Some decent weather at last

New Zealand managed to get some blue sky and light winds. I figured that since we'd had total and utter crap for the past 6 weeks that there'd be no chance I'd get a plane. But I decided to chance my arm and headed out to the Aero Club on a whim. Even if I couldn't get a plane, there would be something happening that I could take photos of.

As I walked into the Club I saw JGP sitting out on the flightline. My first thought was, oh its unserviceable, but then I saw 3 Alpha's sitting there as well, and I dared to hope. As it happened there was only one instructor on duty and he was flat out booked, both the Archers and WAM were out, and so was the Arrow. JGP had one booking listed, and that was an hour in the morning, so it was all mine for as long as I wanted.

I chose to fly out to Matamata and do some circuits. I sent a text to Aaron and just as soon as I finished the preflight he turned up. Over winter the Airport company have closed some of the Grass runways to allow the grass to regrow, after the hot and dry summer combined with lots of landings roughed them up quite a bit. The upshot of this is long waiting times as aircraft queue at the holding points. This was no exception as we sat there for a good 5 minutes waiting for a free spot to open up.

In hindsight I realise I should have let the tower know I was willing to perform an intersection departure as we had a reasonably light plane, but I didn't so we had to wait.

After being cleared for take off I did a quick check of the instruments, checked to make sure that both Aaron and I were belted in and the doors were locked and opened the throttle. Shortly afterwards the airspeed came alive and we were airborne. The climb performance today was outstanding, and I brought the nose up higher than I normally would to achieve an 80 knot climb out.

I turned us downwind and then departed the circuit for the Scott sector. The day was very smooth and clear, an excellent day for flying, and Aaron made liberal use of my camera taking snaps of all and sundry.

Clear of Hamilton airspace and overhead Mount Ruru I radioed up Matamata traffic and announced my imminent arrival and was greeted by silence. We started our descent and Aaron saw a glider circling above us to the east of the field. I decided to make an overhead join (first time I have done that at Matamata) so I leveled off at 1700 feet and circled the field, finally selecting runway 28 and starting our descent into the circuit.

We lost sight of the glider several times and I decided that since we couldn't hear him and he might be trying to land that I'd make a full stop landing and wait for him to land before taking off again for circuits.

I noted a 5 knot crosswind so set up for a crosswind landing, and I thought I did a fairly good one. In the meantime the glider had set off northwards. We taxied clear as a Tecnam rolled out of its parking spot and trundled out down towards our end of the runway.

After a brief discussion with Aaron I decided to take off immediately and head back to Hamilton. I was having more fun in the air than on the ground and the day was starting to run out of daylight and the club rule of being on the ground 45 mins before ECT was ringing in my ears.

I lined up and performed a crosswind takeoff, which I thought went pretty good. We trundled northwest around the Hamilton control zone so I could approach from the north, as the Hamilton traffic was starting to get busy with the return of all the CTC VFR flights from the south and east. I called up Hamilton overhead Gordonton and was strangely cleared straight in with an instruction to report at a 5 mile final.

The Hamilton area was shaded by cirrus, Aaron and I argued over where the airport actually was. In the end we were both wrong. I really feel sorry for pilots who are not familiar with Hamilton, as at least I can fly in the general direction of the airfield and eventually I'll pick it up, which I did.

I reported a 5 mile final and was cleared number 2 following a plane on short final. I decided to do a flapless landing and kept the speed up around 85knots as we made our approach. Just before the threshold I cut the throttle and raised the nose to bleed airspeed as we crossed the numbers. We ended up slightly long and the tower instructed me to expedite ahead and vacate via the western taxiway. That meant a quick burst of power to keep the speed up and we rounded the corner and were off the runway in good time. The Dash 8 waiting on the apron seemed to appreciate our speedy departure.

I taxied back to the club and shut down, at precisely 5pm and 1 hour showing on the Hobbs. Another flight done, time to put JGP to bed and quit to the bar for a beer.

Photos to come soon.