Gisborne , Hastings and Paraparaumu

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

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Where I stayed
Wrights by the Sea Motel Paraparaumu
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We didn't think it could happen, but somehow the weather actually got better today. High pressure is dominating the islands and even at mid afternoon there were very few clouds. It was downright hot on the field at Paraparam (native pilot speak for Paraparaumu--and for which we are very grateful). This fine weather is expected to remain tomorrow and only really change on Sunday. Perfect timing for us as we will return ETU to the Nelson Aeroclub tomorrow and are hoping for good weather on Saturday for the Omaka Airshow.

Today's flying started with Jon and Doedo delighted that the Air Force team will be able to do a photo shoot with us today. They briefed the flight for the first, Safari designated scenic, leg. For us it didn't matter but the Air Force team is duty-bound to actually score well on the competition legs. Jon and Doedo had been working on this from the beginning of the Safari but had been waiting for the official permission. Much schmoozing has occurred. Swag has been duly traded.

The bright yellow trainers looked fabulous in formation with us. They did a great job staying with us in the turn to get all possible angles of the sun. Jon got some stunning shots which are sure to grace the Air Force walls in the near future. 

As a final demonstration of skill, and for a bit of excitement for the video we were shooting, they offered to demo a break and re-form. This was a good challenge for them because they usually fly formation at 120 knots but due to our limitations on opening the Cessna window, we had them dialed back to less than 90 knots. On the first attempt at the reform the wingman slid right past his lead having misjudged how much he needed to slow down, But lessons learned, he tried again and hit his mark.

We had fun watching them fly together along the coast in their much more nimble planes than ours, diving and swooping while hugging the cliffs along the shore. Wow it would be fun to have the Bücker here!

Just before turning inland to Hastings we passed Napier Port. In the harbor we saw a ship that looked familiar. At first we thought it must be the Queen Mary 2 again, but it turned out to be the sister ship to the one we sailed on for our cruise to Alaska. We sailed on the Westerdam, the Oosterdam was in harbor in Napier today.

We arrived in Hastings for lunch with big smiles on our faces. Jon had great photos and we had a terrific flight along a sunny, gorgeous coast looking even better with two yellow trainers at our wing. At lunch Jon confirmed a ride in the Europa as partial payback for the photos he took yesterday. We traded Jon for some luggage out of the Europa. It wasn't really a fair exchange but it worked better that way.

Doedo and I headed for the coast again. This time I got my wish of setting up the wing video to point at the shore. We got about an hour of 'beach cam' flying from just off of Hastings down to Castlepoint. This will come in handy on winter days when you wish you could go fly.

Castlepoint was even better from the air. The big ridge of rocks where people were fishing looked completely different from the air than it did on the showery Sunday when we drove out there from Masterton. Seen from ocean side, the ridge of rocks looks like the crest of a wave about to break in the wrong direction, away from the shore. We could also now really see the tremendous crash of the waves at its base. 

From there we headed inland towards Paraparaumu. This took us back over the ridge of mountains that form the spine of the lower North Island. Today there were few clouds and no showers. We could see the South Island from the air over Masterton. Once we were over the peaks we could see Mt Taranaki glimmering in the distance, The top of the volcano was in the clear but it wore a ruff of clouds some thousand feet below.

Arrival into Paraparam was the usual chaos caused by 30+ small planes arriving in a short space of time. Here it was made worse by the non-controller controller. This is another Kiwi feature where at some uncontrolled fields they have a staff person assigned to repeat all of the pilot position calls. In theory this person adds value by helping incoming pilots assess weather and traffic. In the event of 30 small planes arriving at once, they functionally clog the frequency so no one can get a word in edgewise. Worse, they were clogging the frequency with misinformation as to where traffic was located as the poor anti-controller was drowned in a sea of Safari number position reports.

Everyone made it down just fine, in the end. We all had a great time hanging out at the club to wind down from a fantastic day. Eventually a bus showed up to take us to our hotels. where we all scrambled for the shower before dinner.
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