Almost made it!

We were supposed to go to the War Museum at Waiouru. It was going to be a pretty awesome adventure, the army base which has its own airfield were going to open it up to members of the Tauranga and Hawkes Bay Aero Clubs to fly there and then go by bus to the museum. Since my mate Aaron has a lot of contacts at the Hawkes Bay Aero Club he organised for himself, Chris and me to tag along.

The weather this morning was quite nice looking until you read the met information. A 2000 foot wind forecast at 30 knots didn't make for fun times. I arrived at the club to find I was the first one there. Aaron arrived bearing bad news, Hawkes Bay were a non starter because the cloud cover was so low there was no way for them to get inland. Tauranga had decided not to go either and it wasn't feasible for us to go alone so we looked for an alternative destination and found one in the North Shore Aero Club. Neither Chris nor I had ever been there so we decided to give it a go.

Chris was chosen to fly us there, with the intention for me to fly the return leg. We got airborne and although the expected turbulence was present it wasn't nearly as bad as we had feared. We gained clearance to and climbed up to 2500 feet. At that height the turbulence was bad enough to make accurate flying a challenge so Aaron and Chris decided to climb up to 3500 once we could and attempt to cross direct through Auckland airspace at 3500. Being a Sunday morning you would assume that Auckland International Airport would be fairly quiet. WRONG! While not as busy as it can get, there was a lot of aircraft operating within the vast chunk of airspace Auckland Control looks after. Chris requested 3500 and they said it was not available and to remain clear of airspace. That was the end of it. We descended to 2500 to get under it and made for the transit lane at Bucklands Beach. Crossing the hills near Hunua we hit a patch of pretty nasty clear air turbulence. I hit my head on the roof hard, and things went flying inside the cockpit. I asked the guys if they minded not continuing and diverting to Ardmore. They agreed and a scant 4 minutes later we were on the ground having a coffee at the airport cafe.

They chose me to fly us back to Hamilton, so I chose to climb to 2500 as quickly as possible to avoid the turbulence. We still were tossed around the sky a bit initially which cleared once we cleared the Bombay hills and entered the Mercer MBZ. In fact, the further south we went the better the flying conditions got.

I contacted Hamilton tower 3 nm east of Huntly at 2300 and requested joining instructions. At first I was instructed to perform a north arrival but that was amended immediately to a clearance to enter the city sector 1500 feet or below. I've never been asked to do that before so I made sure I articulated my reply clearly to make sure there was no mishearing on my part. I was not corrected so I began a shallow descent to 1500 and headed us towards Hamilton city.

I reported my position at the Showgrounds visual reporting point and was cleared to continue approach number 1 for Grass 07 Right. Below is the movie Chris took of my landing. A few seconds after the movie begins the tower amends my clearance to Grass 07 Left and clears me to land.

Not my best landing, but we landed safely and have plenty to ponder about over a cold beer.


Chris Nielsen said…
Yeah bro, what a shit day to go flying!
Euan Kilgour said…
Well as I said in the plane, my personal limits just went up by a fraction. I wouldn't choose to go flying in that weather but if needed I could.
Chris Nielsen said…
I don't think we should fly in a whole lot more wind than that but it could certainly been worse
Kiwi Flyer said…
What an awesome trip that would of been! Sounds like the flight was an adventure in itself, anyway...

Typical to have a trip on a day like that, with all the good weather we've had lately.