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 - 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.

Lockheed C130H

This past week or so has certainly had some interesting weather! In Wellington, even us locals have been commenting on the wind, with gusts up around 60 knots [about 110km/hr] at times. On the past weekend, the crosswind component was gusting up over 30 knots at times.

As you may have seen from previous posts, this has provided a bit of excitement for those of us on the ground watching others landing with more go-arounds than I have seen on a single day previously. Still, as I always say "go-arounds are a perfectly normal procedure and nothing to get excited about". they can look interesting though.

This set of photographs is of a Royal New Zealand Air Force operated Lockheed C130H Hercules, NZ7002, landing at Wellington. You can see from the second photo that there was a strong crosswind, which is fairly unusual for Wellington, but very prominent recently.

Lockheed C130H Hercules, NZ7002, operated by the RNZAF

Lockheed C130H Hercules, NZ7002, operated by the RNZAF

Lockheed C130H Hercules, NZ7002, operated by the RNZAF

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Air NZ turboprops

Last Saturday, I had a brief trip to Christchurch and back on Air NZ. Both flights were in ATR-GIE ATR72 aircraft and were about as comfortable as you've expect in an ATR72 😀 The weather was fine during my flights which was nice, and everything ran to time.

As I noted in my past post however, Sunday was a "bit different" with strong gusty winds making for some go-arounds and [what I imagine to be] some fairly turbulent rides about the country.

Here are some photos of the Air NZ-operated turboprops which made it into and out of Wellington during the weekend. The first one is an ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVP, which just happened to be the aircraft I flew down to Christchurch on yesterday [could have done with a clean, Air NZ...].

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MVP, operated by Air NZ

ATR-GIE ATR72-600, ZK-MZB, operated by Air NZ

Bombardier DHC-8-311, ZK-NFB, operated by Air NZ

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A day for disruptions

Today was a day for weather-related disruptions at Wellington [and in other places]. This was perhaps most evident with a number of Airbus A320/ A321 and ATR-GIE ATR72 go-arounds and diversions.

Now anyone who knows anything about aviation will know that go-arounds are noting to get to excited about [they are a perfectly normal maneuver] also perhaps unusual for many passengers. On occasions where this also results in a diversion, this could be very inconvenient for passengers, but better to be safe.

In what is perhaps today's biggest disruption, an Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXJ [pictured below] departed Wellington, flew to Queeenstown, where it overshot [went around], diverted back to Wellington, had one attempt to land at Wellington, before diverting to Auckland. That would have been a less than fun time for both the passengers and the crew!

It is also the start of school holidays, so it appears that Air New Zealand used a number of Airbus A321 NEOs today which made for some interesting sights as these lovely looking aircraft flew overhead the airfield...

Anyway, on the the photos! All of these aircraft are operated by Air New Zealand. 

The first photo is an Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXJ. You can compare the size of this aircraft to the second and third pictures, which are of Airbus A321-271NX aircraft, registered ZK-NNG and ZK-NNA. You can click on the images for lager sizes.

Airbus A320-232, ZK-OXJ, operated by Air NZ

Airbus A321-271NX, ZK-NNG, operated by Air NZ

Airbus A321-271NX, ZK-NNA, operated by Air NZ

The following are photos of Airbus A321 aircraft after landing at Wellington. The first one is ZK-NNA [pictured above] and the second is ZK-NNG, this time on a subsequent flight, having diverted back to Auckland earlier in the day.

Airbus A321-271NX, ZK-NNA, operated by Air NZ

Airbus A321-271NX, ZK-NNG, operated by Air NZ

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Bombardier CL600

This image from last weekend is of an Australian-registered, but New Zealand-based, Bombardier CL-600-2B16, VH-BLM and is operated by BC Aviation Ltd of an Auckland address. I think these are great looking aircraft, even if getting a little old these days.

Bombardier CL600-2B16, VH-BLM, operated by BC Aviation
Bombardier CL600-2B16, VH-BLM, operated by BC Aviation

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Boeing 757-200

As followers of aviation in NZ will know, the only local operator of the Boeing 757 is the Royal New Zealand Air Force [RNZAF].

The RNZAF operate two of these aircraft in a quick change configuration, enabling them to transport crew and freight as needs arise. The cargo door is located between the first and second passenger doors, as seen in this photo of NZ7571 departing Wellington.

Interestingly, there has been a bit of publicity recently about the kiwi roundels, with it being the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the current version with the bright red kiwi in the middle. This aircraft shows that off quite nicely.

Boeing 757-2K2, NZ7571, operated by the RNZAF

Wednesday, September 09, 2020


An aircraft that has become increasingly rare over the years [and soon to be "extinct" from New Zealand skies] is the General Dynamic Allison Convair 44/580.

These days, the only local operator is Air Chathams, where the aircraft is used to transport people and freight between the Chatham Islands, Wellington, Auckland and occasionally Whanganui. It is unfortunately one of few local types that I have not yet had a flight on... I'll have to see what I can do before they are permanently grounded.

In this photo, ZK-CIE is departing Wellington to the Chatham Islands a few weeks ago.

General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580, ZK-CIE, operated by Air Chathams

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Visiting Archer

 From last weekend, here is a Piper PA28-180 Archer, ZK-DUQ.

This aircraft is operated by Kaikoura Aero Club and was parked up on what was an unflyable [for VFR flights anyway] day.

Piper PA28-180 Archer, ZK-DUQ, operated by Kaikoura Aero Club

Monday, August 31, 2020

An ORCa at Wellington

A regular visitor nowadays is Air Kaikoura Aero Club, who operate a couple of Gippsland GA8, including this one, ZK-ORC.

 Air Kaikoura have operated a VFR air transport operation between Kaikoura and Wellington for the past few months, in addition to their whale spotting operation.

Gippsland GA8, ZK-ORC, operated by Air Kaikoura

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cobwebs... gone

Last weekend I had a quick trip to Masterton in Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO. The weather was fantastic and the flying smooth.

One of the things I like about how we operate the Nanchang is that we have an Airswitch, instead of the typical Hobbs.

In most light aircraft, the Hobbs meter automatically starts ticking over soon after the engine starts. This is fine, and it allows for aircraft hire rates to appear lower, but it can cause some people [idiots all of them...] to rush the pre-takeoff procedures as they are paying the entire time the engine is running.

With an Airswitch, the timer only starts when your airspeed increases [typically on the takeoff roll] and finishes as you slow down after landing. The benefit of this is that pilots have no need to rush their start up, taxi, runup and shutdown procedures. This is particularly important in an aircraft with a larger engine, like the Nanchang with a 9 cylinder radial engine that needs time to warm up and cool down.

Anyway, the Airswitch time was only 0.6 hours (36 minutes) each way. On the trip to Masterton, this include an overhead rejoin, a touch and go and a second circuit before landing. On the way home, this included a look at the Orongorongo valley then back around to look at Mount Matthews.

 At owners rates, this is a fairly cheap day out 😀

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