Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Killing Zone. How and why pilots die

I have just finished reading a very interesting book, called The Killing Zone. How and why pilots die.

Obviously a fairly morbid, yet attention grabbing, title, but well worth a read.

The author, Paul A Craig, is an American instructor pilot and the book looks at examples of, and reasons why, pilots crash their perfectly good aircraft, often [though not always] with rather fatal consequences.

It is obviously based on the author's experience and research and makes a few asumptions relating to the American environment. For example, it appears that private pilots in the USA end up with a night rating along with their PPL, and a sizable percentage of PPLs in the USA get instrument ratings. Both of these would be unusual in New Zealand. It would pay to keep in mind that examples of rules and practices can be materially different in New Zealand.

If I were to summerise the book, it would be to say that when a pilot has little experience and takes risks, they are more likely to end up the guest of honour at a party you don't want to be at. Secondly, if you actively manage risks [including having personal minimums] and continue to learn [higher licences, instruments ratings maybe type ratings and a bit of dual], that party is more likely to wait until you're much much older. 😀

The Killing Zone is well worth the read. It would be interesting to know if the statistics in New Zealand are similar - maybe an interesting research paper for someone?

Anyway, if anyone wants to borrow the book, I'm happy to lend it out - you'll need to pick up from me in Wellington of course, or get your own copy from

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Beechcraft Bonanza, currency and another ADSB installation

The Bonanza

Today's interesting aircraft was a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, ZK-TRC, which is registered to a Warkworth [north Auckland area] address.

The Bonanza was designed in the 1960's, originally with a V Tail instead of the normal vertical tail seen on ZK-TRC. I've never flown a Bonanza, maybe one day, although I do have the Nanchang to get my head around, and to enjoy, first!

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, ZK-TRC

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, ZK-TRC

In other news, I flew a Cessna 172 for the first time in just over three months today. It was a dual checkout for currency and involved a flight to Paraparaumu, three circuits with a crosswind component of around 11-12 knots and then returned to Wellington. Fun times!

I have an instructor on board for the flight [club rules require a dual checkout if a pilot is not current] and another pilot in the back along for the ride. The aircraft was Cessna 172S, ZK-CEO.

Another ADSB Installation

The owners of Piper PA28-161, ZK-KAT, which is online with Wellington Aero Club now has an ADSB transponder installed, along with some other minor updates.

Here's hoping someone gets a photo of this aircraft onto, as it is now appearing on and other similar services 😀

I hear that, weather permitting, ZK-KAT and ZK-EKE [also ADSB equipped] will be heading down and around the South Island in the next few days, so keep a look out as they come to an aerodrome near you!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

More Nanchang training pictures

Yesterday I received a very welcome gift of some more photos of the Nanchang CJ6A, from Tim Gorman. Tim took these photos between my first two training flights on 27 July, when my instructor and I were in Paraparaumu for a short time.

The first photos is of the arrival [I'm in the back seat], then parked up after refueling, taxying for departure then airbourne.

Since this, I have had a cross country to Hastings, Waipukurau and Masterton and a couple sessions of circuits, culminating in my first solo on type. Hopefully just one or two more flights and I'll have a type rating.

Anyway, here are the photos. Thanks Tim!

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, owned by Wellington Warbirds Ltd

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, owned by Wellington Warbirds Ltd

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, owned by Wellington Warbirds Ltd

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, owned by Wellington Warbirds Ltd

Monday, August 12, 2019

Wellington Airport's official reopening October 1959

Last weekend I was given a copy of the offical souvenir booklet from the reopening of Wellington airport, way back in October 1959.

This reopening occured after the airport was rebuilt with a new sealed runway, a runway extension [how topical!] and associated infrastructure.

The booklet is 70 pages long and contains parts of the history of the airfield, along with numerous contemporary aircraft and pitches from aircraft manufacturers. There are mentions of the various airlines that did, or could have flown in as well as Wellington Aero Club and some pretty awesome photos of aircraft long gone for the skies.

BTW - it is Wellington Aero Club's 90th anniversary this year, so stay tuned for more on that over the coming months!

Anyone who follows my twitter feed [] will know that I have tried, and failed, to claim the awesome prize of free flights from NAC, TEAL and Trans Australia Airlines, along with two weeks accomodation and spending money [£50!], to the Surfers Paradise in Australia. Looks like being born after the opening didn't help my cause...! I was looking forward to flights on the Electra and Viscount in particular 😀

Anyway, here's the title page and a couple of others. I hope that over the next week or so I can photograph all 70-something pages and recreate a PDF. I know that there's some interest in it, so once it's done, I'll look at making it available. Do be patient with me though!

Anyway, here are the photos as a taster of what is to come.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

More circuits, and then... even more excitement

Before I get into the meat of this post, special thanks to Paul Le Roy, a local photographer [and a very good one at that!] who supplied this photo of my instructor and I bashing the circuit yesterday. Thanks Paul! Hopefully there are more pictures like this to be had in the coming weeks, months and years!

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, owned by Wellington Warbirds Ltd
Anyway, I wasn't expecting to fly today. I didn't have a booking and the weather wasn't forecast to be great.

Ever optimistic however, I put all my flight gear in the car and headed out to the Club... only to find that two slots had come free... so flying for me!

After the usual preflight and worrying about whether or not I'd manage to start the engine from cold [it's a 9 cylinder radial, I think you have to experience it to understand!], it all worked out well and it wasn't too long before the instructor and I were airborne for some more circuits.
The wind was a bit odd for Wellington - we don't usually get much crosswind, although today was one of those days we did. Thankfully the crosswind died away just above the deck.

Until the instructor jumped out of course [thanks Andrew!].

Yep. My first solo in the mighty Nanchang CJ6A today!

I left it at a couple of circuits as that crosswind picked up - by my second landing, there was a 12 knot crosswind component, gusting up to 18 knots. It ended up being one of the better crosswind landings I have done, but still a great time to quit in case I ended up doing one of the worst on the next circuit! 😀

Obligatory post-first solo photo!
That's a big thumbs up from me after the flight! BTW - it's not shown well there, but it's an Aeroflot t-shirt that I'm wearing... didn't have anything Nanchang-y available for the occasion 😀

It is amazing what you can get up to at an Aero Club. Click here to find your local club!

So, what's next?

In a couple of weeks I have another flight to a different aerodrome, to polish up operations in a "normal" circuit. A bit of dual and a bit of solo and I should be close to the rating being signed off. Happy days!

Lastly, would you like to fly this amazing machine? It's currently only available to syndicate owners. So, if you have a PPL, at least 100 hours and can satisfy the syndicate owners needs [including the aircraft being based in Wellington and being willing to purchase a share], talk to me! We also happen to have a great instructor here to get you underway!

Saturday, August 03, 2019

More circuits

More circuits but no pictures from today.

Flying today consisted of normal circuits, flapless, side slipping, go-arounds, holding downwind [great practice for orbiting at a slower speed] and a weird thing of a different shape. This Nanchang is great fun! Oh yeah, my first cold start. I have more work to do on that!

I'm not explaining the "weird thing of a different shape".

I'm probably not flying tomorrow, so it may be a couple of weeks before the next flight.

Fun times!

Friday, August 02, 2019

700 reasons for a brief interlude

I recently finished another page in my logbook and on adding that up, came across another interesting, although rather arbitrary, milestone!

Yep, 21 years, 700 hours and about 14 aircraft types flown [just 8 that I'm rated in, with the 9th hopefully not too far off!]. It has been more fun than I imagined it would be when I took that first lesson aged just 26 years old on 28 February 1998!

I've landed on airfields large and small, in daytime and night time, on concrete, tarseal, gravel, grass and sand, level fields and on the sides of hills. I've flown around mountains, across islands and always managed to find my way home. Eventually [no need to comment Rob!]. I have even had 12 minutes of trying to keep a helicopter level [fail!].

I've flown over much of the North Island, some of the South Island, sometimes not seeing or hearing anyone for an hour or more, other times as close as a meter away from two other aircraft. I've even tipped a plane upside down a few times. Fun except for Mr Vomit coming to visit!😃! I've competed, judged and directed flying competitions. I now part own an aircraft [never thought that was going to happen!].

Some cheeky people would say I'm not that smart 😠, but I've managed to learn heaps from many instructors [shiny new C Cats through to grizzly old A Cats] as well as from other PPLs. I'm still learning. I have to, if I want that CJ6 rating! I've eaten more KFC than I should admit to, but hey, flying is a sport, so that's my energy source!

It has been fun times indeed and more fun times ahead!

BTW - I need another 300 hours and a world record for something. Ideas anyone?