News and Events

News and Events

Trevor Doig’s Lighter Side

May 2017

Summer is behind us. It wasn’t a great flying summer with only a month or so of really good weather, but nevertheless there was a lot of aviating done with some fun trips.

It is on the ground and around Bridge Pa that most of the activity has taken place, so this is going to be a bit of a gossip sheet.

Ian Sowman has put another Subaru engine in his Zenair which is proving to be a tad faster. And Malcolm Belcher is getting on well with his Archer. We don’t see much of it as he is building the components at his home in Havelock North. But we have seen a lot of Ian because he has started building a hangar for his microlight ZOD by the glider shed. There are two more hangars for microlights under construction “over the other side”. And another two in the planning stages. Hastings has done very well out of the exit from Napier.

And big news is that after a lot of soul-searching, discussions and planning and raising of funds, our microlight club is building a hangar to be leased for a microlight. This will be an investment for the club to secure its future for many years to come. Members have been asked to dig deep, which they are doing with enthusiasm. Some will also be conscripted along with their shovels for a bit of the labouring (be warned) but the main build will be contracted out.

Geoff is good to go!

On the training front, with the aero club doing the training, Geoff Pannett has gone solo in the Aero Club’s Tecnam ZZB, and he is talking about buying his own aircraft. Cherie Sowman has nearly completed her training with her Advanced National just around the corner. A new member, Nathan, is really fired up and getting on fine in the circuit. He is younger than most of us from the one-foot-in-the-grave fraternity, so it will not be long before he gets his wings. And there are others in training who haven’t quite joined us yet but we remain hopeful.

So it is going to get quite crowded up there, which is great, and I can see some really good club trips coming up next summer.

In February, I completed the two-stage circumnavigation of New Zealand in my newly acquired P2008 ZZD. See the story below. I did this with my good friend Pete Ashcroft as co-pilot. Co-pilot sounds a bit silly as he has vastly more experience than I, but we made a good team and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were away six days and are still talking to each other. There were originally going to be three or more aircraft but for various reasons there was just us. We have big plans for next summer too. Contact me if you want to be a part of it.

Our monthly Sunday meetings are still going well and we still have our safety sessions after the meeting; they are proving to be very helpful. Mads Slivsgaard takes them with help from our Safety Officer Max Dixon and often Helen from the aero club. We also get really helpful comments from some of our very experienced members. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge in our club and it is great that they can share it with us. It’s all about flying safely. When that is all over, we go to the golf club for lunch and talk all sorts of nonsense.

Our AGM has come and gone; John White is still at the helm and the committee is largely the same with only one change of a general committee member. I guess that means everyone is happy with the way we are going. The general committee change is that Terry Smith is on board and it’s great to have his club experience on our committee.

So keep flying, keep safe, and keep having fun.


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...
Oct 13-15TaumarunuiTiger Moth Spring fly-inGraeme Wood 027 293 2318 or
Oct 21-22Centennial Park, TaupoTaupo Gliding Club 50th
Nov 4-5RaglanBlack Sands fly-inBruce Cooke 021 11 22 364 or
Nov 23-26OmakaSouth Island Akro Festival (aerobatics fly-in)Andrew Lowe 021 818 816 or
Feb 3OmakaHealthy Bastards Bush Pilot ChampsCraig Anderson 029 8904910 or
Mar 2-4WhitiangaTiger Moth Club AGM and fly-inGraeme Wood 027 293 2318
Mar 9-11WaipukurauSAANZ Sport AvexClem Powell 0275 999273 or
Mar 30-Apr
Remember to check your notams!
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