05 August 2015

Graphical SIGMET

As of 29th July, MetFlight users will now see Graphical SIGMET diagrams when loading up a weather briefing for the NZZO and NZZC flight information regions.

This is an excellent move by the provider, replacing the confusing paragraphs full of coordinates that took place of the plain English SIGMET descriptions back in November 2013. Skyvector.com was a go to place for many of us, as the website coding overlays these latitudes and longitudes onto the VFR and IFR sectional charts without requiring a log in- however having it all in one place by one provider is far more convenient and informative to the layman!

An example of today's weather is shown below as an example:

Further information about the new product can be found here:

It should also be noted that MetFlight GA access has once again been made free of charge to use, four years after the CAA controversially changed it in August 2011 to a pay to access service. To log in, use your pilots licence number in the Username box, and the initial issue date for the Password. (This is to entered d/mm/yyyy format, with no leading zero on the day but with a leading zero on the month.)

New Excel Logbook Product

Recently I was sent a sample of the CAA New Zealand Pilot Logbook product from www.excelpilotlogbook.com which I'm happy to report is now my go to digital backup of my paper book.

When I began flight training I originally designed my own spreadsheet to keep a digital copy of my flight hours, that I ended up uploading a blank template of to the blog for others to use. However, the commerical product that I've copied all my data into far supersedes this with plenty of customisable total tabs, IFR currency and duty hour countdowns, graphical analysis of the last month's flying, as well as individual aircraft totals, and behind the scene formulas that calculate the amount of take off and landings you have made in each type within the last 90 days for legality sake. 

A one time payment of $29 US will get you your own copy, compatible with desktop Microsoft Excel, the Excel App, as well as Numbers on Mac & iOS. Download it from: http://excelpilotlogbook.com/caa-new-zealand/

19 July 2015

Ardmore 'Tornado'

A powerful low pressure system made its presence felt in Auckland yesterday, tracking over the region from west to east during the late morning. The active band of thunderstorms it contained wasn't particularly thick, however the preceding gust front winds caught many by surprise- uprooting trees, blowing down fencing and even overturning several light aircraft out at Ardmore that had previously been tied down!

The mainstream news reported several 'mini tornadoes' witnessed my members of the public, with social media linking the buzzword to the events that occurred at Ardmore, although having been at home just three minutes drive away, I can't say I noticed any form of rotational wind myself during the passage of the storm. Gusts of 40 knots had been forecast in NZAA's morning TAF, with the highest gust of the day being recorded as 41 knots (76km/h).

The rain radar as of 11:20AM on the 18th
ZK-AWN ('Merv') resting inverted on the tail of fellow C162, ZK-VCG
ZK-JAZ on it's back outside the Auckland Aero Club
A camera installed inside Yuri Vorontsov's car happened to capture the exact moment that the 172 above was flipped vertically, which he has sent in to me and given permission to be reposted here:

Jaribu ZK-DIZ parked a few meters away also succoured a similar fate, and has been documented over on the NZ Civil Aircraft blog.

15 July 2015

DC3 Update

Managing to complete my type rating in the DC3 required a lot of patience. Waiting for the sun moon and stars to align was an analogy that was thrown around more than once, with our chief pilot only being available on select days that he wasn't captaining a B777 around the globe for his day job, and my friend who I'd been paired with for our simultaneous conversion training taking several holidays over the last couple of months. That and the weather- always an excuse that's used with delays relating to anything of significance in aviation, which I'm guilty of using myself countless times on this blog.

Anyhow since my last update, we managed to schedule a several more sessions of circuits in the old girl, and I think I've made something like 25 or 30 landings now, only really getting the hang of keeping it straight down the middle of the runway towards the end of the training program. With our left hand engine producing slightly less power output than the right, we were taught to lead with the left throttle to keep the thrust as symmetrical as possible. I'd found setting the right amount of split between the two levers a bit of a challenge resulting in a swing off to one side during the go around roll, but managed to kick the habit after swapping into the jumpseat and being able to observe my buddy's hand positions during the same procedure, and then mimic them.

I also achieved some rather 'positive' touchdowns during those circuit lessons, either chopping the throttle too early- a habit I'd picked up flying the much smaller twins, or flaring too high and picking up a high rate of descent. Thankfully it all started gelling together in the end and I now have the privilege of reading the words 'Douglas DC-3' inked on my type rating page in the front of my logbook!

All going to plan, I'll have several flights in ZK-DAK to report back on later in the month, but for now I'll just add a couple of great photos captured by my brother who came out to Ardmore back in March during the aforementioned training sessions, and a cheeky selfie from last weekend:

One Rung Up

It's been a while since I've updated the site, mainly due to the fact that I haven't been doing a great deal of flying lately.

The survey pilot role that I'd held since April 2014 was a weather dependant flying job- even more so than parachuting was. Rather than just waiting for a 2km x 2km hole in the clouds to arrive before I could begin work, we needed complete CAVOK conditions without any cloud shadow at the majority of the sites I flew, leading to the somewhat frustrating requirement of always being available to go, yet only flying perhaps once a week on average.

I really enjoyed the job when I was able to work, but to put it into perspective (bearing in mind this was more or less classified as a full time position), I've only added 70 hours to the logbook since the beginning of the 2015, which we are now well and truly past the half way mark of!

As fate would have it, through joining the DC3 syndicate I caught wind of a new Part 135 operator 'North Shore Air' who would be commencing scheduled passenger operations later in the year, as well as being offered a line pilot position with the company. The new gig ticked all the boxes for me: more frequent flying, an Auckland base, the comfort of knowing I'd be flying a well maintained airplane and most importantly, daily IFR ops that would give me the much desired consistency and routine that I've been missing.

It seemed like a no brainier to me, so after gathering some advice from a few elders of the industry- all of whom agreed with my thinking, I accepted the job at NSA as well as handing in my notice to PAS. During the autumn, I spent some time training up a replacement pilot on the C310 before completing a type rating course on my new steed, the eight seater PA-31 310 Piper Navajo that is now based up at Dairy Flat aerodrome (NZNE).

I'm really looking forward to the public announcement containing our route structure and start date, which I'm told isn't very far away now, along with all the flying that I'll be getting to do. Needless to say I'll have a bit more content to blog about over the second half of the year now that I've stepped up the next rung on the career ladder!