Thursday, December 30, 2021

Why electric aircraft face such a tough haul: Joby edition

Here is an interesting video from AvWeb. A big part of it is a particular company's desire to create a network of eVTOL aircraft undertaking air taxi operations, but there are also some good comments on where electric aircraft are at right now.

tldr; They are not there yet.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

More Nanchanging today

Having hardly flown the Nanchang CJ6A for the last four months, it was time for a dual check. Today's flights consisted of a flight from Wellington to Masterton and some circuits, followed by a refuel and solo circuits, followed by a dual ride back to Wellington.

Fun times, but stinking hot in Masterton! Almost 28 deg celsius when we were there this arvo. Thankfully Wellington was a nice 20 deg with a cooling breeze when we got back.

Fun times, now for Christmas, then some more flying before I head back to work in a couple of weeks.

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you have a safe, restful and fun Christmas. See you all in the new year!

This image is from one of my 2021 trips up the Desert Road towards Taupo. Image may have been altered slightly 😁 As always, click on the image for a bigger version.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

100% synthetic fuel and the RAF

This is an interesting video from 3-4 weeks ago. The Royal Air Force trialling a 100% synthetic fuel in a light aircraft, made with 100% renewable energy.

Clearly it will be a way off yet - the cost of the fuel and the ability to scale up production [which are related of course] mean it's not coming to a fuel pump any time soon. Still, a 100% synthetic drop in replacement for avgas would be good.

Also, with something so bleeding edge, there's bound to be more than a little hype in the video, but the ability to provide the Royal Air Force with 100% synthetic fuel for ALL its aircraft is certainly worth aiming for. Of course if that happens, I'd expect the fuel would be widely available by then. Exciting times!

Anyway, here is the video. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Should parachutes spin?

Here is an interesting video I found on spinning parachutes, auto-rotating rotor blades and more.

Basically, it's a comparison between descent rates of simple parachutes, ones that rotate during descent and rotating blades as a replacement for parachutes.

It's interesting enough as a video, but there are also brief mentions of lift and drag for those that get excited but that 👍


Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Don't try this at home... 😬

It's almost Christmas, so it is time for a present of some Bob Hoover aerobatics!

Please don't try this at home... or the local aero club.... or other flight school... 😬 


I am hoping to have some more of my own flying adventures to comment on soon - just need the weather to improve so I can get my BFR done.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Pipistrel Virus. Not, not THAT virus...!

Yes, I know, what a name! Pronounced differently of course, but yeah, still comes across as odd 😁

I was watching a video from Mojogrip [included below], who does a bit of an introduction to the aircraft, but the short version for the 100hp fuel injected version is around 147 knots at 15.5 litres per hour. Some say [social media commentary, so maybe unreliable] that real-world performance may actually be about 130knots at 19 litres per hour.

With those more conservative figures, it would be an impressive 643nm before it goes very quiet.😬 That would be around 12 litres per 100km. When you consider that aircraft can often maintain straight lines more easily than cars and don't have to slow down for road works, it is probably as efficient as most cars out there, excluding battery only models like the Teslas. Very impressive.

I'm still not sure how it would handle the turbulence we get in much of NZ around the mountains [probably not great], and an approach speed of around 55 knots will not be ideal in some situations, but the performance is still very impressive!

Anyway, click here for the specs on the official Pipistrel site if you are interested and here is the video from Mojogrip.

The video is from 2019, but it appears to match the Pipistrel website's specs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Wellington Aero Club's new website and blog

Wellington Aero Club has recently put a new website online. Included is a blog of recent news.

It's well worth looking into if you want to keep up with the Club news. Click on the image to go direct to the blog.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

It happened again 😁

Last night was the annual Wellington Aero Club dinner and prize giving. Like last year, it was held at The Pines, a function centre on Wellington's south coast. A fantastic location and highly recommended!

Here are a couple of pictures looking south from the deck of The Pines. The hills in the distance [behind the setting sun in the first picture] are from the South Island.

There was also the matter of the prize giving. A lot of worthy recipients, plus me 😁 For the second year in a row, I received the Instrument Flying Partial Panel trophy. Will it be three in a row? We will have to wait until next year and see.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

A biplane version of the Hawker Hurricane...!

Every now and then I come across something that I never would have thought of and which is at the same time, ridiculous and very interesting.

This biplane conversion of the famous Hawker Hurricane would have to be one of those things. Add on the intention to be able to jettison the wing in flight. Almost unbelievable!

It sounds nuts, and basically was. I think this short video of what was now designated the Hillson FH.40 Slip Wing Hurricane says it best. Enjoy the next nine minutes! 😲

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

This is why I don't fly in clouds... :-)

This is a fairly good description of why I don't fly in clouds. Some of the comments, particularly at time 9:08, might be a little more focussed on airliners, but they are good none-the-less.

From position 9:40 until 10:38, it also provides a brief description of how I was controlling the aircraft during the recent Flying NZ regional competitions held in Whanganui 👍

Fun times!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Flying NZ Cook Strait regional flying competition

Last weekend I was up in Whanganui for the Flying NZ Cook Strait region competitions.Unlike the previous four years, I wasn't the Competition Director [Thanks Leroy for doing that this year. Well done!], but I was given the role of Chief Ground Judge [so LOTS of time out on the landing grid], as well as competing in the Wigram Cup Basic Panel Instrument Flying competition.

A fun day and one that was well organised by Flying NZ and the Wanganui Aero Club.

For me, the weekend started with a flight to Whanganui in Wellington Aero Club's Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE on Friday. My competition was done in a Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk, ZK-TAW on Saturday and the flight home on Sunday was again in EKE.

I didn't get any pictures during the competitions - I was too busy with managing safety on the grid and ensuring the judging was up to standard, but I did get some on Saturday evening and on the flight home.

First up is the de Havilland DH112 Venom, ZK-VNM. This was pulled out of its hanger and turned some Jet A1 into noise and kinetic energy. Nice!

de Havilland DH112 Venom, ZK-VNM, operated by Wanganui Sea and Air Charters

This Supermarine Aircraft Spitfire Mk 26 Replica, ZK-SPT, was pushed out of it's hanger to make room for the competition presentation dinner. What an awesome machine!

Supermarine Aircraft Spitfire Mk26 Replica, ZK-SPT

It looked great in the dark also!

Supermarine Aircraft Spitfire Mk26 Replica, ZK-SPT

I am always impressed at the quality of photos on my new iPad Mini 6. here are a couple as we passed over Paraparaumu airport and a cockpit photo of EKE.

NZPP - Paraparaumu airport

NZPP - Paraparaumu airport

Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE, operated by Wellington Aero Club

Oh yeah... competition results. I managed a First Equal in my competition. I'm quite stocked with that! I guess the practice helped. Well done to Mads from HBECAC who was also first equal - a great guy and friendly rivalry [rumour has it, I might has tried to convince Mads that I was so bad, that he would win even if he didn't compete... 😁😁😁 ... didn't work!].

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

First flight in an electric aircraft!

Last week I had my first ever flight in a fully electric aircraft!

This aircraft is a Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL. This aircraft is registered to Electric Airline Ltd of a Lyttelton address. The previous week the aircraft had flown into Wellington, in what was the first flight of an electric aircraft across Cook Strait.

The aircraft itself essentially a re-engined Pipistrel Alpha, with the Rotax engine and fuel tank removed and an electric engine and a couple of battery packs [one in front of and one behind the cockpit] added. 

It was easy enough to fly - apparently, someone who is familiar with the Rotax-powered Pipistrel Alpha would only need one flight to introduce the new engine and power management - everything else is the same.

It was a neat aircraft to fly. We cruised around at between 65 and 75 knots - a bit slower than what I am used to, but fine for what we were doing. It is of course a very light aircraft [MCTOW of 549 kgs] and so moves around in the air a bit - no different to any other LSA [such as the Tomark SD4 Viper I was rated in a few years ago]. It was also quite comfortable to sit in.

As for noise, my goodness, it is a quiet machine. The prop made a bit of noise [as expected] and there was a bit of a whistle out of the airframe when I got it out of balance, but yes, it is very very quiet.

The panel is laid out quite nicely with a mixture of digital and analogue instruments. In the following photograph, the right-hand panel is all about batteries and power usage.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, instrument panel

The one big downside is that endurance is very limited - to the extent that I doubt it is currently useful in flight training [I know there will be different views on this!]. That's not a big issue - it's still a good aircraft and endurance will improve. This is the future for general aviation! It would be interesting to see it operated at an uncontrolled aerodrome with a take-off, vacate the circuit, climb to 3000' AGL, and undertake 4-6 stalls [or 2-3 FLWOP exercises for that matter], then return to the aerodrome.

As an example, at the start of my flight, the batteries were fully charged, and at the end [around 0.6 hours], down to 30%, which is roughly 30 minutes reserve. To be clear, there's no way I was flying it as efficiently as it could have been, but it is a limitation - one which will undoubtedly go away as battery technology is improved.

Anyway, here are a few photos with comments as appropriate.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

This next picture is the recharging display in the aircraft. Included are displays showing the charge state, amperages, voltages and temperatures. Like other displays, it is easy to read and provides just the required information.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

The front battery compartment. As you can see, this would be fairly easily removable if required. Just to the right of the big orange plug is a display showing the charge state and battery condition.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

The seats are quite comfortable, and the four-point harness is also comfortable. The stick position and throttle have a nice feel to them also.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Front left to right are the throttle, brake [there are no toe brakes, but you really don't need them] and the flap handle. The brake handle might take a little to get used to, but is fine. I thought that the flap handle was a bit awkward to operate, but again, I guess it'd get easier with a bit of practice.

The brakes are interesting. There are no toe brakes, just the single brake lever as shown below. That's no problem, because with an approach speed of around 50 knots it doesnb't need much runway. When  the throttle is pulled right back, there is no thrust being generated and it comes to a stop quickly. 

We only used the brakes twice during the flight - once at the holding point to stop us rolling backwards, and after the flight when I parked it up.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

The electrical system is pretty simple. BAT EN followed by PWR EN switches on and the motor will run when the throttle is pushed forward. Simple!

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Here is the ballistic parachute systems. This is located behind the right hand seat.

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

It is certainly a good looking machine!

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Pipistrel Alpha Electro, ZK-EAL, operated by Electric Airline

Anyway, thanks to Electric Airline, and Andrew [the instructor] for the ride. Definitely a fun little machine and an indication of where things are headed.

Those of you keeping an eye on things will know that there are plans for 2-4 seat aircraft with 100 knot + speeds and around 3 hours endurance. I suspect that future is closer than we think. I can't wait [but I'll still fly the Nanchang!]!

* Correction: corrected the MCTOW figure

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Ice Pilots episodes

Many of you will remember the TV series Ice Pilots. It is a series looking at Buffalo Airways, based in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. This airline flies freight, and some passenger, flights in the frozen north of Canada. Buffalo Airways has a number of historic aircraft in its fleet, including the DC3, C-46, Lockheed Electra and the DC4!

Over the past moth or so, several episodes have been uploaded to Youtube, along with a number of other reality type series on different topics.

It's well worth a watch, especially for those of us who have found it hard to access this series in past years due to geographic restrictions on distribution.

Anyway, click here for the Buffalo Airways playlist and enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Competition practice and other flying

Last Saturday dawned fine and so was a good day for a couple of flights.

First up was a refresher on partial panel instrument flying in the Clubs Piper PA38-112 Tomahawk, ZK-TAW. This is prep for the upcoming [Covid19 permitting...!] Flying NZ Cook Strait regional competition. There is more practice to come [and needed!], but flying the old Traumahawk is always a bit of fun.

Second flight of the day was a quick trip to Paraparaumu [NZPP] for a couple of circuits then back to Wellington. All up, this was a 1 hour flight in the Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE. Good to hear some friendly voices on the radio also. The following picture is the track I took to/ from Paraparaumu.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A quick flight with some new gear

I had a quick flight around Wellington today, mainly to test out my upgraded iPad Mini 6, which arrived in the last week. The software is Avplan-efb, with all the official maps and AIP documents installed.

While I didn't expect any issues, I figured it was a smart idea to test it while I am in familiar airspace and with some backup maps (both the printed variety and Avplan installed on my phone).

No problems of course and it was a nice day for a flight. Out via the Owhiro Sector and in via the Ward Sector and a couple of touch and goes to finish off the flight. Today's flight was in the Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE. Hopefully next weekend I'll have another flight in the Nanchang.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

San Antionio Sewer Pipe parked up at Wellington

Last weekend, this Air Chathams-operated Fairchild SA227-AC Metroliner, ZK-CID, was parked up at the aero club.

It has been many years since I last flew on one of these - it was in the days of Origin Pacific from memory, although I also flew on them when operated by the now shut down Eagle Airways.

Fairchild SA227-AC Metroliner, ZK-CID, operated by Air Chathams

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A new arrival

Here is a new arrival for Wellington Aero Club - it's another PA38-112, ZK-JHF. This aircraft is owned by WASSI, but will be used by Wellington Aero Club when not required for the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School.

Piper PA38-112, ZK-JHF, operated by Wellington Aero Club

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Desert Road Corridor and on to Taupo

I have only been up the Desert Road corridor once before, so it was good to see it again. Last time was clear skies. This time we flew up and back down with a bit more cloud and a bit of rain, although neither of them affected the flights.

It's a magic flight along this corridor, squashed between pieces on military airspace over the Waiouru training area, although I wouldn't want to be here in low cloud or poor visibility! In these first two photos, it's only the tops of the mountains that are obscured. The corridor itself was quite ok.

Mount Ruapehu

Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro

A few nautical miles north of the Desert Road corridor is the town of Turangi. There is a small grass airfield [ICAO designator is NZTN] just out of town, as shown in the following photo. I haven't been in there yet - maybe another day.

NZTN - Turangi airfield

The ultimate destination for this flight [prior to returning to Wellington] was Taupo airport. The pilot who flew up and another passenger picked up a Piper PA38-112 for the return trip and I got to fly the Cessna 172N, ZK-EKE home.

NZAP - Taupo airport

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Departing Wellington, flying overhead Paraparaumu

You may have seen my last post about going for a fly last Saturday. In case nobody has guessed the location of the mystery aerodrome, I won't mention the flight's destination, but here are some more photos from the flight.

I was a passenger on the outbound flight and this gave me plenty of time to take a few photos. First up are of the main terminal and apron at Wellington, a couple of photos from the Hutt Valley, followed by a less usual angle on Paraparaumu - this was taken as we prepared to go controlled VFR [visual flight rules in controlled airspace] to to Palmerston North and beyond.

Anyway, I hope you like the photos.

Main apron at NZWN - Wellington International

View from the Hutt Valley looking south

View from the Hutt Valley looking north

I particularly like this view of Paraparaumu. It not only shows the layout of the aerodrome, but also shows the remnants of the old style "A" layout of the past, along with the encroachment of the township. From memory, when I first flew into NZPP, there were two sealed runways available - the current one plus the old vectors on the right hand side of the picture.

NZPP - Paraparaumu aerodrome

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Take a guess. Where is this?

Last Saturday I got to go flying. Firstly as a passenger to another aerodrome, followed by me flying the aircraft home. We came across this strip of seal somewhere. No, we did not land there.

So, time for a quick competition.

  • Where is this runway is located?
  • Extra points if you know what its ICAO designator is/was
  • Extra extra points if you know who the operator is/was

One point for each correct answer for a total of three points on offer. No prize, except the respect and admiration of your fellow pilots!

No clues! 😁

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Lockdowns and no flying until recently

Things have been slow on the posting front recently. Until recently, all of the New Zealand was subject to a Covid19 lockdown [Auckland continues to be locked down as of writing this], so it was only last weekend that I was able to go out and have a flight.

The past couple of days I was able to get out for a trip up to Whanganui, and while there, I popped into the Wanganui Aero Club [Hi Jonathan!] for a quick look and a chat and got these photos.

The first is a Wanganui Aero Club operated Cessna 150H, ZK-CTF, with the student about to head off for some solo circuits.

Cessna 150H, ZK-CTF, operated by Wanganui Aero Club

This second photo is perhaps a little rarer - Air Chathams had a Saab-Scania SF340, ZK-KRA, off on a trip to Auckland. Rarer with Auckland still in lockdown, though once that lifts, domestic flying will get back to what has become the new normal fairly quickly.

Saab-Scania SF340, ZK-KRA, operated by Air Chathams

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Wet and windy Wellington

Here is a brief video from Wellington airport after the wind turned to the south and increased in strength and the rain set in.

#CantBeatWellingtonOnANiceDay 😂

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Currency and ballast

On Saturday. I realised yesterday that I had not flown for about a month. Furthermore I wasn't current on the C172. So, rather than a couple of circuits, I went for a dual ride to do some turns, stalls, a FLWOP, low flying and a rejoin. Fun times and I feel rather more current now.

Following this I got to be ballast on a type rating flight, as part of a MAUW [Maximum All Up Weight] check. Again, fun times, and it's always good to sit in the back as someone else is flying the plane! The aircraft was Wellington Aero Club's Piper PA28-161, ZK-KAT.

Here are a few pictures on my ballast ride.

Next weekend should be interesting also, as I'm going to fly a Piper PA38-112. Fun times indeed!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

More Nanchang flying

Last Saturday afternoon I had the opportunity to go flying in the Nanchang CJ6A, ZK-MAO. The weather was nice enough, but a bit lumpy in the Southern Wairarapa with mild and fairly consistent turbulence from Turakirae up to Lake Onoke.

Still, it was a fun flight of just over 30 minutes. We're still running the engine a little harder as part of the run-in, so I was cruising at 270-280 km/hr [around 145-150 knots]. Still, fuel consumption was about normal for a slightly lower power setting [mind you, I did lean the mixture], so I can't wait to see what it settles at when we are back to normal power settings in a few hours.

Anyway, a couple of photos. The first is looking north over Lake Wairarapa. The second is looking to the east. Both of these photos were taken at around 1,100' AMSL. The photo was taken on my phone, hence the artefact from the prop interacting with the camera sensor...

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Cessna 182 at Wellington

Today's photo is of a Cessna 182T, ZK-JLR, which is operated by Ragged Point Ltd of a Nelson address. This was seen at Wellington on Saturday afternoon.

I think a Cessna 182 would be a really nice aircraft to learn to fly... maybe one day!

Cessna 182T, ZK-JLR, operated by Ragged Point Ltd

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

A couple of rides on Sunday afternoon

Last Sunday afternoon I was able to go on a couple of quick flights, both times as a passenger. The first was a ride up to Paraparaumu with Vincent flying the Cessna 172N ZK-EKE.  The ride home was in a Piper PA28-161, ZK-KAT, courtesy of Pete.

Both of these were fun and as always, it's great to be able to sit back and relax while someone else does the flying 😁

I've got just a couple of photos of the flight back to Wellington as we raced the daylight to get home about 15 minutes before ECT [evening civil twilight... or night time].