Well this is scary!

I now just have one more flight left in New Zealand and that’s my Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) skills test!

The past seven months have flown by and now it all comes down to one more flight before I move onto filling in the paperwork and catching the plane home.

In preparation, this week has seen me do 3 CPL profiles which are essentially mock tests allowing me to identify where I need to work on and to improve these areas.
After my last one this morning, I now feel happy about the test and you can see a marked improvement in my flying not just compared to when I passed PT1 a few months ago but even compared to how I was flying after my first profile.

All I have to do now is stay calm, not let the pressure get to me and fly it as though it’s any other flight.

Fingers crossed!

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South Island Flyaway

As promised, an update following our 5 day trip around the South Island of New Zealand and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint! Be warned, this update is very picture heavy and may cause jealousy!

The whole idea of the flyaway is for us to chase the good weather and complete all of our IFR Routes flights in the Twinstar. Clearly, we didn’t want to just stay in the vicinity of Hamilton, so we headed off towards the South Island, spending the first night in Wellington.

Passing Ruapehu
Flying down to Wellington, passing Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro – the volcanoes on the North Island

WN
Wellington
Wellington
Welcome to Wellington Airport

After spending the night in Wellington, it was time to head down to Christchurch, where we would be basing ourselves for the next couple of days.
The flight down was full of amazing scenery as we went the long way round via Nelson and Westport, allowing us to see the Marlborough Sounds and to fly over the Southern Alps.

Marlborough SoundsSun setting above the clouds
Top: Marlborough Sounds
Above: Sun setting over the clouds
Left: Me enjoying the flight to Nelson
Mountains surrounding CH   Above: Looking back at the Southern Alps from Christchurch

From Christchurch, we spent the next day touring around the South Island, ending up making approaches into Timaru and Alexandra along with landing in Dunedin for lunch and a change of pilot.

The weather closed in that night, meaning I didn’t get to fly that day, but instead went up early the next morning to get my flight in. We flew over to Hokitika on the west coast and due to the inclement weather the previous night, more snow had fallen on the Southern Alps – the views were amazing! With it being so clear as well, we could also see down to Mt Cook – the highest point in New Zealand.

Central divide  Above: Looking out onto the Southern Alps with peaks covered in snow and cloud still in the valleys
Below: Looking down the range towards a snowy Mt Cook in the distanceLooking down towards Mt Cook, covered in snow

When I got back from this flight, I spent the afternoon at Christchurch Airport waiting to fly back up to Woodbourne after the other two had been up in the morning to drop one of them off. I spent the time at the International Aviation Academy of New Zealand (IAANZ) and thanks to Ryan and Adrienne for making me feel so welcome and keeping me company for a good few hours! Good luck with the rest of your training guys!

Being based at an international airport with jet traffic meant that I couldn’t go throughout the trip without taking a few photos of planes – we are pilots after all!
One of the best photos I took from Christchurch was of a Singapore Airlines 777 taking off whilst our Twinstar was waiting at the holding point (I wasn’t in the Twinstar at the time though).

You can really see the size difference between them!

The last leg of our trip saw me flying back up to Hamilton from Woodbourne, going via Wanganui on the way. It brought an end to a great 5 days worth of flying.

Flight Map

This map shows where we ended up flying on the flyaway as a group. My flights are the black lines and the grey ones are where I either backseated the route (dark grey) or the other two flew the route and I wasn’t in the aircraft (light grey).

Finally, a big thanks to our instructor, Ash, for putting up with us this week! It took a lot of work and long days to get to where we did and he was always in the aircraft, putting the long hours in every day.

With this now complete, it’s time for me to focus on CPL revision as I now have three profile flights (mock tests) before I sit my actual CPL! I should be home in just a couple of weeks now.

PS: There will be a video of the flyaway coming soon, I just need to collate all our pictures and video and then make it and CPL comes first

Things don’t always go to plan!

So, last blog post I alluded to the fact that my next flight was going to be in the Twinstar – well, that didn’t happen! Weather meant that I had to cancel the flight unfortunately. We did manage to do our last block of groundschool though, so it wasn’t a completely wasted day.

Since then, I’ve completed my first SPIC (Supervised Pilot in Command) flight. These flights are where the instructors leave virtually everything up to us. This means it’s our choice of routes, speeds, altitudes and all air related decisions.
I chose to fly from Hamilton to overhead Rotorua and then onwards to make an approach at Tauranga before coming back to Hamilton. All was going really well up until Tauranga where my instructor decided I was doing too well and threw in a ‘problem’. He simulated that there was severe turbulence on the standard IFR route back from Tauranga and asked me what I was going to do. So, calmly, I studied my charts and found and alternative route back to Hamilton and flew it. I think I coped with it well – the instructor didn’t say anything negative about it!
Just before reaching Hamilton, he threw another problem at me and again I dealt with it swiftly and calmly.
Overall, I think it was one of my best flights to date! (Although I must admit that it did help being allowed to use the autopilot!)

As promised, I’ve got some more photos, these are courtesy of James Linsell who backseated my flight.

Hamilton

Hamilton

Lining up to take off on 36R at Hamilton

Lining up on 36R at Hamilton Airport, preparing to take off

Coming in on the approach to Tauranga

On the GPS approach into Tauranga Airport (the airport is just to the left of the compass)

Looking down the harbour at Tauranga

Looking down the beach at Tauranga from final approach with Mt Maunganui in the distance

And, as a final note, today marks exactly 7 weeks until I leave New Zealand! It’s odd to think that I’ve come so far in just over 6 months and I still have so far to go in these remaining weeks.

Note: I have just updated the photos page and the videos page with things I’ve been doing over the past couple of weeks. Go check them out!

Photo Credits
All photos in the post – James Linsell

Moving onto the Twinstar

Firstly, I apologise for the lack of updates recently. I’ll be totally honest, I haven’t done anything noteworthy! I’ve either been doing flights where I haven’t got any good pictures or been sitting in my room and eating cake that I was given in exchange for moving furniture.

On a more flying related note, tomorrow sees me take control of the Twinstar for the first time. I can’t wait – I just hope the weather holds up as these first few flights are meant to be under VFR conditions, so good weather is required.

Looking back at what I’ve been up to, I’ve finished practicing holds and approaches in the Cessna and have now moved onto flying routes in instrument conditions. To do this, we flew from Hamilton to Rotorua and then onto Whakatane. It was a great flight and the weather was really clear, so got to see some great views of further down New Zealand’s east coast.

Fingers crossed my flight goes ahead tomorrow and my next update should have some pictures!