A Busy Monday

Trip Start Mar 06, 2013
Trip End Apr 04, 2013

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North Shore Aero Club

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday was a very busy day. We were up before the sun again, breakfast at 6:30 and a planned 7 am departure from the B&B. That was the plan. Unplanned was the discomfort from a massive number of mosquito bites from the evening before... So you get malaria from mosquitos that have recently bitten someone with active malaria? The hostess of the B&B was still in thehospital with acute malaria. We hope you need a particular kind of mosquito in this equation. 

Next surprise, the only accepted form of payment for our stay was cash. Something they forgot to mention with the whole malaria thing going on. In the end we departed with a bank account number and our promise that we would pay.
The drive to Silverdale, North Shore Aero Club, was lovely with shreds of fog draping the hills. It was a brilliant VFR flying day by the time we reached the club at 9:40, twenty minutes early for our BFR checks as scheduled the prior Friday. Next diversion, we found that we had been rescheduled for 11. By noon we were flying with Dawson, the veteran of 35+ years of flight instruction in the area. As with all instructors, he was dressed in his white shirt and epaulets. He proved an amiable, though thorough instructor. 
The highlight of the flying was the low level maneuvers. It seems NZ pilots expect to be flying at 500' or below in poor visibility, aka scud running. Therefore, they practice some fun maneuvers to make scud running "safer" (?!): 
  •  Forced landing with engine. This assumes the weather has driven you down to the deck, socked you into a valley and your only choice is to land in a field. Several passes are made to view the field, to assess it for landing suitability, to scare away the livestock, and to make a timing run for the size. Then an approach to about 25' is made with a balked landing. All of this conducted at 300' or below.
  • Turns around a point at low level. This is practiced at 200' in the middle of a bay turning a 300' radius around buoy. YIKES!
  • And our favorite: Obstacle avoidance. For this one we flew at cruise speed at 200' directly at the front windows of a home on the side of a steep hill rising up from the bay. This was clearly the home of a very wealthy person who collected large sculptures and, allegedly, giraffes. The instructor would have us hold course until we were about 500' horizontally away from the front porch. He would then call 'go'. At that moment we would react as if the hill and house had just emerged out of the cloud/fog in front of us, adding power and making a sudden steep turn to (literally) avoid crashing into the home. This sudden turn must be done without climbing because the assumption is that you were scud running in the first place. Approaching the house in this way was allowed because the house was in a designated low flying area. We think it would be an awesome place to live!

In addition we were required to fly every maneuver in the normal US PPL regimen: stalls of several types, steep turns, compass turns, every possible landing configuration, engine out landings, etc. After a total of almost 4 hours of flying and a short break to change pilots, we sat down to do the ground work at 5:30 pm. There was a brief moment of panic when we were asked if we could return tomorrow to finish up, but saner minds prevailed and by 7 pm we were done. We had completed our NZ BFRs (biennial flight reviews) and would be allowed to fly NZ registered airplanes once the CAA approved the paperwork. It was a prodigious amount of paperwork. I think our man Dawson had a cramp in his hand from all the initialing of each maneuver and study task completed.
Our day, however, was not complete. We still needed to burn some highway miles to get a bit further towards Wellington, our must-make goal for Tuesday night. So, we headed south to be treated to a stunning view of Auckland at sunset. There, having followed us from Paihia, was the Queen Mary 2 glimmering in the harbor. 

An hour or so past Auckland we finally found a hotel and started searching for food since we had not had time for a meal since leaving the B&B. The pickings were slim in a small town after 9 on a Monday night. What we found was a Maori biker bar where they were super nice and made two very tired pilots some dinner. As an added bonus we were taught how to spell the name of the town: Nine Girls Are Running Under A Wharf And Here I Am. Ngaruawahia. 
A long, but successful day!
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George on

Pleased you enjoyed it. Sounded. Bit unreasonable to me but at least you've got it and enjoyed it by the sounds of things. I'll have to tell you more about your man some time.

George on

Oh and yes.. Wrong variety of Mosquito.

Peter van Schoonhoven on

You did not travel all that way just to find "same old, same old" did you?

Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Gretchen on

I'm just now catching up on your posts. Ngaruawahia! There is quite a lot of Maori history with the town, and I hope someone told you the stories. If not, I can do my best when you get home.

Sounds like you are having a great time.

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