A fun weekend

I had two pretty good flights in the weekend. One was a jaunt with my partners in crime Chris and Aaron up to Ardmore then back to Hamilton via Thames. The only thing that still bugs me is that I completely forgot my camera, so I couldn't get some photos of the excellent views we had flying over the NZ countryside in perfect flying conditions. Aaron flew the first leg to Ardmore, and he chose to take the route into Ardmore via the Hunua valley. This is the recommended approach for aircraft coming in from the south, and it was a good thing we did this because there was active gliding activity from Drury gliding strip, 4nm southwest of Ardmore. Aaron hadn't flown a 172 for some time and only has a few hours in them (most of his time is in various Piper types but he does have a 182 rating as well) but his touchdown at Ardmore was excellent.

We wandered over to the Auckland Aero Club cafe and had a soft drink/coffee/water while we waited for a guy to show up who was selling Aaron a car (the reason Ardmore was the destination). He went off to test drive it while Chris and I wandered around the aircraft sales yard looking at the different planes and dreaming about eventually owning one. We headed back to the aircraft so Chris could preflight before Aaron got back. Time was on the verge of becoming an issue as we only had about 100 minutes before the plane had to be back on the ground in Hamilton. While that was ample for our purposes, we couldn't afford to dally.

Once we were all aboard we taxied out and warmed up, all the while Aaron was keeping an eye on circuit traffic trying to pick a spot for us to slot into. I think there was 4 or possibly 5 planes in the circuit at the time as well as a couple of helicopters in the TLOF circuit on the other side of the aerodrome.

We picked a gap and gunned it. JGP didn't disappoint and we were quickly rolling and airborne before the guy behind us touched down. Ardmore has fairly strict VFR departure procedures so we stuck to them, but surprisingly for me there was not a lot of incoming or outgoing traffic around to worry about. We found the coast and turned eastwards to follow it into the Firth of Thames. Since we hadn't planned to fly over water we climbed to the maximum altitude we could to stay within uncontrolled airspace and Chris kept us within gliding distance of the shore at all times. He did a fairly good overhead join and did a very nice landing. The pressure would well and truly be on my shoulders for the final landing in Hamilton!

After a stretch and a quick dip of the tanks I climbed into the left seat for the return trip to Hamilton. I taxied us out to the end of the runway and decided to perform a max performance takeoff due to the damp runway conditions and fairly heavy loading of the plane. Never the less we were airborne with just over a third of the runway behind us and we climbed away. I set course for Gordonton (just outside the control zone) and away we went. The entire flight had been in mill pond smooth conditions with very light winds on the ground, it really didn't get better than that, and its certainly one of those days you never forget in your flying career.

We were cleared into Hamilton at 2500 feet or below and I began a gentle descent to circuit height. Once we were over the city I had a flashback to July 2004 (Lesson 4 of my blog) when I went up with a PPL who flew like the plane was on rails compared with my sloppy attempts. Here I was, 100 hours (and a few years) later overhead Hamilton in a similar aircraft in similar conditions flying it like it was on rails. I don't remember feeling so proud since I passed my PPL flight test.

My landing was of the same standard as the other two's were (to my intense relief) and we taxied back to the club, 45 minutes before ECT. A truly magical afternoons flying.

On Sunday, I was out at the club once more, taking a couple of workmates for a flight as a treat to them since they are both leaving their jobs and moving towns to follow their partners who have had big career moves. I secured FWS (my favourite Archer) and went up to do some circuits beforehand to maintain my currency. I picked the wrong time because there was commercial traffic due to depart and I only got downwind on my first circuit when I was instructed to land by ATC due to wake turbulence, so I asked to taxi back to the club and was cleared to do so after I landed (which wasn't too bad since I haven't flown an Archer for a month or two).

We piled in and took off, and I took them overhead and around Hamilton looking at all the usual spots and I brought them back in for a somewhat bumpy landing (far from my best which means I need more Archer time!!) and we taxied back to the club. Not really a great deal to report here, scenics are becoming somewhat ho hum to me but I do my best to be as professional as I can be without being paid. :-P


Rodney said…
Hi Euan,

Good to see that you made it back to Ardmore for a visit. Your mentioning of the aero club and cafe brings back good memories - I'll have to head back up there one day [it has been a bit over a year since my last visit to Ardmore]. Also, nice photos of Hamilton :-). Was one of them the main rugby stadium? If so, I used to live on Wye St [many years ago], with my old flat possibly just in the shot.

Euan Kilgour said…
Doh missed out a photo when I was doing my captions. Yeah thats Waikato Stadium as seen from the northwest at about 1300 feet.

I am totally gutted I forgot my camera on the Ardmore trip. It was such a nice day the photos would have been awesome.
Chris Nielsen said…
And I left my digital at home because I was 100% sure you'd have yours. Silly really...