Sunday, June 23, 2019

No more Cessnas for me today....

After yesterday's amazing weather, it turned a little rougher today, with cloud and rain from midday. It did make for some interesting pictures those with a lot of water being blown about during takeoffs and landings.

First up was the regular Singapore Airlines departure to Melbourne which blew a lot of water around as it departed.

Boeing 777-212/ER, 9V-SQN, operated by Singapore Airlines

Boeing 777-212/ER, 9V-SQN, operated by Singapore Airlines

Boeing 777-212/ER, 9V-SQN, operated by Singapore Airlines
Next up is an Air New Zealand-operated Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXJ slowing down after landing.

Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXJ, operated by Air New Zealand
Last up is another Airbus A320-232, this time VH-VFJ and operated by Jetstar Airways.

Airbus A320-232, VH-VFJ, operated by Jetstar Airways
Here's hoping for better weather next Saturday, for another night flight :-)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The day of the Cessna

I had two flights today. The first was 0.8 hours in a Cessna A152, ZK-ELS, where I went up and did some turns [max rate turns are fun]. Yep, that's pretty much all I did :-) The top of this image shows where the turns were conducted, although the Flightradar ADSB trace is not perfect at all [my turns were much rounder than this suggests!]...

The second flight was for night currency. I had 1.2 hours of dual following by 0.5 hours of solo circuits. This was mainly some turns in the Hutt Valley, a wee bit of a look around the city and some circuits. For my solo circuits, I managed 4 of them which is pretty darn good at Wellington with the mix of traffic and the large circuit]. Fun times. The dual flight looked a bit like the following photos.

All in all though, a lot of fun and really good to get back into the saddle at night. I now have about 26 night hours all up. I'm not aiming for a particular target, but more getting more experience feels good!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Cessna 152 aerobat online at Wellington

Just a quick announcement that Wellington Aero Club has, for a couple of months or so, a Cessna A152, ZK-ELS, online for training and members to hire.

The aircraft is owned by Kapiti Aero Club and we're happy to have it around. Being an aerobat, I suspect that there might be a bit of that turning upside down thing involved also for some members.

Cessna A152, ZK-ELS, operated [for a limited time!] by Wellington Aero Club
Want to know more? Contact Wellington Aero Club.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Motueka and Pilot Proficiency

I've just gotten around to getting some photos off my DSLR and phone from last weekend's flying around, so here are a couple of photos from the beautiful Motueka aerodrome.

Motueka was not one of my original landing points, but with cloud int he way of my planned trip to Karamea and then Westport, I diverted here for fuel and to replan. It's from here that I ended up heading off to St Arnaud [and then Omaka] as seen in my last post.

This first picture is on Motueka as I passed over at about 3,500' when I was still planning to get to Karamea. It was taken on my phone camera, so not great, but still!

NZMK - Motueka Aerodrome
This second picture is obviously my ride for the day, Wellington Aero Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE, on the ground at Motueka.

Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE, operated by Wellington Aero Club
This picture is the clubrooms of Motueka Aero Club. It's a really friendly place to drop into if you need a break or just to stretch your legs.

Motueka Aero Club's clubrooms
Last up is a quick plug for Flying NZ's Pilot Proficiency programme. It's a great way to recognise ongoing skill development and experience in aviation and is open to members of all Flying NZ clubs!

There are awards suitable for solo students, right through to crusty old PPLs like me and CPLs. The awards are also relevant to microlight pilots who are operating under Flying NZ's Part 149 certificate. The website has more details.

For clubs, it's a great way to recognise achievement in your members and to encourage to keep on flying!

Anyway, when I got back from my trip, I found that the Gold award that I applied for had come through. Yay! The sticker fit nicely underneath that C150/C152 type rating sticker from Wanganui Aero Club [thanks Leroy!] :-)

Flying NZ Pilot Proficiency Gold Award

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Visiting St Arnaud

No, I've not been visiting any saints, and certainly the Frenchman St Arnaud is named after was hardly saintly []!

However, on 3 June, I did fly over an amazing part of New Zealand, which includes the St Arnaud range and the township of St Arnaud, along with Lake Rotoiti. Being the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, there's snow at the top of the hills.

St Arnaud Range and Lake Rotoiti
St Arnaud is located west-south-west of Blenheim and more or less south of Nelson. Both worth visiting in their own rights. It is also quite close to Nelson Lakes airfield which can have intensive glider activity, although there did not appear to be any on this day.

St Arnaud township in the foreground of Lake Rotoiti

I'm having trouble with the quality of video from one of my cameras [I think it is all to do with how it is mounted], so the pictures in this post are a few snapshots of frames from the original video. I think you'll agree it looks awesome! I can't wait to go back in the middle of winter and see how much more snow there is.

I should mention that this was part of a much larger trip that included visiting the Marlborough Sounds, Motueka, Omaka and back to Wellington. Hopefully, I'll have some video from the rest of the trip I can use later, but for now, I've included a screenshot of part of the flight path from Avplan.

The green line was my flightpath when capturing these shots [the blue line was the plan]. Ignore the other info - it was taken later when I was at home. I did not have a ground speed of -2 knots...!

For the more technically inquisitive, the aircraft is Wellington Aero Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE. This has an approved camera mount under the right wing. I was flying at 6,500' and the temperature was around 2-3 degrees celsius. Toasty :-) Anyway, here are some more photos.

This last image is looking down the Wairau Valley towards Blenheim and Omaka aerodrome.

I think you'll agree it's a fabulous part of the country and understand why I want to go back soon!

It's also hard to believe that this is just the day after a series of truly awful weather days, with airliners diverting and flights being cancelled.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Christchurch to Wellington, via Hamilton (!), dinner and a good night's sleep

Yesterday [1 June 2019, depending on when you are reading this!], I popped down to Christchurch for a Flying New Zealand executive meeting. These are one-day affairs so I had an A320 flight down at 08:30 [Airbus A320-232, ZK-OAB, in case you're interested], with a plan to come back that evening on a 17:05 departure from Christchurch.

The flight down was uneventful enough, with generally smooth conditions [a couple of lumps leaving Wellington] and clear conditions until about halfway when we were in cloud for the rest of the flight. Christchurch was very wet with standing water everyo\where, includin off the sides of the runways and over local roads etc.

The flight was on Air NZ, the following Jetstar aircraft was just a random photo I took during the day. If it looks a bit dark and gloomy... that's because it was like that.

Airbus A320-232, VH-VGA, operated by Jetstar Airways
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you may not have noticed the rather rubbish weather has been rather widespread recently, so on Saturday morning, Air NZ was offering flexibility for anyone who wanted to move their flights forward, which I did.

Here are a couple more pictures of the gloomy and wet day that was Christchurch. The picture quality isn't great, but I was shooting through two or three thick panes of glass, with the outer one being rained on :-)

Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NES, operated by Air Nelson/ Air NZ

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVO, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ

The earliest flight I could rebook on was a 16:05 departure on an ATR72-600, ZK-MVH. I must say that it wasn't looking hopeful at getting to Wellington even at that point, but in due course, the barely half full ATR72 got started, taxied out and we got going on what should have been a 40 minute direct flight to Wellington.

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVH, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ
I guess that you can read the title of this post, so it doesn't take much to work out we didn't make it. Due to the weather in Wellington, with winds gusting up over 50 knots, strong crosswinds, and a whole heap of other aircraft trying and diverting, we ended up diverting to Hamilton - about another 40 minute flight north.

Hamilton is nothing much to get excited about [some say that Hamilhole is a better description!], but there was the chance that the winds would die down and we'd get on another flight back to Wellington that evening.

Did not happen. Ha!

So, after flying much further than expected, we arrived in Hamilton.  A few minutes after landing, I was walking to the airport hotel for a feed and a sleep, before flying out this morning back to Wellington.

Photo of the terminal from my hotel room
The same view after a sleep
Around 07:30 the next morning I was back in the terminal checking in for an 08:15 departure. It is surprising how easy it was to recognise people you mostly had barely a glimpse of on a flight the evening before!

Our ride for the trip home was another ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, which is still in the older livery, presumably as it will be replaced by a newer ATR72-600 at some time. The following image gives a reasonable view across to the control tower. You can also see that the weather is rather nice [but cold].

ATR-GIE ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, operated by Mount Cook Airline/ Air NZ
Anyway, here are a few photos from the flight itself. I had none of the arrival, as it was fairly lumpy. All of these photos were on my phone camera, so the quality is not great.

A few minutes after takeoff - still lovely weather [although cold]

A few minutes north of Whanganui

Look closely and you can see Whanganui beneath the cloud
Anyway, soon after this, we arrived to a cold and lumpy Wellington. It was a "sporting" arrival, but not at all uncomfortable.

A few notes about the diversion experience.

  • Firstly, the diversion could not be helped. It will have been absolutely the right decision, so there's no reason to moan or complain.
  • In-flight comms from the crew were great. There was a clear explanation of why we were diverting, where we were going and we all knew that we'd be looked after on the ground before we arrived.
  • The Captain came back after the flight to give some more explanation and to offer to talk with anyone who wanted to.
  • For me, an overnight pack of essentials [toothbrush, toothpaste, antiperspirant, shampoo, a tshirt even laundry detergent, a comb and a few other bits and pieces] was offered by the Air NZ ground crew - really helpful when I had no spare clothes or anything!
  • Accommodation, dinner and breakfast were covered by Air NZ. I didn't have time for breakfast, but it was all sorted if we wanted it.
Basically, I couldn't fault the airline response to the event. Awesome.

Lastly, this is the second visit I have had to Hamilton, where I've had to stay overnight without a change of clothes... I think I will need to plan a little better next time. I suppose at least on the last visit I had planned to go to Hamilton!