rudder Company hanger. This place is amazing! It's like gold with wings :-) Here are pictures of some of the World War One era aircraft. Wow!

Top to bottom are:
- Fokker Dreidecker [Triplane] [Germany]
- Sopwith Camel [United Kingdom]
- Nieuport [France]. That monkey looks like someone I know :-)
- Nieuport cockpit [France]
- Avro 504K [United Kingdom]
- Pfalz D.XII [Germany]

Fokker TriplaneSopwith CamelNieuportNieuportAvro 504K????

Masterton or bust

Wellington Aero Club was due to have a Club trip to Masterton on Sunday. Unfortunately, with poor weather of Friday, and indications that it would continue for the weekend, the trip was cancelled. Needless to say, Sunday was a beautiful day.

I wasn't planning on going anywhere, but when the opportunity to grab a spare seat on Sunday afternoon came up, I thought may as well. I'm glad I did, especially as being a passenger both ways meant that I could try and get some pictures.

What follows are pictures during the trip over [first 3 pictures] and back [last 2 pictures]. The pictures are:

- Looking north up the Hutt Valley
- Looking south-east from the top of the Hutt Valley
- White-capped hills. The outside air temp was hovering about zero degrees [celsius]. Ouch.
- Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk ZK-JFE using the 10 times optical zoom lens to best effect.
- Looking south across the southern Wairarapa region.

Looking north up the Hutt ValleyLooking south-east from the top of the Hutt ValleyWhite-capped hills. The outside air temp was hovering about zero degrees [celsius]. Ouch.Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk ZK-JFELooking south across the southern Wairarapa region

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ardmore Flying School Cessnas

We had a visit on Saturday from two Ardmore Flying School [AFS] Cessna C172R's on Saturday. This was vaguely interesting for a couple of reasons. ZK-TAV is an aircraft [along with a number of other AFS C172's] that I have flown before - the last time around 9 years ago.

It wasn't a great day for flying [parking tail into wind for refueling isn't a great idea either], but the aircraft survived the night and the pilots got away on Sunday.

ZK-TAV Ardmore Flying School Cessna C172RZK-TAN Ardmore Flying School Cessna C172R

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Auckland Quick Visit #8: Auckland International: Night Shots

Getting good photographs at night time can be notoriously difficult with the need for vastly lengthened shutter speeds making a tripod, or some other mechanism for holding the camera still pretty much essential.

Add to this the difficulty of light reflections when shooting from behind glass and it almost makes me want to give up trying!

Last night however, I decided to give it another go. I had the worst of all worlds - night time, reflective glass and no tripod. I did however manage to get some very good shots with some nifty improvisation and playing with the night shot/dim light settings [which provided for a 4 second shutter speed and some noise reduction]. Placing the lens hard against the glass served two purposes. Firstly, it eliminated the reflections from the glass and secondly it served as an excellent proxy for a tripod.

Anyway, now to the pictures. The first two are similar except for the Lan A340 taxying past.

Night time AirbridgeNight time AirbridgeNight time Airbridge with Air New Zealand B737

Auckland Quick Visit #7: Auckland International: Lan

Here are two pictures of a Lan [Chile] Airbus A340 landing and taxying at Auckland. I don't know anything much about Lan, so can't comment any further... :-)

Lan Airbus A340Lan Airbus A340

Auckland Quick Visit #6: Auckland International: Emirates

These pictures are of an Emirates B777 taxying for takeoff then airborne. This was one of the few international departures I spotted [especially when we exclude Air New Zealand].

Emirates Boeing B777Emirates Boeing B777

Auckland Quick Visit #5: Auckland International: Postal

A visit to Auckland would hardly be complete without a visit to New Zealand's largest airport and a few photos. What struck me most was that during the time I was photographing [approx 1500 - 1645 hrs], the vast majority of the traffic was Air New Zealand [and subsidiaries], with very few others, including Qantas, Pacific Blue and others. Of the others, this and the next few in the series will show the highlights.

Like last time, most of these were taken from the next parking building in front of the domestic terminals.

The following pictures are of ZK-POH, a Fokker F27-500, registered to Airwork Holdings. This aircraft is used to transport mail/freight around the place for NZ Post [that's the NZ Post logo on the tail]. What was surprising was that the first of the photos is from its departure and the second after landing about 10 minutes later. No fire engines out, so I suppose it must have been a test flight or similar.

I remember flying from Wanganui to Auckland on an F27 many many years ago. Noisy is probably the best thing that could be said :-). They have been known as The Converter due to their advanced ability to convert jet fuel into noise!

NZ Post/Airwork Fokker F27 FriendshipNZ Post/Airwork Fokker F27 Friendship

Auckland Quick Visit #4: The Mighty Grumman [and Jase the instructor]

Next stop on my Auckland Quick Visit was the Auckland Aero Club. Until I moved to Wellington, I had been the Club Captain for 3 years [and a member for longer than that], so it was good to go back [as an aside, the Cafe at the Aero Club is still very good, and well worth a visit if you need a feed]. The actual reason for the visit was to meet up with my mate Jason. If I'm not mistaken, when I left, Jason either just had, or was soon to get, a CPL. Now he has a C-Cat Instructor rating and is practicing for his B-Cat. Jason and I were both into formation flying and just "doing the club stuff", so it was really good to catch up.

Part of B-Cat practice is obviously a lot of flying. Jason took me up on one of these flights and we went through an intro low flying lesson. Jason did the vast majority of the flying, demoing everything from turn radius at different speeds, constant radius turns and reversal turns. There wasn't too much wind, but he pattered through the various illusions that we'd get by flying into a headwind [illusion of slow flight] and tailwind [illusion of fast flight]. Jason then finished off with some circuits and glide approaches; for some reason, Ardmore was not very busy for such a nice day.

Anyway, here are the pictures. These are all from the circuit session, including Ardmore itself, the Oceania Aviation helicopter hanger, the simple Grumman AA1C panel and, finally, the man himself [sorry dude!].

Ardmore AerodromeOceania Aviation hangerGrumman AA1C instrument panelJase the ace pilot :-)

Auckland Quick Visit #3: Thunder Mustang

Third in this Auckland Quick Visit series, and my second big stop was to catch up with Rob Burns in Kiwi Thunder's hanger at Ardmore. Rob Burns is one of the record setting pilots who set the Auckland to Christchurch speed record in its class last year. I left Auckland about 2.5 years ago, and this has been my first opportunity to get up and personal with this stunning aircraft.

Even after a couple of years flying this aircraft looks immaculate in all respects. In many ways, it could have just come out of the showroom. Obviously, being hangered helps a lot with this, although I imagine that they must also have an attitude of [almost] no expense spared.

Rob allowed me to sit in the cockpit, and this was the first big challenge - how do I get in? It's a snug fit [to say the least], but still very comfortable. I was surprised by the visibility from the front seat [Rob says that the back seat vis is even better]. You'll see from the cockpit shot that everything is well laid out. BTW - that hole at the bottom of the panel is the hole for the GPS.

The second big challenge was to avoid looking stupid when my photo was taken. The helmet didn't help... Well, I got into the cockpit ok :-)

All in all, a very good evening, good drink and great conversation and catchup! Thanks Rob!

Thunder Mustang Hanger DoorsThunder MustangThunder MustangThunder MustangThunder Mustang

Friday, June 06, 2008

Auckland Quick Visit #2: Flight Experience

On arriving in Auckland [click here for previous post] and spending an hour or more getting from the airport to Botony Town Centre, I then spent another 2 hours trying to find Craig, who works at Flight Experience at Botony Town Centre. Flight Experience is an opportunity to get behind the controls of a fairly realistic flight simulator and go for a "fly", with one of the sim instructors acting as your co-pilot ["you guys" in Hamilton should pop up to Auckland or to Tauranga for the day, and have a go! "You guys" know who you are!]. Sims are available in various other centres as well, so check out the Flight Experience website. If they ask you where you heard about them, feel free to mention this Flying Geek blog [and no, I'm not up for freebies if you do, just in case you're wondering] :-)

Whether you are a pilot or not, this is an awesome experience, and you really should take up the opportunity to try it out. The setup is very realistic, including all of the buttons and switches you would expect, and details right down to moving auto-throttles and trim wheels. Even the seats can be adjusted, just the like real plane.

Unfortunately my pictures are not too good, and don't really to justice to the setup. It was only at Auckland Airport this evening that I remembered the "night shot" type mode that my camera has, and this would have done a much better job of the pics.

I got the opportunity to have a quick go at it for a few minutes between punters. All was going well until someone snuck in full flap and spoilers, followed shortly afterwards by the landing gear. I never did spot the spoilers and flaps until after we landed [don't mock, I had my eyes "outside"], but I still managed to land the thing, even if I had about 70% power until 50 feet! Thanks Craig. Thanks a lot :-)

One other little point... if you're in Wellington, I think that Flight Experience Courtney Central and Wellington Aero Club may still have a combo deal going - a flight in the sim and a flight in a real plane. Not sure of the cost, but it will be competitive!

Anyway, here's a couple of photos of the sim. As you'll see, the catch-phrase is "attention to detail"!

Flight Experience SimulatorFlight Experience Simulator

Auckland Quick Visit #1: Overview

As noted in my previous entry, Monday was a statutory holiday. In recognition of this :-) I arranged to take the rest of the week off also. A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a mate from Auckland ["hi Craig"] and he suggested coming up for a visit, which I did. Don't ya just love cheap airfares?

I also got to catch up with a couple of other friends, and it turned into an aviation holiday in several ways. Below are samplers of the coming photo series. This series will have titles similar to Flight Experience, Thunder Mustang, The Mighty Grumman [and Jase the instructor], and Auckland International. Not bad for 1.5 days in Auckland [with about 8 hours combined at Auckland and Ardmore airports!].

Anyway, here's the intro pictures, with much more to come in the next few days. Apologies for the scary picture of me in the Thunder Mustang [at least I am wearing the helmet!]!

Flight Experience SimulatorRodney in the Thunder MustangNZAR - Ardmore AirfieldAir New Zealand Boeing B767 taking off at Auckland International

Monday, June 02, 2008

Remote Adventure Cessna C185

Today [first Monday in June] is a public holiday in New Zealand [Queen's Birthday Holiday to be precise] and I thought that I'd pop out to the aero club to see if anything interesting was happening. Not much was the short answer, although there was this Cessna C185D registered to Remote Adventures of a Wanganui address. ZK-CKO appears to have been registered to the same name/address since it's initial registration in 1978.

It is a fairly windy, gusty day and it looked like the pilot was having to be very careful while taxying the aircraft. Still, they made it on to the runway and up and away with no dramas.

ZK-CKO Cessna C185D

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Simulated Instrument Flight

I went up for a flight today in a Piper PA28-181 for some simulated I/F. I hadn't done any for a while, and so knew that I would be somewhat rusty... as it turns out that was probably an understatement :-), but that I guess is why we practice these things. After a couple of turns and some straight and level, I did manage to do a good impersonation of someone almost holding it together. My safety pilot at least had a good chuckle!

It is a very weird sensation to have your your head saying that you're straight and level, or even turning right, and those dumb instruments on the panel [what would they know?] saying you're turn left and descending. The instruments were right. Every time :-) PEBCAC [Problem Exists Between Chair and Controls?]. Ok, so once I got a bit more practice, and worked out that the artificial horizon [AH] was not much cop for keeping level, I started using the vertical speed indicator [VSI] more and that helped a bit.

All in all, a good flight with 1.1 hours total with 0.4 of simulated I/F.

Why only 0.4 I/F? Well, we had about 0.3 waiting on the ground. For some reason it got very busy, with the usual scheduled traffic, plus a formation of 6 [yes, 6!] RNZAF UH-1H Iroquois helicopters coming in, an Air Nelson DHC Dash-8 forced to go around, a navaid calibration aircraft hanging around, and 4 of us "lighties" all wanting to go for a flight. Still, the sight of 6 air force choppers setting down at one time is pretty awesome :-) Sorry, no photos - too busy with runups and other things.

The choppers were there as part of the tribute events to Vietnam veterans, including today a memorial service at the National War Memorial and a celebration at the Basin Reserve [cricket ground].