AL2, back after 9 weeks

Yes, been on holiday to The Netherlands since I got my Advanced Local license, then a few bad weather weekends, then I had to go on holiday again, tramping in the Aspiring National Park πŸ™‚ and now, yes I can fly again !!

My instructor Terry offered to hop in the plane with me to see if my memory and instinct was still working after not having flown for 9 1/2 weeks.

All went well, after a few little comments, except for my flares, the very last thing of landing. This is also the one routine I had most problems with during my training when I switched over to this taildragger.
But yes after a few circuits it got better and better. Terry hopped out of the plane and I did a few more circuitrs, solo this time. But yes this flare is something that needs reminding/practicing all the time, also under different conditions! So next time I will be doing just circuits, low level if its nice and quiet, so I can do more of them !Β  πŸ™‚

Very big tappet clearance

Yes decided to see if the Bleriot was still there. Had been busy getting my Advanced Local pilot license, been on holiday to The Netherlands, then on Xmas holidays tramping in Aspiring National Park….

Its been since July that I last worked on the engine. So I checked the 5 front spark plugs that were still loose and disconnected, cleaned that one black one again, and connected the ignition wires. Next I thought, might as well check the tappet clearance, just in case.
And GUESS WHAT !!!!!! The exhaust clearance of the dirty cylinder wasn’t 15 thou (about 0.4mm) that is should be but 4 – 5mm !!!!!!!!! No wonder that cylinder had problems breathing. That exhaust would have been open for a very short time during the exhaust cycle.

So fixed that clearance setting and tried starting the engine, only to find out that my battery had died, well pretty sure, so will check it out later at home.

That was that session, but quite stoked having found this one issue. Its been there since July. Still think that my old carb is the way to go for now so will stick with that one !

AL 1, my first Advanced Local flight !

Only one day before I go on holiday, back to The Netherlands to see my family. Its my dad’s 80th, looking forward to that !

After getting my Advanced Local Licence a week and a half ago, I really wanted to have a little flight, my first Advanced Local flight, before my big trip. This Thursday morning was perfect, made a 0.9hr flight, just after 0700 so I wouldn’t be to late for work.

A bit of a frost at home on the lawn, so when I got to the hangar and pulled KNZ outside, I topped her up with fuel, checked the coolant and the oil before I ran the engine for a few minutes, to warm it up. That was followed by my pre-flight checks. All good.

And my flight. Yes took off from Rangiora, flew West to Oxford, turned around, towards home, over Forest Field, via Cust and Back to Rangiora. Here I joined, and completed my flight with a glide-approach a big side-slip, and a perfect landing πŸ™‚

Yes this (glide-approach and side-slip) is something I want to do as often as possible, to be prepared for a no engine event (engine failure)! Being able to land like this gives you a better chance to get into a paddock and land properly.

I mounted my little video camera to my head-set and recorded the whole flight. Below is just a bit πŸ™‚

0:00 – Intro
0:15 – Take-off on RWY25, vacating the circuit, tracking Oxford
2:16 – Getting closer to Oxford, pointing where it is πŸ™‚
3:07 – Flying over home @ 3:42, with big dairy farm (our neighbour) on the left
4:00 – Joining Rangiora circuit, checking out a plane who’s just taking off on RWY07
4:29 – Descended to 1000ft AGL into cross-wind over the RWY25 threshold, and last check of the windsock. Yes its RWY07
5:06 – Reaching the end of down-wind, initiating a glide-approach, engine idle, sweeping turn followed by a side-slip into RWY07
Next time I need to create a bit more of a gentle turn as I was a bit to high, but all good. Keep on practicing!!!

Flight 59/60, Advanced Local Pilot Licence !!!

I took half a day off from work yesterday morning (Friday). Had a 1 1/2 hr lesson from Dave as preparation for my Advanced Local flight test today. As I had been flying with Terry for the last few months and he is new to instructing, yesterday was a good test to see if I was ready for it.

Well definitely a few thing to brush up there. Mainly theoretical things, procedures:

HASELL; the things to check before doing Stalls:

  • Height; enough, more then 2000ft, so its safe to stall as you easily drop a few hundred feet
  • Air-frame; plane configured correct, flaps neutral, engine ready to idle
  • Security; safety harness tight, no loose objects
  • Engine; enough fuel, temperatures correct, fuel pump on
  • Locality; stay away from build up areas
  • Lookout; to a 360 turn to see if there is no one around

And what to do in case of an Engine Failure:

  • Glide, nose down and maintain the optimum glide speed (least amount of drop per minute)
  • Wind-direction, know where the wind comes from to select a landing spot
  • Field-selection, find a nice long enough field, no animals, no fences, no power lines, no trees on start of field
  • Plan-descend, visualise the descend path, know when to turn into finals
  • Engine-final-check and Plan-descend; see if there is a reason for the engine failure; fuel, switches AND plan descend again
  • May-Day-radio-call and Plan-descend; send MayDay, MayDay, MayDay, CallSign, CallSign, CallSign, Location, # PeopleOnBoard, EngineFailure
  • Brief-passenger; tell him to secure safety harness, explain where we are landing, tel him to look out for houses so we know were to go after the landing

So yes last night I did some learning…

And also I wasn’t aggressive enough with my stalls. A bit scared from my side I suppose. After closing the throttle, raise the nose, and gently pull the stick ALL the way towards you. Wait for the stall (and apply opposite rudder when one wing drops to prevent a spin) then move stick forward 2 inch, apply power and pull up again. From the moment it starts stalling you are looking at the ground!! and that looks scary but because you have lots of height when practicing, thats all good. Just need to do it lots and get used to it. All practice for the day when it happens when you don’t expect it.

And the last thing I had to brush up a bit was my side slipping. Also not aggressive enough. Full right ruder and left aileron and forward stick to maintain a good speed. That will get you down, loose altitude really quick. This is mainly used with forced landings, and to a lesser extend with normal landings when the engine is working. But even here, a normal landing, you always need to be prepared for an engine failure, so I should always be too high and side-slip the last bit into the runway so I always have enough height in case the engine does fail….

We also did something new. Slow flying. Basically slow the engine a bit, pull up the nose and maintain the same height. Then slowly drop the engine speed and raise the nose more to maintain the same height. All that time the plane goes slower and slower, eventually well below the stall speed. But because the engine is blowing more down now you’re not falling out of the sky…… The reason for all of this is to experience that at this stage the ailerons stop working so stick sideways stick is hardly doing anything or nothing at all. The only thing that works is the rudder. So yes that was a first for me but Dave talked me through it and it worked !

So yes today, as you can see below, a perfect day. Did all the things we practiced yesterday and implemented all the procedures I rehearsed last night. Also did turns, left and right, gentle and steep while maintaining height. Did lots of stalls, and all going well. Did some forced landings, did’t get down fast enough down for the first one, but second and third one were good enough. When we joined the circuit again, after the first touch and go did an engine failure practice straight after take-off, landing in the river bed, just beside the air-field, down to 20ft….. Also did a final with to much height and aggressively side slipping into the runway….

When stopped at the club house (see below) Dave told me I had passed !!

YEAHΒ  Β  Advanced Local now. Can fly anytime withing a 50 nautical miles radius now, outside controlled air spaceΒ  πŸ™‚

Advanced Local pilot licence πŸ™‚

In the instructor room we filled in the RAANZ upgrade forms. So its all official now !!!!

Flight 58, low level flight in brisk NW conditions

Sunday today, having a lesson with Terry in low level flight, that’s at 500ft.

The plan is to go via the Ashley river towards the coast, and then North flying over the beach towards Motunau Island. Then over the hills to Omihi and Waipara, back to Rangiora.

BUT, the wind was from the NorWest, and we knew we might have to change plans……

Take off was good, but yes turbulent weather today. Taking of into the NorWest on RWY25 and leaving the circuit via the downwind leg at normal circuit height 1000ft above ground level. As soon as we were a few miles towards the coast I started descending down to 500ft, and that is quite low…. The air was a bit nicer to us down here, but as soon as we reached the hills from Amberley, the down draft of the NW wind over the hills there was really bad. I am sure it would have been OK higher up, but that’s not what today’s lesson was about. So we turned around and followed the hills towards Waipara. The idea is that you fly at an angle of 45deg with the ridge of the hill when crossing it, so that you can quickly turn if you want to for what ever reason. That’s all today’s lesson was about, knowing how to go across one safely.

When we reached the other side, I followed the State Highway up to Omihi, and turned around back towards Waipara and Amberley, still flying at 500ft above the ground. I am glad I did this lesson, not just for the low level flying and going 45deg across ridges, but also the NorWest wind, and the turbulence’s associated with it. With Terry as instructor I felt safe, but I am sure I would not have flown solo in these conditions. Not ready for it, but good to experience them. Its like being in a washing machine, up, down, left right…..Β  Just have a look at the landing video below, gives you a little bit of an idea about the wind.

I call it a solid landing, suddenly lost airspeed and got onto the ground, without bouncing !

Tomorrow possibly my “flight test” with Dave before I get my Advanced Local pilot licence. Will let you know how that went πŸ™‚

Flight 57, 3 forced Landings

Yes another Saturday, another flight. A strong NorWester blowing yesterday. Today more of that but it looked like this morning was going to be ok, just not as strong. And yes nice and calm this morning, but signs of the NW on the sky !!

Getting VERY close now to my Advanced Local pilot licence.

I met with Dave the head instructor who has been instructing me until a couple of months ago, and Terry my current instructor. They were sorting out at what stage I was and get me ready for my Advanced Local pilot licence.

While they where talking they send me off, Solo, into the local training area, about 10nm NorthWest of Rangiora, to perform a number of Forced Landings. You basically find a nice padlock into the wind, and simulate a landing , starting at an altitude of 1500ft above ground. The same height you join an airstrip.

Click HERE to see the map below:

3 Forced Landings

When I found a place to land, on the left of me, I closed the throttle, and started descending in the “down wind” leg to about 1000ft. Then turning left (base leg), still descending as the engine has not enough power to fly, until I got to about 800ft, turning into finals.

When in finals, the idea is to aim at the back of the paddock, and when you are ABSOLUTELY sure you are going to make it, you start “side slipping” in order to land just after the fence at the beginning of the paddock.

I went as low as about 100ft, applied power again and flew away 😊

In the map above you see 3 Forced Pretend Landings.

The first paddock wasn’t good ! Had a power line going straight across, not a good place to land !! I didn’t abort that “landing”, just continued this practice landing, staying well clear of the lines.

I wanted another place to practice and found one not far from there. Did 2 more “landings” and felt it was going better every time.

This is also one of these things I suppose, that you need to keep on practicing. Just like a normal circuit, but somewhere in a paddock.

When I got back, I explained to Dave and Terry how it all went, and they were satisfied.

In the mean time they spoke about my progress, and decided that there was one more thing I had to do:

Flying low level, that’s 500ft, the absolute minimum. The plan is to fly to Lees Valley at about 500ft over the ridge to get there and do some low flying there. Then back over the Weka Pass via Amberley !

After that one more thing, a test flight with Dave. He basically asks me to do a few tasks and if all of that goes well, and it should, I get my Advanced Local pilot licence.

So yes almost there ! 😊😊

Acrobatics talk

No I haven’t gone crazy !!!!Β  πŸ™‚

Won’t be doing acrobatics, but we had a very interesting talk here at the club. Our guest speakerΒ Andrew Love, an accomplished aerobatic pilot.

I met Andrew a few times in Omaka during the last two Easter shows, and knew he was building an acrobatic bi-plane. Super nice guy.

Anyway, the reason we invited him here because we want learn more from him. One thing in perticular:


A spin is a state of the plane where its not flying anymore, and literally spinning to the ground ( the earth in yoga terms πŸ™‚ )

You get into this situation when the plane stalls and basically falls side ways. Probably because one wing stalls before the other.

This is all good when you are really high and have altitude left to recover. But when low, like in your finals, or somewhere else in the circuit you DON’T want to be in this position !!!!!

To avoid this, make SURE the plane is IN BALANCE using the slip indicator. Oh yes make sure you are flying, so have enough speed πŸ™‚


Recovering , if you have enough height its “easy“, but something we might want to practice with Andrew as our instructor, in an acrobatic type plane. Its done following these few instructions:

  • Engine IDLE

  • Stick NEUTRAL

  • OPPOSITE rudder

According to Andrew, you will be out of your spin within one revolution.

Oh and by the way you could easily have dropped (fallen down) 500ft …………



Flight 56, XC ForrestField, Oxford, Amberley

The weather this weekend wasn’t looking good, so planned a Cross Country trip for today, early start as usual, before work !
Paul had just installed a new windscreen, yes looking very shiny πŸ™‚
I was planning the reverse of last week. Starting in Rangiora, via Cust, past Forest Field, do another loop around home, then around Oxford. And instead of going to Lowborn Abbey like last time, my plan was to follow the foothills towards Amberley, and then back to Rangiora via the Sefton Chipmill.
And yes that all went beautifully well !

Brand new windscreen

Took off towards the west on RWY25 and straight towards Cust, staying at 1200ft, the circuit height, avoiding any aircraft that would be joining (at 1700ft). But today was very quiet. Didn’t see any one. Heard one plane flying around Burnt Hill, sort of the direction I was going to and later on one doing circuits in Rangiora. So yes had the sky to myself !!!!

Below Forest Field. Didn’t take a photo of it last week with all the radio frequency hoha.. Its just to the right of the centre:

Forrest Field

The views are just amazing. None of these photos with my little “plane camera” justify it. You just have to experience it yourself πŸ™‚
Lots of little irrigation reservoirs on farms, lots of roads, easy to navigate as I know the area quite well.
Next I looped home again, see log at the bottom of his post, and around Oxford with the super market just left of the centre:


Now going to the North East, following the foothills, below the first hill past Oxford. It is named A9V4, funny name that I found on a topographic map, and the Lees Valley Rd going up on the right :


Ashley Gorge with the camping ground, a bit hard to see, but the bridge and river were we swim in summer clearly visible:

Ashley Gorge

Then Glentui, where we regularly go for a walk. That’s in the back, a nice peaceful loop walk there:


Here is Mt Grey with lots of forestry. I felt a bit un easy here with all the forest below me. No where to land if I had to, but NO problems so all good.
Just on the horizon on the right is where I went a few weeks ago with Terry, via the Weka pass, to Culverden :

Mt Grey / Maukatere

And around Oxford, with the new Countdown shop in the centre, back on my way home again :


Just a shot of the Sefton Chipmill here as it was’n “smoking” enough last time:

Sefton Chipmill

Yes had a good time again.
Before I left home, I checked the MetFlight weather report and it had:
15kt wind @ 1000ft 340deg,
15kt wind @ 3000ft 300deg and,
20kt wind @ 5000ft 290deg.
So thats all between North and West.
Well I definitely could feel that. Little “bumps” in the air all the time, especially flying along the foot hills, making me feel a bit up tight, basically waiting for a big one !
But luckily that never came. Just have to get used to them, and relax a bit more, but be ready for when it happens πŸ™‚

If you click on THIS LINK a new tab opens with the map you see below, GREAT :

Cross Country; RT FF Oxford Amberley RT

Running again with OLD carb

I connected a new bit of fuel hose again between the carburetor and the fuel pump, and re-connected the throttle cable again. Looks easy, and it was, but took me an hour….. Oh yes also cleaned 4 dirty spark plugs (from last time) in that hour πŸ™‚

So yes ready for starting the engine:

  1. Primer on, throttle closed, mixture rich, ignition off, magneto’s off; Priming the engine by pulling the propeller over a few times. That makes the engine suck the fuel into the carburetor. I noticed that it was dripping a lot of fuel, more then normal, and I wonder if thats because of the higher compression ratio. I think it is, so that’s good.
  2. Primer off, throttle set (10%), mixture rich, ignition on, magneto’s on; Swing the prop, and there it goes !!!

Yes, as usual, no problem starting !!!

These are my findings:

  • The engine runs nicer, no sound of missing cylinders.
  • Not getting above 2000rpm yet, but it will need more running in I would say.
  • After running for 10 minutes or so, it stopped OK, without continuing to run on, as it did previously, because of cylinders that were to hot.
  • 4 Cylinders now have nice clean spark plugs, and only the one that was supper dirty last time, is now a little blacker then it should be. I’am assuming thats because of oil still leaking past the rings, so that should improve.
  • Ran the engine again for 10 minutes or so, and checked that one spark plug. It still looked the same….

Next time I am going to taxi the Bleriot along the taxi way a few times, to get more engine running in time, and at the same time get some real “plane” time πŸ™‚

Flight 55, first solo XC

Yes did my first solo XC (Cross Country) today.

Basically means you leave the airport where you are based and go somewhere else and navigate a bit πŸ™‚

So yes, arrived just after 0700 I think it was and there she was :

The hanger where KNZ lives

I did all my checks, filled up the petrol tanks and rang Terry. We were talking about the wind conditions and he gave me the OK. It was nice and calm, with a bit of a NE wind, not a lot. But I know it would get stronger.

This is the map I was using for my trip:

Today’s map

So basically starting in Rangiora, going anti clockwise.

First point to fly to was the Sefton Chipmill. Easy to spot as it always has lots of white smoke coming from the chimney, but not today. Just a little bit:

Sefton Chipmill

Flying North just past Amberley, my next turning point was Dave’s property. He has his own private “SHORT” runway. I spotted it from a distance (can you ?). So yes all good :

Dave’s runway

That’s the way to Oxford. A nice day, but a bit of fog ahead of me !! I noticed it driving away from home this morning:

That’s the way to Oxford

Beautiful views:

Just a nice view

Next turning point was Loburn Abbey. I’ve seen it many times before, but never approached it from the East. But again I didn’t have any problems finding it:

Loburn Abbey

And yes getting closer to Oxford with more and more fog! Beautiful views towards the North, looking at Mt Thomas:

Towards Oxford, looking at Mt Thomas

As the fog was to thick, I decided not to go all the way to Oxford, but stay on the edge of the fog, and turn at Harewood Rd. Easy to recognize as I have driven there lots of times. Here you see the little single lane bridge across the Eyre river:

Harewood Rd single lane bridge across the Eyre river

And yes I wanted to circle around our house. Its a bit to the right from the centre, with the drive way loop and the white looking shed πŸ™‚ :

Our house
Our house

Everything was going fine, until I got closer to Forrest Field, my next turning point, the air strip not far from us. I spotted it straight away.

I saw a plane not far from me, but quite a bit higher. So I radio-ed him that I could see him. A few seconds later I saw another plane coming towards me, at the same altitude, so I started turning right, that’s one of the “right of way” rules in aviation, internationally. He descended and went under me. All looking safe, didn’t feel in danger at all at any time. Next someone called me on the radio saying that I was on the wrong frequency ! OOOOOPS

I apologized and quickly changed frequency, and reported my position, altitude and my intentions.

I completely forgot to change frequency. I blame the fog, as it changed my plans,

So important to use the right channel !!!!!!!!!!

Won’t do that again. So no photo of Forest Field.

Next turning point was Cust. Yes looking good, almost home:


I found Rangiora no problem and had a really good landing, considering there was a lot of wind now, a lot more then when I left.

If you click on THIS LINK a new tab opens with the map you see below. And if you zoom in, you can see the turning points that I photographed, GREAT :


So yes had a really good time. Seen fog from above, had beautifully views, made a mistake with my frequency (hopefully learned from it) and had a really good landing. So yes happy !!!

Oh yes rang Terry when I landed to “terminate” my SAR time ( Search And Rescue ). If I wouldn’t have arrived on time they would start looking for me πŸ™‚