Good news and bad news

Well actually I'll put the bad news first since its not really that much of a problem. My BFR got postponed due to weather. I still put in a solid hour or so going over the ground study, but much of it I was unable to complete as the aircraft I had booked was stuck on the ground at New Plymouth so I couldn't get my hands on the flight manual to complete all the weight and balance and flight performance data questions.

Now the good news, we finally got to Great Barrier Island!!

Although the weather wasn't ideal, it was still good enough for us to load up the Arrow and get going more or less on time on Saturday morning. The enroute weather forecast had a ceiling at 3000 feet with north easterly winds between 10-15 knots at 200o feet. Chris was flying so I took the opportunity to take lots of photos. The visibility under the cloud was surprisingly good, almost 35 km, and for the most part the flight up was as smooth as a mill pond. We picked up a couple of lumps crossing Coromandel Peninsula to make a beeline for the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island as it had a fair amount of squall cloud sitting overhead which meant a straight in approach over Blind Bay was out.

We descended to around 1400 feet and flew under most of the bad stuff, I remember Kaitoke Beach coming into view up the coast as we rounded the southeastern tip of the island. The cliffs there rose straight out of the water up some several hundred feet and were totally covered in bush at the top. Pretty rugged and remote.

We figured the wind was blowing roughly 360 on the ground, which meant a crosswind landing no matter which runway we chose. Chris selected to come in low and fast on runway 28. I made a video of it and its been uploaded to YouTube. By the way, the tarmac runway is only 9 meters wide so you have to be fairly precise when you land or else you can snag a wheel on the verge and bad things could happen.

After we landed Chris informed us he had booked a rental car so we collected it and drove the 60 or so meters to the club's lodge which sits adjacent to the airport. After giving Susan a tour and using the facilities to freshen up we locked up the lodge and hit the road, deciding to head to Tryphena for lunch. Chris drove as we wound our way along the narrow but sealed road which snakes through the windswept countryside on its way over the spine of hills which make up the backbone of Great Barrier to Tryphena Bay on the south western side of the island. After taking a few snaps of the wharf and the bay we found a delightful restaurant/bar to have lunch.

During lunch I decided it might be better if I drove and Chris rested as it didn't seem fair to me that he flew us in, then chauffeured us around the island before flying us home again. As we were in the Arrow I wasn't able to fly us back because I am not rated in it. Of course I had taken the precaution of registering myself as the second driver when we had picked up the rental so it was all above board.

I really wanted to see Port Fitzroy (for some strange reason thats still not very apparent to me) so we finished our fresh Hoki and chips, saddled up our trusty rental and headed north.

Eventually our travels brought us to Okiwi airfield, the secondary airfield on the island, and one which the Clubs head instructor has banned us from flying into. My first impression was one of confusion, as the place looked pretty innocuous to me, then I saw the windsocks at each end pointing in different directions and it made sense to me.

After taking a few photos we headed on towards Port Fitzroy. By this time the road had gone from narrow seal to extremely narrow gravel, and our little car bounced and shuddered over the uneven surface as we picked our way around most of the potholes. By the time we reached Port Fitzroy, our time was being cut fine somewhat as we had not expected a 40km drive to take more than an hour. I had just enough time to take a couple of photos before we headed back to the lodge. After a comfort stop we returned the rental car "island style," by leaving it in the carpark of the airfield unlocked with the keys in it.

I took a couple more photos while Chris preflighted DQV and we climbed in, warmed her up, did the runups, made some last minute decisions about how we were going to depart and away we went. Chris chose to depart on runway 10 heading out to sea initially before climbing and heading out south west over Blind Bay, as the cloud base had lifted enough for us to slip through the saddle comfortably.

As we were overhead Blind Bay we heard an inbound commercial flight announce their position as being overhead channel island heading for Blind Bay and eventually we picked them up as they passed overhead.

The rest of the flight back was rather uneventful until we were on finals for Grass 36. Due to the 2008 Agricultural Fielddays being held in Hamilton that weekend the airport was busy with all kinds of traffic and we were instructed to land on the Grass rather than our preferred tarmac runway. We were on finals when another plane swept past our left wing and peeled away. Chris started then when he looked forward Susan said from the back seat that we were heading for a flock of birds. Fortunately, the birds were better at taking evasive action than we were, as we were quite slow as we had to follow a Cessna 172 down on finals and the Arrow likes a much faster final approach speed than the 172 does.

Chris landed on Grass 36 without too much drama and we taxied clear. What I found incredulous was that the entire trip to and from Great Barrier only took 1.6 hours as DQV is airswitched. For trips like that it really is a heck of a lot cheaper than an Archer thats for sure.

I did manage to ask the clubs head instructor about getting an Arrow rating and he's happy for me to start, so now its just a matter of coming up with the money and soon I'll have another type rating next to my name, and I get to say "gear up" as part of the post takeoff checklist. I cannot wait!

Photos to follow shortly.


Rodney said…
Hi Euan,

Nice pictures [and video on the previous post]! GB is one place I never got to. Looks like a nice place to go for a visit.

All the best for your upcoming BFR!
Evan said…
"Gear Up" on take off *is* cool. "Gear Down" on approach is vital...
Euan Kilgour said…
I bet it is Evan! It goes hand in hand with the saying, "takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory."
ZK-JPY said…
woohoo! success!

I have been less successful with my flying endeavours lately... stupid wx...

what time did you guys get back on Saturday? I was kicking around the aeroclub from around 12pm until around 3ish, as Trevor had been playing in the sim.

We are back in the Tron this weekend, so he can take FWS for a hoon...
Euan Kilgour said…
Jared: We touched down at 1630hrs, long after you'd gone it seems. I'll be in Auckland on Saturday, but if you'll be in Hamilton on Sunday I could be persuaded to come out to the Aero Club. Just make sure Trevor brings back our favourite Archer in one piece mind you! :-)

And as an even better answer to Evan as supplied by an old timer pilot, "There are two kinds of retractable pilots. Those who have made a gear up landing, and those who are about to..."