Cross Country Time - but not in the Archer

Yes it wasn't in the Archer for two reasons: 1) Both UFS and FWS were already booked, and 2) Susan wanted to go for a ride in WAM. She also didn't want to go for a short trip overhead Hamilton City because she has done quite a bit of that already so I thought we'd head east to one of the Coromandel beach towns like Pauanui or Whitianga. Considering that the day I had chosen for the flight was Waitangi Day, I finally decided on Tauranga, primarily because I knew that the cafe at Tauranga Airport would be open.

I turned up at the Aero Club, checked the weather, did my route calculations, filed a VFR flight plan, preflighted WAM (including refuelling it as there was less than 60 litres in the tanks), and we were off. The weather was quite nice, cloud at 5000 feet, 2000 foot wind was 060 at 20 knots which meant our ground speed was going to be quite slow (I had calulated a 27 minute trip to Tauranga and a 19 minute return flight). Strangely enough we picked up most of our turbulence climbing out of Hamilton, and not crossing the Kaimai range as I had expected. Passing south of Matamata I briefly tuned into the Matamata MBZ frequency and did a position and intentions report as gliding was in progress. Although we kept our eyes out for gliders we never saw any but there was quite a lot of radio traffic in the MBZ. Overhead the Kaimai's I quickly tuned into the Tauranga ATIS and then called up Tauranga and reported in. And another first, the controller asked me to confirm my transponder code, which I confirmed was 3051 (WAM has a discrete transponder code - good for cross country's, bad for busting airspace :-) ). We were cleared for a Racecourse 1 (VFR) arrival behind a Cessna 177 Cardinal who we just followed in. Tauranga city is very picturesque from the air and the airport is actually over Tauranga Harbour in Mt Maunganui. We did a descent into a right base for runway 07 and didn't get clearance to land until I was about 150 feet above the runway. I was about to go around when they cleared me to land, I pulled out a nice landing and we taxied clear.

I wasn't entirely sure where to park so I ended up following the Cardinal over to the parking area outside Tauranga Aero Club and we pulled up next to him and shutdown. When I spoke to the Cardinal pilot as we walked out of the parking area he revealed he had never parked at Tauranga before either!

The Museum Cafe (its an aviation museum) was open and Susan treated herself to an iced chocolate while I had an energy drink. She asked me if I wanted to go through the museum but I declined because I've already been through it. I did however, pause to give them a donation.

We strolled back to WAM, I preflighted and we got under way. It was kind of wierd calling up ground control first but we got our taxi intructions and I taxied over to the warmup area, swung into the wind and did the runups. We were cleared onto Grass 07 for a Racecourse 1 departure. After the lineup checks and making sure Susan was OK I opened the throttle and away we went. The airspeed indicator literally sprung into life as the wind was 070 at 13 knots, I watched it jump from zero to 40 knots indicated in less than a second. I rotated at 55 knots and we were airborne. Susan exclaimed that she had never seen JGP perform that well, but she realised that we were only two up instead of four. I made my righthand turn at 500 AGL with some trepidation as there was a lot of helicopter traffic around at low level and they are notoriously difficult to spot. Once I got above 1000 feet I allowed myself to relax a little and concentrated on flying the departure procedure. It was a little bumpy but our ground speed according to WAMs GPS was 130 knots as we were being blown home.

Once we were clear of Tauranga airspace I checked in with Christchurch Information to update our ETA at Hamilton and set about getting my bearings. Again I decided to pass well south of Matamata to keep out of the gliding operations and we turned towards Hamilton once we were west of the township. When I was near the Mt Ruru reporting point I got the ATIS and called up Hamilton tower and was cleared into the control zone at 1700 to Mystery Creek. I started a descending turn towards Mystery Creek and at about 2 miles out our clearance was amended to join lefthand downwind for grass 07. I heard that FWS was in the circuit and that a light twin from CTC was on the VOR/DME approach for runway 36. We were instructed to extend downwind and approach from a 2 mile final in order to give the twin time to land safely. I was about to turn base when the twin indicated that they were going to perform a missed approach so I was cleared to land on Grass 07 right. FWS in the meantime was downwind and had been cleared for a glide approach for 07 left. I knew that in landing configuration WAM would be a lot slower than FWS which would be doing best glide speed which is 76 knots. They were well in front of us by the time we were cleared to land and as we touched down they were instructed to hold on the runway. I did a very nice landing, right on the stall horn (my logbook tells me I haven't flown WAM in over 4 months so its a good feeling to get in and pull off some great landings). We taxied clear and I dodged and weaved my way past parked aircraft to WAMs tiedown spot which is in a corner than requires a steady hand and intense vigilance in order not to hit anything.

A nice flight, a nice day, and 1.4 hours PIC time.


Rodney said…
Hi Euan... quick question if I may. You mention that you had not flown WAM [a C172R] for over 4 months. You also said that you had a passenger. Were you current on type???
Haiku Ambulance said…

This video is about a kiwi learning to fly.
Euan Kilgour said…
Rodney: I hold type ratings in the Cessna 172 and the Piper PA28-181 Archer. I had not flown WAM for some time but as you can read from recent blog entries I have spent quite a lot of flight time in JGP which is a 172N, so in the eyes of the law I was, and still am, current in the C172.

Haiku Ambulance: What a truly wonderful movie! I'm going to add it to my links.
Rodney said…
Awesome!! Sorry - I had not read your recent posts well enough!