Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Holiday time. No lockdown. Lots of flying. It's a good time.

We are very fortunate in New Zealand. When the elimination approach to Covid 19, we've managed to get Covid 19 cases restricted to MIQ [Managed Isolation & Quarantine] facilities, albeit with the risk of an outbreak. No community transmission and a vaccine on the way. Good days!

This means that for all but recent arrivals, we have no need for a lock-down - something that many countries can only dream of! Even domestic flying is being built up again, although international flying is still extremely restricted.

No lock-down also means business as usual for private flying - all we need is good weather, which has finally arrived.

Earlier today I got to fly for the first time in December and about 6 weeks since my last Nanchang flight. The day was sunny, the turbulence non-existent and the air not too busy. In about an hour, I took off from Wellington, flew to Palliser Bay, followed the coastline around to the Palliser Bay lighthouse, then back again for a bit of "fun" near Lake Onoke then back for 3 circuits. You can do a lot in an hour at 250kph!

Anyway, here is the holiday photo. I'm hoping there will be more of these in the next few days before work starts up again 😀 Might be due for a haircut though...

Aviation in 1919!

I was recently given a very old book, published in 1919, called


That's not a spelling error 😃

So far, it appears to be focused on a combination of practical subjects such as aircraft manufacture and rigging, along with some theory and tips for training students. I'm sure it's going to be a very interesting read!

The book itself is hardcover and in surprisingly good condition for its age. I'm kind of glad I didn't have to read through and understand this when I was a student pilot though. Pretty sure that I would not have been interesting in how to assemble or rig an aircraft...

I have come across some interesting comments which will likely resonate with current day students and instructors though - I'll likely photograph and publish some of these as I read through the book.

It appears that the book has been republished and is available through the www.bookdepository.com, although I'm not sure how wide interest in this book would be these days.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Air New Zealand operated Boeing 767's

A wee bit of aviation nostalgia here, with images of an old Air NZ advertising pamphlet, promoting the introduction of their new Boeing 767's, on routes between Wellington and Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, starting in September 1986! Several copies of the pamphlet were left at the aero club a week or so ago, so naturally I grabbed one of them.

A couple of interesting notes from the brochure:

  • Passenger seating was 220 passengers (18 business and 202 economy) - about the capacity of Air NZ's new Airbus A321's
  • Special passenger features on these new aircraft include stereophonic music and the inflight video system
  • Special features in the cockpit included six cathode ray tube screens
  • There were at most only six return flights between Wellington and the three Australian ports [mind you, that's six more than we have now with the Covid 19 border restrictions...]
  • Lastly, Air NZ were still using TExxx [instead of NZxxx] flight numbers

From memory, the B767's would have been the first Air New Zealand wide body aircraft with a two-crew cockpit [no longer requiring a flight engineer] and so incredibly advanced for it's age.

I had a couple of flights between Auckland and Melbourne on B767's. The Business Class consisted of recliner seats in those days, which wouldn't even pass for Premium Economy these days. How things have changed!

Anyway, here are the photos.

If anyone has any additional details on these flights, that would be appreciated!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hopefully 2021 is a little less disruptive [especially when we all have the option of a vaccine...!] and there are more options for travel!

This picture was from a recent visit to Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Tecnam P2002 Sierra UL

Last weekend this Tecnam P2002 Sierra UL, ZK-LSF, parked up outside the aero club. This aircraft is registered as a microlight and is based at an aerodrome north of Wellington.

Tecnam P2002 Sierra, ZK-LSF

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Queenstown airport

Last Friday I arrived home after a brief visit to the South Island, which included a one day visit to Queenstown - one of the most spectacular looking parts of New Zealand.

The airport itself is surrounded by mountains, as the following pictures show. Many of the surrounding hills are within a couple of nautical miles of the airfield and rise several thousand feet above it. Amazing!

Here is one extra picture taken in the middle of Queenstown earlier in the day. Equally nice!

Finally, here is a brief video I took from inside the terminal as an Air NZ operated Airbus A320 departed.

I think I might have to do another visit down here one day and have a decent look around... maybe go flying - that would be nice!

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Gulfstream G650 at Wellington

Saturday's interesting departure was a Gulfstream G650, N650FX, which is operated by Flexjet. I say interesting, as we don't have that many visiting bizjets at Wellington and even less foreign bizjets during the Covid19 restrictions.

Gulfstream G650, N650FX, operated by Flexjet

Gulfstream G650, N650FX, operated by Flexjet

Gulfstream G650, N650FX, operated by Flexjet

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Dangerous Skies

Last weekend I had to pleasure of being the Chief Ground Judge for the Flying NZ Alpine regional competition. This was held at Omaka aerodrome near Blenheim and was hosted by Marlborough Aero Club.

I arrived after a Sounds Air flight into Woodbourne aerodrome on Friday evening. After checking into the motel (Cherylea Motel is really very comfortable and the prices were great), it was time for a brief visit to Omaka to see how things were set up and meet a few people.

It was stormy - thunder and lightning included - which made for a nice evening [nothing like a good storm to start the weekend off!]

Omaka airfield from the Marlborough Aero Club clubrooms

Competition day itself dawned cool with gentle breezes and ended very warm with close to 30 knot breezes. It was definitely fun watching others try to land and drop [simulated] bombs and liferafts in those conditions...

Dangerous Skies

Each regional competition finishes with a presentation dinner on the Saturday evening. Marlborough Aero Club arranged for their dinner to be held at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in their amazing WW2 display called Dangerous Skies. What an incredible place! It's not large, but exceptionally well designed! We were sitting in an open central area surrounded by old aircraft - what's not to like?

These first three aircraft are actually flyable [as in, they fly from time to time]. You probably wouldn't know it from what way they are integrated into the displays. just incredible!

First up is a Yakovlev Yak3M, ZK-VVS. This has previously competed in the Reno Air Races and still flies around the Omaka area.

Yakovlev Yak-3M, ZK-VVS, operated by Fighter Flights of Blenheim

Next up is a Flug Werk FW190A-8/N, ZK-RFR. This is also airworthy and one of very few of these aircraft still flying wordwide.

Flug Werk FW190A-8/N, Zk-RVR, operated by Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection of a Blenheim address

Last up is something a little different. ZK-AGC is a Fleet 16B and is operated by a local owner.

Fleet 16B, ZK-AGC

Next up are some equally impressive non-flying models.

First is a Lockheed Model 14. I understand that this is a real machine, rescued from a jungle somewhere and preserved with the display created around it. You'd be hard pressed to not believe that the "dirt" and many of the plants are not real.

Lockheed Model 14 display

One of the few "not real" aircraft in the display is this full-sized model of a Junkers JU87 Stuka which is hanging from the ceiling. Although low enough that I could reach up to one of the wheels, I completed missed this at first as I came around a corner and saw the Yak3M shown above 😐

Junker JU87 Stuka model

Lastly, it's worthy of note that this entire display is the work of local people. It is juts stunning. Well worth a few dollars to go and visit it!

There is also a WW1 focused display in the next building [entry is at additional cost] which is a little larger and also very impressive [and also with a number of flyable aircraft in the collection]. All-in-all, it's well worth a visit!

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Goat Farm visits

This past weekend Wellington Aero Club has hosted a visiting Piper PA28R-201T Arrow, ZK-TGF. This is registered to The Goat Farm and is based at North Shore aerodrome. As the name suggests, this Arrow is a 200hp Turbocharged version

Piper PA28R-201T, ZK-TGF, operated by "The Goat Farm"

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bombardier BD-700 Global Express at Wellington

Last weekend I saw a very unusual visitor at Wellington airport - and more-so because of a Covid19 travel restrictions - in the form of a Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express, N989SF. This aircraft is operated by Crystal Luxury Air.

What a nice way to travel if you can afford it!

Bombardier BD-700-1A10, N989SF, operated by Crystal Luxury Air

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Round-the-world Cessna 182 at Wellington

Yesterday I got to see something a little unusual in the Aero Club hanger - an American-registerd Cessna 182R, N9953H!

This aircraft is in the middle of an around-the-world trip which has been caught up in the Covid19 lockdown.

In addition to flying around the world, the pilot is seeking donations for a charity called African Promise. details of the flying, which has taken the pilot through the USA, middle east, down the Asia and Australia to new Zealand are on his website www.katamarino.com - a very interesting read!

Cessna 182R, N9953H

Sundry logos on the aircraft

African Promise logo from the aircraft

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Canterbury Aero Club PA28

About a week ago, this Piper PA28-181 Archer, ZK-LJO, visited from Christchurch. This aircraft is operated by the Canterbury Aero Club and was here on an IFR training flight.

Piper PA28-181 Archer, ZK-LJO, operated by Canterbury Aero Club

Friday, October 16, 2020

Cessna 510 Citation Mustang

I'm really in catch up mode now, with another photo from a couple of weekends ago.

This one is of Skyline Aviation's Cessna 510 Citation Mustang, ZK-VXM. I reckon these are great looking aircraft, but maybe just add some "teeth" on the front for a bit more "attitude"? 😂

Cessna 510 Citation Mustang, ZK-VXM, operated by Skyline Aviation of a Napier address

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The bandages have gone...

One of Life Flight's air ambulances has recently returned to service after a bit of a "birthday". The most obvious changes are the new livery and the introduction of 5-bladed props.

The old livery was the Weta-designed "bandages" livery. The new one is simpler but in some ways stands out better with the bold red fuselage.

British Aerospace Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW, operated by Air Freight for Life Flight

British Aerospace Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW, operated by Air Freight for Life Flight

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Marlborough Aero Club Cessna 172

Last weekend we had a quick visit from a Cessna 172E, ZK-OMR, which is operated by the Marlborough Aero Club from Omaka airfield.

It's a nice machine, with a mainly red fuselage and the rest being polished metal. From memory, it has a 180hp engine also, so it's got a lot of "up and go".

I've included a closeup of the decal on the tail - I've participated in the Health Bastards Bush Pilot Championships once and have watched a couple of times - it is a great spectacle but even better to participate in!

Cessna 172E, ZK-OMR, operated by Marlborough Aero Club

Decal on the tail of ZK-OMR

Monday, October 12, 2020

Visiting Archer

Last weekend we had a visiting Piper PA28-181 Archer, ZK-EBZ, which is operated by Mid Canterbury Aero Club of Ashburton [aka Ashvegas].

Piper PA28-181 Archer, ZK-EBZ, operated by Mid Canterbury Aero Club

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Piper Tomahawk time

Yesterday I flew a Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk for the first time in a while. It was a good opportunity for a bit of dual and a quick refresher on basic instrument flying. I am rusty 😀

The weather wasn't quite as nice as yesterday. It was a bit breezier which made things interesting but overall a fun time.

Aircraft for today was ZK-FML. Legend has it, it is the fastest Tomahawk in the country [that might be B.S. but it sounds like a good rumour....!]

Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk, ZK-FML, operated by Wellington Aero Club

Friday, October 09, 2020

Fabulous Friday Foray to Far-off Feature-rich Fields

Earlier this afternoon I took off from Wellington, headed to Whanganui to refuel, then up to Waiouru and the Desert Road corridor to Taupo, to refuel both the aircraft and myself.

After we both had a quick drink 😀 I took off out of Taupo, headed across to the western side of the mountains, then down around the Chateau, Ohakune, Whanganui and back to Wellington.

This was my first time into Taupo in probably 20 years and the first time I have seen the Chateau airstrip [I really do need to go visit it one day...]. The cloud was few to scattered at 6,500', and perhaps broken up against the mountains, so there were no hilltops to see unfortunately.

Also, unlike the trip from a couple of days ago, I had no passenger, so the quality of the photography has decreased somewhat... but here they are!

Heading north. Left to right: Mounts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, operated by Wellington Aero Club

Heading south. Left to right; Mounts Tongariro and Ngauruhoe

Heading south. Mount Ruapehu with the top 3000' hiding in the cloud

Lastly, thanks to those who made me feel welcome as I tripped around today! Kindhearted souls offered to throw me out of a plane in Taupo [it's not the fall that kills you...], invited me to visit their place near the Chateau [yep, need to do this!] and questioned why I wasn't visiting them in Whanganui [when they missed me a few hours earlier...]. Also, sweet-as ATC clearances departing and arriving at Wellington today! Thanks team! A great day to fly!

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Wairau Valley, Dip Flat, Omaka and Wellington

I start a new job next Monday, so this week is all about trying to get some flying in! Yesterday I went for a jaunt with Ger, from Wellington across towards Omaka, passing through the transit lane to the Domes reporting point, then up the Wairau Valley.

Near the western end of the Wairau Valley we turned left and headed up to look around Dip Flat reporting point, before heading back to Omaka to refuel and stretch the legs. From there, we headed back to Wellington. 

It was a good day for a flight and we had a lot of fun! Don't think I quite sold Ger on flying the Nanchang though! 😂

Anyway, here are some photos and video from Ger [thanks for sharing!].

Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO, operated by Wellington Aero Club

Crossing Cook Strait, looking north-west towards the Marlborough Sounds

Looking west along the Wairau Valley

Looking west as we track to Dip Flat

On the ground at Omaka

A view of Wellington City. A nice compact CBD!

A brief video looking west across the ranges.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Sounds Air Pilatus PC12

Here's a quick snap of a Pilatus PC12/45, ZK-PLZ I got last week. It's a really nice "corporate" livery!

Pilatus PC12/45, ZK-PLZ, operated by Sounds Air

Monday, October 05, 2020

Gulfstream Aerospace G650ER

This Gulfstream Aerospace G650ER, A7-CGD, was parked up at Wellington on Saturday, having arrived a day or so earlier. This aircraft is operated by Qatar Amiri Flight [according to their website] is a "private VVIP airline [which] operates exclusively for the Royal Family and high ranked government staff of the State of Qatar".

No idea what it is doing here considering the current Covid19 restrictions, but a guess would be to repatriate some Qatari citizens - that is of course only a guess.

Gulfstream Aerospace G650ER, A7-CGD, operated by Qatar Amiri Flight

Also looks like it has been a bit windy here recently... 😂

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Jetstar is back flying

It seems that when New Zealand's Covid alert level gets high enough to require social distancing, Jetstar Airways decides that it's not worth while flying. To be fair, it might not be financially worth it.

This means that Jetstar has recently started flying again after a shutdown brought on by the recent [now contained] Covid outbreak in Auckland... so, here's one of their A320's landing at Wellington last weekend.

Airbus A320-232, VH-VFL, operated by Jetstar Airways

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Today's flight

I went flying today in my Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO. The plan was to head overhead Lake Station and Murchiston to Westport for fuel, then overhead Karamea to Nelson for more fuel then home again.

The weather was mostly good, until I got just past Lake Station, where it was a rubbish, a bit rainy and with cloud down on the hills. I wasn't sure I could go south to get into Westport [and in any case, I didn't have a lot of excess fuel anyway], so I diverted to Nelson. After refueling in Nelson, I took a Bolder departure, then headed to The Brothers and back to Wellington for a 16 City Arrival. 

Fun times! In the followed screen shot from Avplan, the red track was the planned track and the green track is what I actually flew.