Pauanui Beach

Pauanui Beach is an idyllic little settlement on the Eastern Coromandel peninsula exactly 57nm north northeast from Hamilton as the Cessna flies. Susan had always wanted to go there, and judging by the fact that the airstrip is bang smack in the middle of town, it’s an aviation friendly place.

The day was pretty nice by most standards, although it was quite hazy and the ATIS at Hamilton reported broken at 3500’ and vis of only 25km. I did a weight and balance for max fuel and we were way under the limits so after preflighting we got underway. I haven’t done much flying recently, and I was a little concerned about my currency, but the met was well within my personal minimums so it was more of a nagging doubt than a concern.

Once we were clear of airspace I climbed up to 3000’ and surveyed my options. It didn’t look like I could get across the Kaimais with any sort of safety margin so I decided to make for the Waihi Gap. As we got closer to the town of Paeroa which sits at the western entrance to the Gap, I heard traffic on the Coromandel frequency stating that they were happily VFR at 4500 so I knew the cloud conditions were better the further east I went. The cloudbase had started to break up, and by the time I was overhead Paeroa the cloud was few at 3500 so I picked a gap and climbed.

Once we were on top the ride smoothed out and the entire eastern side of the Coromandel was CAVOK. Once I started our descent (Pauanui’s elevation is 12’) we hit some clear air turbulence, but it was nothing major. I had been monitoring traffic around Pauanui and there was quite a bit, and they were using both runways so after dialling up the AWIB and being told that the wind was variable, I chose to perform an overhead join and see for myself.

After not spotting the windsock at one end, I eventually saw the other one and it was indicating an off shore easterly breeze of around 5-8 knots so I announced I was descending non traffic for 05. Pauanui is bordered by a range of hills to the south about 1nm from the airstrip which are higher than circuit height. I remember a pilot telling me that you need to fly at the hills till you think you are too close then turn away. I was descending to 1000’ at the same time so the hills seemed to rush up at you. But it worked because I ended up perfectly spaced at circuit height to join downwind.

The rest of the approach went well until very short final when I hit a patch of sheer and the plane lurched to the right. I overcorrected and we drifted left, I thought about going around but sorted everything out by the time we hit ground effect and we touched down surprisingly lightly, albeit half a wingspan off centreline.

The trip back was fairly uneventful other than our arrival being at the same time as a flock of CTC aircraft returning so I had to hold north of the airport while the controller got everyone sorted out. I did a passable crosswind landing and taxied clear. A 1.8hr flight and a whole day of fun.


ZK-JPY said…
Ooooo v. nice...

Climbing out at Vx were we? You really hauled it off the deck! But then, I suppose 2up in a lightly loaded 172, it is gonna move ;)

Sunday was a good day... Went sightseeing to Great Barrier with a friend wanting to get his hand in again... and then we went down the 'Tron for some night crosscountry work...

Might be heading that way again tonight if the weather holds... TAF's not looking positive tho :(
Euan Kilgour said…
Oh you noticed, well we had more than 150L on board when we took off but JGP (aka the Millenium Falcon) is a rocket ship. I got her off the deck, set a "normal" climb attitude and noticed the airspeed blow through 75 knots so I thought I might as well bring it back to 65 and milk as much altitude as I could in case things went silent.
Rodney said…
Looks like you had a good flight mate. Will be good to catch up with you later this month!