Saturday, June 30, 2012

Itch scratched

After a couple of months of no flying, I managed to scratch that particular itch today. With the weather the way it was, I only managed to get some dual circuits in and then some solo circuits... maybe some stalls and forced landings next time... Anyway, it certainly felt good and I think I managed to do it without scaring the instructor [or passenger] too much :-) Oh yeah - there wasn't that much heavier traffic around today, I managed to get through circuits super quick.

A couple of other visitors include these two from CTC in Hamilton - A Diamond DA20-C1, ZK-CSD and a Cessna 172S, ZK-CTD.

Vincent's Lifeflight Jetstream J32

Finally, several weeks after it entered service, I have managed to get some pictures of Lifeflight's latest air ambulance, a British Aerospace Jetstream J32, registration ZK-LFW [formally VH-OTR]. I was looking forward to seeing this aircraft with its awesome livery - you'll see why when you look at the following images.

The livery was designed by Weta Workshops [as in Lord of the Rings and other great movies!], and the aircraft is operated by Vincent Aviation.

The final photo is a close-up of the left-rear of the aircraft showing the Vincent Aviation and Weta Workshop logos.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hmmmm, it has been a while...

I took a look at when I last flew, and it turns out that it was around 2 months ago! That's a loooooong break for me, and although I did a fair amount earlier this year with Flying NZ Nationals and all that, it's little wonder I'm feeling like a have an itch I need to scratch!

I have a good reason in that I've been saving up for a big trip a little later this year, but I think that I might be in a position to do a bit of itch-scratching later this month or early July. I certainly hope so, as it's getting quite annoying turning up the the aero club just to hang around [as much fun as that can be] knowing I'm not going flying!

What is worse is that today would have been a really good day to head up and off into the sky! Oh well, hopefully I'll be able to jump into the Cessna 172 shortly. I think I'll take an instructor - just who do I select as my victim? :-)

Here's a picture from today of that itch-causing aircraft... Cessna 172, ZK-FLT from the aero club.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

RNZAF Beech B200 Super King Air

With the weather the way it has been the last couple of days, it has been a quiet day down at the aero club. Today it was gusty cross winds. Wellington airport being the place it is, it's always quiet on the weekends anyway.

I did get to see the following however, parked up on the RNZAF apron and then taxying. I didn't get to see the departure, but from what I heard, it was very lumpy... Anyway, here is an RNZAF Beech B200 Super King Air, NZ1882.

Nowhere to land - TACA 110 - video

Here's a really nice video from Air Crash Investigation - one where not only was a Boeing 737 landed without engines, away from an airfield, but where everyone survived and the plane flew again!

Too nice not to share, and it says a lot for having both competent and experienced crew (not to mention awesome decision making and hand flying skills)!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Airline Android apps - Air NZ, British Airways and Easyjet

Updated 8 June 2012

I'm doing a bit of a trip later this year, and for the first time, I've got almost all my pre-holiday planning organised [or at least available] on my Android phone. OK, so only 9 flight sectors and 2 hotels, but still - much easier than being totally reliant on paper.

I'm mainly flying Air New Zealand [5 sectors], plus 1 sector on Virgin Atlantic, 1 on BA Cityflyer and 2 on Easyjet. It's a good time to do a quick comparison of the airline Android apps which I use to track my flights.

Firstly, I was surprised to not be able to find any sort of mobile app from Virgin Atlantic. No great drama, as I'm travelling on an Air New Zealand ticket, but still...

Air New Zealand
The Air New Zealand mpass app perhaps has a bit of a "head start" on the others, as it is the one I use for most of my flying. I really like the fact that it is simple to use, fast, looks good. What's more, for domestic flights, it contains a barcode to allow me to check in [not available for international flights], and a very easy to read summary of upcoming flights. 2-3 days out from a flight, I get "on time" information and my seat allocation. New Zealand airport terminal maps are a bonus, and it's easy to check up on my frequent flier points. Nice.
Air NZ's mpass application. Home page and My Flights page
There are a few other features [take a look at the first screen shot], and the only big thing missing is any ability to search for an book a flight. It's a big omission, but one I guess Air NZ will correct in due course.

British Airways
The British Airways app is ok but not great. I'm not quiet so keen on the user interface, but it is not too bad. There are more taps than what should be neccesary, but information is easy enough to find.  It does allow for online check in, but for some reason, it requires the booking reference number and passenger surname to complete! A bit silly considering the app has your booking details available. However, upcoming flight details are easy to find and read though.

British Airways My Booking page
The bonus compared to Air NZ's app is the ability to search for and book flights. Sure's it looks like it's just embedding a mobile version of the full website, but at least I don't have to change apps. A bit of further investigation indicates that if I had an Executive Club account, there might be more features, but this is not available in this part of the world. In fact, BA refers me on to Qantas [who don't have an Android app at all]

The final one I installed was the Easyjet app. First impressions were not great with an annoying startup animation and the bright orange blaring out, but once in the app, the options to book a flight, view booking or check flight status are all there. Selecting the booking information is easy, although if you have more than once flight booked, you have to scroll. One thing I dislike are the attempts to upsell on the booking detail screen. Not pleasant, but I suppose that is what is to be expected on a cheapo airline. The flight booking page is much better than the BA version - it was clearly designed for mobile from scratch. Just a pity about the constant annoying attempts to upsell left, right and centre...
Easyjet My Bookings page
A glaring omission is any ability to check in using the application.

All in all, I prefer the Air NZ app. OK, so maybe I'm a little biased since I do most flying on Air NZ, but the app provides me with clear, concise, flight information, domestic airport maps, up-to-date frequent flier points and a good UI ... with the addition of a booking page it would be about perfect [ok, a booking page, and the ability to do seat selection would be perfect!].

One more point - I tried to get hold of a Qantas app, just to compare, but they don't have an Android version available! Nuts...! :-(

So, what are your experiences? Agree with me? Disagree? Have a preferred app from another airline? Share a comment. Except perhaps you AgentK - I know what you think of Android :-)