Another flight and some bad news

First the bad news - I failed the Navigation exam... again... Apart from being gutted I cannot continue flying for another couple of weeks (while I apply to retake the test), I am angry at myself for screwing up so badly.

Right, now thats out of the way onto the good stuff. One of the PPLs who runs the Aero Club bar offered me a ride up to Ardmore in one of the clubs Piper Archers (the one in this picture). I readily accepted.

Normally this trip takes about 60 minutes in a car. With a small amount of assistance from a 15 knot tailwind we arrived in about 25 minutes. It never ceases to amaze me how the airplane shrinks the world. The main highway I know so well was a distant feature of the ground far below us as we sped north. The airspace around Ardmore is rather cramped as it lies on the south eastern side of Auckland International and south of Ardmore is the Drury glider strip, which according to the AWOS was active. So we had to thread a needle to get into the circuit but fortunately the southwest arrival procedure is not that complex when runway 21 is active. We joined downwind and I counted 4 light aircraft and 2 helicopters in the circuit and a 767 landing at Auckland as we slowed for the base turn. Chris said he looked back and saw 3 planes downwind behind us. He executed a very nice precision landing (he has 170 hours but hasn't flown for 6 months other than the obligatory 3 takeoffs and landings the day before to get current for passengers) and we taxied clear.

Ardmore is essentially a GA airfield, with no scheduled commercial traffic and therefore no ATC. It does have a Unicom monitoring things in case someone does something stupid or needs some information. The buildings all around are a mix of old WW2 hangers, maintenance sheds and newer buildings all housing various aircraft, aircraft sales yards and flying schools. We saw various aircraft from Harvards, a Cessna Birddog, a DC3, a decrepit looking Bristol Freighter, a Beaver, a few Yaks, a F86 Sabre lying in pieces, and one of my personal favourites a Grumman Widgeon. And this was all in amongst the Cessnas, Pipers and Airtourers buzzing around the circuit.

We were fortunate enough to see the DC3 take off on a scenic flight. I will never tire of hearing a couple of radials at full throttle, and the DC3 didn't disappoint. We saw them land and it was the most graceful landing I think I have ever seen from such a large aircraft.

Chris and I wandered around the buildings peering into hangers and talking to the people lovingly cleaning their planes. The only downside to this trip was that we both forgot our digital camera's so we've decided to go up some other time with our cameras and take a flight on the DC3 as well!

On the return flight I took over and flew us home. From 1500 feet visual navigation was quite easy as we had 30km visibility but there was the odd patch of shower cloud sweeping across the country that we had to avoid. There was some light turbulence but it was no big deal. After listening to the ATIS we decided to head around the CTR to get a better run at the active runway. I was half expecting the tower to direct us to use the northern arrival procedure but they let us make a right base for Grass 26. I flew us in and then Chris took over for another precision landing. This one wasn't as good as the one at Ardmore but it was better than any of mine would have been. The return flight had taken 35 minutes for a total of 1.2 on the hobbs. An awesome flight and a wonderful trip.


Chris said…
I wouldn't worry too much about failing the exam, at least when you pass it you will thoroughly understand the subject due to extra study.

I only just scraped a pass at the met exam, and in some respects I can't help feeling that it would have been better for me to have failed that one. That way I would have been forced to spend more time trying to make sense of it. As it is now I have to admit I don't have a whole lot of confidence in my met knowledge.
Oshawapilot said…
Don't fret, Euan, you'll get there. :-)

I must admit you are making me somewhat paranoid though, as I'm still due to write my exams soon.

The pics were interesting. The flaps on that birddog are astounding - what is that, about 80 degrees of deployment? Wowzers!
Euan Kilgour said…
Thanks guys. I will go over the Nav manual from cover to cover and memorise as much as I can.

And yes Chris, I feel the same way. Will you have to have the gaps in your knowledge endorsed by an instructor before you are allowed to sit the checkride as you are required to in NZ?
Euan Kilgour said…
Oh yeah Mark. The pics are courtesy of Phil Treweek who hosts the excellent site. Most of the aircraft in his pics that I've used are the ones that I saw when I was there. That Birddog with what looks like air brakes rather than flaps is an example.