A bit of a review

Here we are in June and you have not heard a sound out of me during the busy "flying months".  Well what can I say as an excuse for not posting?  Quite a bit actually!  Firstly,  I have a job!  I was asked to join the roster to work the office at the Waikato Aero Club on weekends.  Essentially my role is to answer the phone, manage the bookings and be the smiling enthusiastic face student pilots see when they come in for their lesson.  I remember how much that detail made an impression on me when I was learning so its time to pay it forward.  The roster normally gives me one day a month on the job, my past work experience means I have the requisite skills to perform all the duties so it is not particularly taxing, but the job satisfaction is huge.  Being able to share in the big smiles when a young person takes their first lesson, or some middle aged gent does his first solo, those moments are priceless.  I don't get paid a great deal but it does offset my flying costs so that is an added bonus.

OK lets look at what I have done since I last posted.

2012 Sport Avex in Tauranga.  We were all set to fly over but DQV had a flat nosewheel so we took the low level 4 wheeled route instead (added to the fact my camera batteries went dead it was not a great start).  It was a fairly trying day weather-wise with fairly strong winds but all credit to the display pilots for putting on a brilliant show.  Got to see one of the new RNZAF Augsta A109 LUH 'Mako' helicopters on static display.  Looks like a great piece of kit.  The highlight was that there were no less than 5 airworthy jets on the apron; a FR74A Hunter, an A-37 Dragonfly, a DH-155 T.55 Vampire, a L39C Albatross and a BAC-167 Strikemaster.  It was great to see and hear them all do their thing.

RNZAF 75th Anniversary, RNZAF Ohakea.  We were all set to fly but was unable to get a landing slot so we went with Plan B once more, the trusty car.  There was a lot of disgruntled punters after the airshow complaining about not being able to get into the gates,  but after my last trip to Ohakea where it took us 90 minutes to vacate the carpark after the cessation of flying displays, I hatched a cunning plan to avoid most of the delays and it worked to perfection.  Anyway enough of that, the show.  One of the highlights of the whole trip was a special visit to Brendan Deere's hangar, which houses among others a Mk IX Spitfire and a TBF Avenger.  This was a private display and there were no ring fences, no security guards, nothing other than a great deal of faith on Mr Deere's part that a bunch of 20 aircraft enthusiasts would take the necessary care with his irreplaceable collection of airworthy warbirds.  The Avenger and Spit were fueled and prepped for their scheduled appearances at the airshow the following day, so if someone had put a finger through the Spitfires aileron (yes, they are fabric covered!) or dropped a lens cap into the cockpit that would have scrubbed the flight.  No one wanted to be that guy and to our credit there were no incidents.  The airshow was a great day, the weather looked a little gray to start with but by mid morning Ohakea was bathed in bright sunshine and the flying began.  I had seen pretty much all the aircraft display with one notable exception, so there was really three things I wanted to see.  1) the Avenger - I have never seen one airborne before and pilot Guy Stevenson wowed the ground with some great moves.  2) the RAAF F/A-18 Hornets.  I knew the display was going to be good when a young chap in an ATC uniform asked me to disable my car alarm if I had one.  As most NZers don't get to see afterburning jets they were not really ready for what happened when a 4 ship display did a low level pass down the crowd line at about 350 knots with the burners lit.  That was worth the price of admission alone.  3) the RNZAF Boeing 757 display - the 350 knot downwind pass followed by a 4G pull to 50 degrees nose up followed by a wingover, it is something I look forward to seeing every time I go to a show where the 757 is being displayed.  Simply breathtaking to see something so big doing a wingover.

My BFR.  It is strange to think that I have been flying for 6 years but it's true, as I had to pass my 3rd BFR.  I hadn't done a wing drop stall or a compass turn since my last BFR, so after my customary dual flight where I practice the low level syllabus that I cannot do solo, I did an hours practice before taking the plunge.  Thinking back I did a few things I was not entirely happy with, but I did well enough that once I completed the mandatory flying demonstrations, CFI Roger said he'd show me some Terrain Awareness techniques and valley flying.  Now I love low flying but this was simply awesome.  So much so I was having almost too good a time to learn what he was trying to teach me.  Roger, if you are reading this I remember every detail of the flight so don't worry.  On the way back we discussed Threat Identification and Management, I liken this to a Defensive Driving course I did 25 years ago when I was at High School, the concepts are the same.  Take a scenario, identify the likely threats to you, prioritize them and conceive a strategy to deal with them.  It's a natural extension of the Situation Awareness zone instructors talk about.  Roger said he was happy with my ability being safe and was happy to sign me off for another two years, so I took the opportunity to ask him to demonstrate a maneuver I had read about but never tried, a chandelle.  This maneuver is a mandatory one for the USA CPL flight test but is not taught in NZ.  What is it?  The best way I can explain it is a high performance climbing turn.  You enter from level flight at Va or below, it is an abrupt pull to 20 degrees nose up followed by a 45 degree angle of bank turn in the direction desired, rolling wings level once you have turned 180 degrees.  Roger did one then to my astonishment he ask me to try one.  I made the rookie mistake of not holding enough pitch in the turn and we ended up in a steep level turn, so we did a couple more and I eventually did something that might be mistaken for a chandelle to the uneducated eye.  Roger then showed me what a wingover looks like.  Not really something I want to try but it really demonstrated to me just how massive the 172's flight envelope is, and how little of it I have explored.

So what is ahead of me for the year?  Coming up is the annual AvKiwi Safety Seminar.  Then the Aero Club will be unwrapping two new aircraft (more on this later) and I'm currently saving up for a rating.  And lastly if finances permit, I will take the PPL Terrain Awareness course.  I have a small collection of photos I took, will post the best of them shortly.