News and Events

News and Events


The dangers that lurk on a lovely day…

In summer months, with turbulence from strong thermal activity, airspeed can be critical and pilot use of controls even more important.

When flying in turbulent conditions (and in New Zealand, we frequently experience severe turbulence in strong westerly conditions in the lee of hills or mountains, or in summer under strong cumulus clouds), we can induce severe damage to the aircraft structure when flying at the top end of the green arc. Steve Walker explains in this article.


Trevor Doig’s Lighter Side

December 2017

Our new hangar nears completion

The decision by Hawke’s Bay Airport Ltd to require removal of private hangars from the southern area meant that the Microlight Club’s investment in Napier hangar ownership was over. This hangar was a legacy from the split in the original Napier microlight club back in the 90s. It had served us well and generated some income.

A decision was made this year to build a new hangar at the Hastings Aerodrome in line with our club’s mission “To foster and encourage the sport of flying microlight aircraft”. The Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club was supportive and made a space available in a new hangar block being formed at the northern end of the airfield, in a row of five 10×12 metre hangars. That’s an ample size for a microlight and in accordance with the aero club’s requirements (and big enough for a small GA aircraft).

Financing was by money already in hand, accumulated from membership fees and proceeds from renting out the Napier hangar for many years. There was still a shortfall so this was made up with debentures by a number of members, repayable by rent on the new hangar. It will take some time but eventually it will be paid back and the income can then be spent on promoting microlight aviation in our area, to be decided by future committees.

This generosity by members, plus promises of their time and effort, enabled a start to be made. There was a number of “working bees” when members pitched in and did an amazing job. Tasks included planning, obtaining council consents, the ground work, boxing, constructing the firewall, painting, manufacture of the main doors, and an earthen ramp for aircraft access. The main construction was done by a contract builder and the concrete by another contractor.

So it has been a labour of love by club members, as well as them being asked to dig deep into their pockets.

We believe that this project fits well into the motive for the club’s existence; it also supports the relationship between the microlight club and the aero club, and will benefit members of both for many years to come.

While it was a shame to lose the Napier hangar, being able to rebuild at Bridge Pa strengthens the concept of Hastings being the Hawke’s Bay centre of light aviation.

At the time of writing, we still need to find a tenant. With microlight aviation being the fastest-growing section of the aviation industry in New Zealand, we don’t think this will be difficult.

All winners.


Ticking boxes in ZZD

Trevor Doig

For three years, I had been trying to do a trip to Stewart Island. The first year, my co-pilot couldn’t make it, the second we were weathered out, but in 2017 it all came together. The aircraft had changed from trusty Tecnam Echo TRD to swish P2008 ZZD. Ian Sowman was alongside in Zenair ZOD.

So on a perfect Wednesday morning, we headed over the hills and across the Strait to Motueka. My co-pilot was Pete Ashcroft. I was in good hands, as he makes my log book of 650 hours look very insignificant. The idea was to fly legs-in-turn, so long as I did the Haast Pass and Stewart Island landings (my boxes to tick).

Motueka was “interesting”. The motels were all but full and we got the last rooms available. Fair to say it could only get better from there on, as it was a glorified backpackers, right next to the RSA which closed on Wednesdays, resulting in a walk into town for a meal. But a kind lady had bought us from the airfield to the motel and the motelier took us back, so we can’t complain about the locals.

Franz Josef Glacier glides slowly down to the West Coast bush…

Unfortunately, Ian had to leave us there and return home. We were disappointed for him but flew onwards, the next leg being 2.6 hours to Haast. I wish someone had warned us “there is nothing there”… But the trip down the West Coast was magnificent with beautiful mountains in clear, blue skies. Franz Josef Glacier was spectacular. At Haast, we touched down on the narrow lime strip and tried to peg down ZZD in the shingle; there was no grass to be seen. But we managed, and had a good evening with a couple of Speights Darks and good rooms. Number one box ticked.

The next tick-box was to fly through the Haast Pass. I had been before, but as a passenger, and remember shaking my fist and shouting “I will return”. The pass greeted us with more perfect weather as we twisted and turned with Mount Aspiring and all those other beautiful snow-covered peaks looking down on us; I’m sure they smiled. Number two box ticked.

Wanaka was too short a flight for a stop and we knew that this weather wouldn’t last forever, so we flew over that beautiful lake and on for 2.1 hours to Invercargill. It was always the plan to overnight in the city and get the briefing for Stewart Island in the morning.

If I was bothered about not getting my morning walks, I made up for it there. It was hot, about 30 degrees, and one of us (it wouldn’t be me) suggested a walk into town to save a taxi fare. What seemed like hours later, we staggered into the last accommodation available and demolished some more Speights Dark. I had better watch this – it’s getting habit-forming. Is it the company I kept? But we needed something to replace the perspiration.

Mount Aspiring looks across benignly as we cruise down Lake Wanaka

Next morning after the briefing and instructions from the Ryan’s Creek charter operator, it was on with the lifejackets again and across the strait to Stewart Island. What good lifejackets would be with a survival time of 20 minutes in that cold Southern Ocean water I don’t know, but trusting the Rotax not to care we were over water, we went across for my most nervous landing. I guess just being so far from home, I reckoned I had better not muck it up and bend ZZD. But we touched down nicely and the shuttle picked us up and took us to the village.

What a quaint little fishing village. We took in the sights, had lunch, took some pictures and called up the shuttle to take us back to the aircraft. It was great to have finally seen the island. We ticked my number three box and got over the shock of the $50 landing fee.

Then on to Alexandra, where a local club member/motel owner told us that all accommodation was taken. Yes, again. This is getting tedious. It seems that everywhere we go, there is an event of some kind taking all the accommodation. But he found us a cabin in the motor camp and even loaned us a car. We didn’t even stay in his motel! How’s that for hospitality? So some tucker in the Speights Ale House (mandatory apparently), but taking it easy on the Dark stuff, and then a pleasant night in a nice old two-bedroom camp cottage.

Next day, it was a 2.4 hour flight in perfect weather to Ashburton where we experienced more South Island hospitality. The motels at the airfield were full (surprise surprise) but a club member took us into town where the motelier with the second-to-last space available provided us with a unit and car. A feed of Chinese (our dining budget by now blown out), and we spent our last night in the South Island.

Heading up the East coast, we encountered very cloudy skies stretching from the sea nearly to the hills, leaving just a narrow track to make Kaikoura. We had planned to stop there but although the town was visible, the airfield was under a thick blanket of cloud. I had hoped to see some of the earthquake damage, but we couldn’t. The skies cleared as we went on to Cape Campbell and across Cook Strait. Wellington Tower watched out for us.

But then we hit the wall. Thank goodness for low ground to Masterton, where we stopped in time to see the last aircraft of the washed-out Wings over Wairarapa air show departing. Had we not made Masterton, we would have had to return to Omaka as nothing else on the North Island was clear. After fuelling up, we decided to “have a look” at getting home via the coast, but when airborne the direct route looked possible with the coast as a plan B. The direct route worked out fine and we arrived back at Hastings just after 5 o’clock, tired and happy after six days and five nights away.

We had spent 15.1 hours in the air, cruised at up to 110 knots, averaged a fuel burn of just over 18 litres an hour and had a ball. All boxes had been ticked.
The P2008 was magnificent. I learned to use flight instruments new to me and the Airmaster constant speed propeller was very useful with the wide range of airstrips and long climbs we encountered.

I had great company with Pete; his extensive experience in aviation certainly took the stress away. I know he enjoyed the trip as much as I did and I am sure he will want to visit the two locations we couldn’t do this time because of the weather (Kaikoura, and Omaka to view the museum).

What’s next? The sky’s the limit.

Coming up…


WhenWhereWhatMore info...
Apr 22DannevirkeBone of Contention clayshootTake-off 0930 for DV
Apr 29HastingsClub day - aerial golf
May 13WaipukurauDawn raid
May 18-19-20Up and awayWeekend trip including Hawera and Taupo
June 10FeildingDawn fly-in
Remember to check your notams!
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