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