Around and about

It’s been a while! My last post was in November and it’s now well into March. I’ve not had a lot to share since then but thought it worth an update now.

First up, my posts are back on the original domain after my foray into SquareSpace. SquareSpace is pretty good for hassle-free posting but I was forever cramming more and more into the one domain to avoid multiplying the cost. Now I’ve got one hosting account with lots of domains again. Anyway…

An early January visit to Wellington Airport netted a series of (almost) head on shots.

Mount Cook Airline ATR-GIE ATR72, ZK-MVB, is up first.


Next is Sounds Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, ZK-SAA.


Next, we switch location into the terminal, where we first see another ATR72, ZK-MVN, taxiing in to the gate on one engine.


Then Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXA is pushed back from the gate prior to departure.


No longer head on, but still concentrating on noses, we see Air Nelson’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q300s, ZK-NES in white, and ZK-NEM in black. This was the first time I had seen ZK-NEM in this scheme.


Here’s a better shot of ZK-NEM when departing later.


Next, we have a pair of business jets. Learjet 36A N82GG sits outside while Cessna 650 Citation III N163JM sits inside.


Getting back to noses, we see Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200, 9V-SRM, at the moment of touchdown, and through a lot of heat haze.


All of those photos were taken in a single visit. Below are two that I took today on a brief stop while out around the town on a stunning day.

Resident Nanchang CJ6, ZK-MAO, was awaiting its turn at the fuel pump.


Anf finally, trying to hide from me, is Agusta-Bell AB206A Jetranger, ZK-HMU. It’s hiding behind Air2There’s Beechcraft B200C Super King Air, ZK-MYM.



Credit to local avgeek, Scott, for prompting the name of this quick post. (I decided to alter the tone slightly.)

Undoubtedly to cater for demand resulting from the football world cup match held in Wellington today, Air New Zealand laid on some extra flights including two from Auckland to Wellington using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, ZK-NZF.

I was stuck at home all day but was favoured with a southerly, which means ILS approaches go almost directly over my house.

Here’s a shot of ‘NZF at 8:30 this morning. The crew had the gear down long before passing over.


Whereas the later flight around 1pm left the gear lowering until right overhead.


And if you’re not a fan of the arty, in-to-the-sun shot (can you see the shadow?), here’s a more conventional one. In this shot, you can see very faint vapour trails coming from the back of the wings.


Almost summer

The last weekend in October gave us the best weather in a long, long time in Wellington. Just longer than a month after the Spring Equinox, the beaches were packed and it seemed like every Wellingtonian was out doing something. Including this one.

My wife and I went out to Lyall Bay beach for a walk, and of course it is adjacent to Wellington Airport. While we were walking I saw departures of RNZAF Hercules and NH90 plus the arrival of “some kind of business jet” that I could not identify from where I was.

At the conclusion of our walk, I drove over to the airport just in time to capture the arrival of what I guessed was the same NH90 I had seen depart earlier. It turns out, it wasn’t the same one, but more on that in a moment. Here is NZ3303 creating its own heat haze to add to that of the warm Wellington day.


Whilst capturing the NH90, I noticed a small jet sitting outside the RNZAF Air Movements hangar and determined it to be an RAAF machine. I was not wrong, as when I nipped around to the other end of the apron, I found Bombardier Challenger CL604, A37-033.


On my way around the apron I also spotted this gorgeous Cessna 182RG Skylane, ZK-ETX.


I also FINALLY caught an all-white DHC-8-Q300, VH-SBW (no relation to the All Black with the same initials) which is operating for Jetstar.


Finally, when heading back to the car near the Aero Club, I spotted this gorgeous machine – Piper PA-46 Malibu, VH-BHR.

Please note this image was taken with my iPhone 8, so is not up to my usual quality standards. It was so close to the fence and I only had my 55-300mm lens with me.

It was while ogling this that I spotted Rodney and had a quick chat with him. He told me that the previously departed NH90 was a different machine and that I had missed a RNZAF 757 departure, too. He suggested all the military activity was likely related to Exercise Southern Katipo which is occurring in the Marlborough region, just across the water.

One final thing I’d like to say is that over the last week or so I have changed the size of images that I upload to Flickr. For a while now, they have been limited to 2.7 megapixels, which usually resulted in something about 2000 pixels across the long side on a regularly framed image. At this size, I was finding that my images didn’t look their best on an iPad and were quite obviously less than their best on large screens like that on my iMac 5K. Now I’ve upped my standard size to 3200 pixels on the long side. Most images will now look a lot crisper on high definition displays as a result. Square images will be enormous! Note that a handful of images will be less than this size as a result of the original not having enough pixels to offer, usually as a result of tight cropping.

Catching up

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything new here – three months. But my camera has not been idle. In fact, I’ve upgraded my camera, but these shots below are from the old one. You’ll have to wait until I have the chance to train the new one on some TTF (Things That Fly – although…)

These shots cover three trips to Wellington Airport, though all within the space of less than a week in early August.

Friday 4th August was a bit of a miserable day, as these two photos show. The shadows cast on Wellington Aero Club’s Piper PA-38 Tomahawks, ZK-WAC and ZK-TAW, suggest some bright weather, but the sodden tarmac and the rainbow in the background suggest otherwise.


The weather is a bit more obvious in this shot of Mount Cook Airline’s ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, and Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NER (along with photo-bomber ZK-TAW).


Roll forward to Saturday 5th August and the weather was a whole different affair, as seen here with Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NEE, lifting off into the blue sky, with the blue Cook Strait behind looking reasonably calm.


It was also a grand day out for those who took the Wellington Aero Club Nanchang CJ-6, ZK-MAO, aloft.


Come Wednesday 9th August, the weather had closed in again. It is winter, after all.

Mount Cook Airline’s ATR-72-600, ZK-MVH, wades through the puddles en route to the terminal, with Rescue 5 crossing in the foreground.


Finally, this was the first time I have been on hand in the terminal for an arrival of Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-Canberra-Wellington service. Here you can see Boeing 777-200ER, 9V-SRP, a moment before touchdown.


All of the photos from these three days can be seen over on Flickr.

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

June 10th saw myself and a few family members take a trip to Christchurch to visit the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. The trip transpired because we became aware that their 80 Years in 80 Stories exhibition, which features life-size cut-out photographs of RNZAF members over the years, contains one of my father.

It was a great trip and we are especially thankful for the personal attention paid by museum volunteer (and ex-RNZAF member) Don Simms.

The museum is a fantastic place to visit and from what we heard, is only going to get better in the years to come. I didn’t take a whole lot of photos because the conditions were a little tricky, but I have managed to pull together an album of 21 shots on Flickr. Here’s a small taster.

This is probably my second favourite aircraft in the collection. I’ve seen plenty of black and white photographs of Lockheed Hudsons and they’ve never really appealed to me as a design, but seeing one “in the metal,” as it were, has made it grow on me. This is NZ2013.


Next favourite on my list is this beautifully finished example of an Airspeed Oxford, PK286, of the RAF. It sits currently in a newer part of the museum which has a lot more light. A little too much on a stunning Christchurch day.


This Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XVIe is not serialled, but is finished as a RAF 485 (NZ) SQN aircraft. I quite like how the pilot and his parachute are used to give it a little more context.


And finally, the main attraction for us, and obviously my favourite aircraft in the collection. Here’s Bristol 170 Freighter, NZ5903, that Dad will have flown many times.


You can just see behind the fourth step there is a cut-out figure…


A little bit of Welly

I had a day off work, the sun was out, and I was encouraged to leave the house. You know what happened next.

There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic, but what was there was somewhat interesting, and I took photos from a bunch of different spots.

Speaking of spotting spots – I was up on the seawall at the south end of the runway when someone yelled “Restricted area!” from a moving vehicle. I didn’t see them so don’t know if it was AvSec or any other airport authority. I did move on not long afterwards but had AvSec decided to come and have a chat, they would certainly have had time before I left. I know there are “Restricted Area” signs, including one I passed by the windsock, but I’ve been going up there for YEARS as have all manner of people including groups of kids, walkers, dog walkers, mountain bikers, and I’ve even been up there when AvSec staff were around and they said nothing. Heck, I have a photo of an AvSec officer in the area with some other people. What’s the deal there? I note they are making it incredibly difficult to park anywhere nearby now.

Anyway, first up from the handful I’ll include here, I was rather pleased with this angle on Air New Zealand’s second youngest Airbus A320, ZK-OXL, which is now just a little over a year old.


With the recent retirement of (almost) all of the freight Convairs, Air Chathams’ examples become more of a rarity. Here, ZK-CIF departs RWY34 at a fairly sprightly rate of climb for the type. Must have been lightly loaded as there wasn’t a whole lot of wind.


I think this is the first time I’ve seen Sounds Air’s corporate-configured PC-12, ZK-PLZ. It’s certainly the first photo I’ve taken. I was intrigued by the three different types of chocks in use.


And finally, a new airframe for me, I think, is Singapore Airlines’ 777-200ER, 9V-SQK. I was astonished at how quickly it slowed on the runway after touchdown. I believe it is required to take the full length before exiting, but from what I saw it would have had no trouble exiting RWY34 at A4, possibly earlier.


Interestingly, this was the second 777-200ER I had personally sighted on the day. From home, I watched 9V-SVI operating SQ297 pass by at around 16,000ft over Cook Strait on its way to Ohakea, where it was diverted due to fog at Christchurch.

It flew on to Christchurch in the early afternoon, arriving four hours behind schedule.

I published a total of 24 photos from this visit, which you can find over on Flickr.

Classic Fighters 2017

On Saturday, 15th April, I went to the Classic Fighters air show at Omaka with a couple of family members. For the first time, I experienced a Gold Pass ticket.

While I was a lot less tired at the end of the day, having been seated for much of it, I did find some downsides to the experience. Firstly, the grandstand was set well back from the fence and some people had chosen to remain at ground level and appear in some of my shots of aircraft taxying past the stand. Secondly, being in seating meant I had to remain seated to avoid blocking those behind me and this made it much more difficult to pan my camera, resulting in quite a lot of motion-blurred photos. If I go the Gold Pass route again, I think I will take advantage of the plastic chairs available to people at ground level and take a position at the fence.

In any case, from the 672 photos I took, I’ve tweaked 122 of them for publishing, which you will find in my Flickr album. Below, I have 13 examples which represent those types that were of particular interest to me, most because they were new to me, some because I haven’t seen them in a while or they have undergone significant change.

First up is this gorgeous machine is Sopwith Snipe, ZK-SBY. This was designed to take on the Fokker D.VII which its ancestor, the Camel, could not. By all accounts, it was very successful in this role although it only reached service a month before the end of the war.


This curiosity was part of the Pioneer Transport Race, which involved runners, Penny Farthing bicycles, period cars, and three period aircraft. While the “electric Bleriot” never attempted a takeoff, and the Bleriot XI replica made a brief foray a few metres off the ground, this plucky Bicyclette de Pischoff replica, ZK-JAH, not only took off to a decent height but also made a couple of orbits of the field. This is even more impressive given it was built and flown by a talented 18-year-old.


Photos cannot do justice to this Ryan ST3, ZK-ABC. Its gleaming metal looked fantastic in the bright sunshine.


I’ve seen Avro Anson, ZK-RRA, before but on this occasion it was fitted with smoke generators on the engines which gave this display quite a new feel to it. As you can see from the photo below, the aircraft was thrown around the sky with some vigour.


Here’s another aircraft I’ve seen many times before, but which has undergone a transformation. After 18 months of overhaul, the RNZAF’s Historic Flight Harvard, NZ1015, has been repainted into the scheme it apparently wore when it was first delivered to the RNZAF in 1942.


A new mark of Spitfire for me is this awesome looking Mk. XIV, appropriately registered ZK-XIV. It would have been nice to see this display on its own to get a feel for the sound of the Griffon engine, but alas it was accompanied by other Spitfires, ZK-SPI, and ZK-WDQ.


One of the show drawcards was this Australian-registered Yak-3U, VH-YOV, which has been a Reno racer in a past life. You can see the writing on the side which details the world speed record it attained. It’s an impressive sight, especially head-on.


This aircraft is one I’ve seen before but it spent some time in Australia in the interim. Ex ZK-TBM in its previous Kiwi life, Grumman Avenger, ZK-TBE, is an incredible sight barrelling around the sky with its characteristic ‘rattle and hum’ engine note.


This was the most surprising aircraft of the day. When it was wheeled out on its launching ramp, I assumed it was just a static model. However, it appears to be powered by five small ducted fans mounted in the front of the ‘pulse jet’ engine and I’ll be damned if the thing didn’t fly! It was operated by remote control, just like a hobby radio controlled aircraft. A fantastic sight, especially when, with considerable historical accuracy, it was chased by the Mk.XIV Spitfire!


Ahhh, De Havilland! I’ve always been a fan of the Devons in RNZAF service. This airframe was the original NZ1805, brought on charge with the RNZAF in 1952, although it spent about 30 years out of the skies, most of which time it was known as INST219 at the RNZAF Technical Training School down the road at Woodbourne. Purchased from the air force in 2011, it now holds the registration ZK-ZKF, although it displays only the RNZAF serial under CAA warbird regulations.


Last time I was at Omaka, in 2011, we were promised an engine run up and taxi of Bristol Freighter, ZK-CPT, but it didn’t happen for technical reasons. This year, I was running around after food in the lunch break when it was taxied out right in front of the grandstand! I did catch a quick glimpse through a gap between tents and happily, my brother-in-law captured a cellphone video of it right in front of where he was sitting.


The RAAF brought a couple of DHC.4 Caribous to the Classic Fighters 2007 show I attended and they put on an impressive display. Having retired the Caribous, their replacement type, the Leonardo C-27J Spartan, was present in 2017. It was a fairly benign display, conducted out of nearby Woodbourne, so there were no landings. The aircraft pictured is A34-001.


Finally, this was the first time I have seen the RNZAF’s new aerobatic team, the Black Falcons. Similarly unable to land at Omaka, they arrived en masse overhead and proceeded to do their ‘high display’ which was fairly spirited but all done well above ground level, so I have no close-up shots.


That concludes my sampling of photos for you. You can check out the full set of 122 photos over in the Flickr album.

New Year

With this being the last day of my “holiday” I decided the sunshine was a good reason to head out to Wellington Airport for my first visit of 2017, and just in time to watch the Singapore Airlines 777 landing again.

Notwithstanding some blustery wind, the conditions were great for photography and netted me another 14 photos for my Wellington Airport album on Flickr.

First and last in my images, Piper PA-32 Saratoga, ZK-ZIG, of Golden Bay Air, arrived and departed via the main passenger terminal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere other than the western apron before. All of my photos today came out super clear – so much so I reckon I could sell this photo to the lady in 1A!


The main event, as it were. This time arriving from the south into the stiff northerly. I like how this shot turned out because there’s just enough of the seawall, the Moa Point rocks and the sea, plus a tiny glimpse of Pencarrow Head, so any local will instantly know where it was taken. Today’s service for Singapore Airlines was operated by Boeing 777-200LR, 9V-SQN.


This little beauty snuck up on me so I was very happy my quick snap turned out OK, even if I did end up with a 1/2000″ shutter speed and a stopped prop! This is a 1955 model Cessna 172, ZK-MGR. It is relatively new to New Zealand, having been registered just a couple of years ago to a Blenheim address. All of its previous life, since 1956, was lived in the USA, where it was converted to a Lycoming engine and a Hartzell propeller added.


I just had to capture this scene. Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXI (which I actually had not photographed before), was pushed back alongside the Singapore Airlines 777, showing just what a size difference there is between the two. That A320 is quite a bit closer than the 777!


A pleasing study of Virgin Australia’s 737-800, VH-YIJ as it departed RWY34. While I often try to remove or minimise fences in my photos, this time I decided just to own it.


And finally, my most photographed A320, Air New Zealand’s ZK-OAB, rotates on RWY34. This time I minimised the fence. I could have got rid of that strainer in the corner, but the barbed wire crosses the whole bottom of the photo. Hey, you didn’t even notice until I pointed it out, did you?


And finally finally, a little bonus. This is a quick snap I took of the progress in building Wellington’s new control tower, which is (curiously) located in the carpark of the adjacent retail centre. I was looking at it from near the runway tunnel today and thinking it looks an awfully long way back from the tarmac. I don’t know how much higher it will get, but the view of the apron directly in front of the western hangars can’t be great. This photo is taken looking roughly north, with Tirangi Road to the left.

There are another eight photos over on Flickr if you’d like to go take a look.

Ohakea ’98

I’ve been taking part in some online discussions about the upcoming “Air Tattoo” at Ohakea next month. Mostly they centre around how horrible traffic is going to be in light of the disaster that was the 2012 event. At this stage, I’ve decided I’m not going. While it’s “on my doorstep” and relatively easy to get to, I’m just not keen on sitting in traffic and missing the show and having to pay for a ticket ahead of time for the privilege.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doubling down on the task of scanning my father’s entire negative collection and after reaching 110 films complete, I thought I’d treat myself by scanning some of my own photos taken in my SLR days between 1986 and 2005. How ironic, then, that as I pulled some films off the top of a pile, I should come across four from the 1998 Ohakea Open Day.

I’ve scanned in 98 shots but as these were taken in my manual focus days and are old, they’re not great quality so I have chosen only half a dozen to clean up and publish. Those chosen represent what is unlikely to be repeated in the future – in some cases retired types, in others, present in significant numbers or different colours.

First up is Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing 707-300, A20-629. This type has now been retired from the RAAF for eight and a half years, replaced with the Airbus A330 MRT type.


It’s quite likely all of these types will be seen at this year’s Ohakea event, even the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Hercules, ‘733’, is a possible return visitor. However, you’ll not see a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K Orion in this colour scheme! It was interesting to note that NZ4206, which did the air display in 1998 was in the now standard all over grey scheme while NZ4202, seen here, still wore the older scheme. In the foreground is Beechcraft Super King Air B200, NZ1883, which was fairly new (to the RNZAF) at the time. Technically, you won’t see this aircraft at the show this year, because in 2012 the fleet was returned to their lessor and newer airframes were leased, albeit (unusually, I think) under the same operational serials.


Not much time was left for this little beauty, as the Air Combat Wing would be disbanded only three and a half years later. Aermacchi MB.339C, NZ6469 taxies in after performing in a spirited 5-ship formation display.


Subject to the same fate, the venerable T/A-4K Skyhawk, NZ6255, taxies out for a display. Note it is carrying a “buddy” refuelling tank. My photos do not show whether this was used in the world famous “plugged barrel roll” but at the very least I am sure there would have been a simple flight refuelling demonstration.


There is every chance you will see RAAF F/A-18s perform at Ohakea in 2017, but in recent years – with no RNZAF jets to “play with” – the Aussies have tended not to display more than a solo aircraft. There were no less than eight present on this occasion, and this four-ship display was impressive.


Finally, another study of the soon to be gone Skyhawks, although in this case two A-4Ks, NZ6201 and NZ6202, depart for a display. I miss these showing up at air shows. Some of my fondest memories are of “doing the Linda Blair” trying to figure out when these little rockets were going to try and surprise the audience, often arriving from all four points of the compass at once!


And that’s it. A bit of nostalgia. I must have a whole bunch more photos around my study that I will get to scanning in time (I must concentrate on Dad’s first, though) so no doubt there will be some more gems to come in the future.

Any given Sunday

I mentioned back in August that my Flickr album for Wellington Airport was nearing 1,000 images. After a recent cleanup of my photo collection, the album stood at 992 photos. Rather than wait until I had 8 new images to publish, I decided to trawl back through my collection for unpublished gems and they were the subject of my previous post.

Which brings us to the magic 1,000 photos and the promised “something special” to mark the occasion.

There have been many times I’ve headed out to Wellington Airport and come away with the feeling of “same old same old,” but in reality, there are quite a lot of interesting comings and goings if you chance to be there at the right time. What follows is a selection of 20 photos that I think portray the “less ordinary” side of operations. They are, perhaps, a reflection of what you just might come across on a visit, on any given Sunday.

Sometimes the extraordinary is the result of quirk upon quirk. For a time, Air New Zealand’s Boeing 737-300, ZK-FRE (ex-Freedom Air) wore a bright green “Air New Zealand Holidays” promotional scheme. As if this wasn’t quirky enough, there was a period where it wore a plain white nose cone giving an almost comical appearance.


The following aircraft had a split personality. Registered to Origin Pacific for the four years it spent on the register, ATR-72 500 ZK-JSZ nevertheless spent some time operating flights for Air New Zealand wearing this curious “cross-over” scheme that was basically the original Origin Pacific scheme with titles replaced and the curious and unique, I think, blue koru on the tail.

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Other times, interesting colours resulted from the short-term needs of airlines. For a period of about six months in late 2006, early 2007, Air New Zealand leased a Boeing 737-300, G-THOE, from Thomson Airways. This colour scheme was an easy one spot from a considerable distance.


While Wellington was frequently to see “All Blacks” special schemes in the form of Beechcraft 1900Ds and Airbus A320s, this very special one-time visit of Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER, ZK-OKQ, generated enough interest to attract journalists. The lowest person in this photo was a Dominion Post photographer and his published shot included my sons in the frame – seen directly in front of him in my shot.


Sometimes new colours appear worn by new types. While foreign governments are a significant source of visitors, in this case, it was a foreign sports team. Specifically, the Bahrain football (soccer) team arrived in Wellington to play the All Whites in a World Cup qualifier game at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium. Their mode of transport being Gulf Air Airbus A340, A9C-LI.


Wellington is no stranger to “bizjets” but in recent years it has seen a significant number of larger corporate types, such as this Boeing 737-BBJ (based on a -700 series), N7600K, which belongs to the SAS Institute.


This aircraft is of the same type, but wears USAF serial 020042 (the initial digit generally being omitted on US military aircraft) – and little else! Technically, in USAF service, this is a Boeing C40B.


Other US military airframes are a little more obvious in declaring their allegiance. This Boeing VC32, 990003, brought US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to our shores in November 2010 and had I been able to get a better angle you’d be able to see “United States of America” emblazoned on the side.


USAF aircraft aren’t so uncommon in New Zealand skies, but this slightly more exotic “military airliner” has been here twice. United Arab Emirates Amiri Flight Boeing 787, A6-PFC, snuck into Wellington just after sunset on this occasion, testing my camera and my ability to operate it. The shot was 1/160″ at f/4.5 and ISO 4000!


More exotic, still, is this Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M, “101,” which drew quite a crowd when it was here in March 2007.


When it comes to foreign military services utilising civil designs, it’s not restricted to airliners. Below you can see a US Coastguard operated Gulfstream C37A, serial ’01’, would be known as a G-V in civilian life.


Then again, military operators also fly what could be described as “military-first” types. While there are certainly civilian operated Lockheed Hercules, this RAF C-130J, ZH874, is representative of over 98% of Hercules built for military operators. This model is known as the C.4 in RAF use.


Sticking with the overtly military theme is this Chilean Navy Lockheed P-3A Orion,  VP-1, which dropped into Wellington briefly before heading to nearby Blenheim for maintenance with Safe Air.


Finally, on the military theme, I tend to consider the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III a “modern” type, even though it entered service with the USAF 23 years ago. Even the RAAF, from whence this example, A41-211, comes, have been operating them for 10 years. But for comparison, the RNZAF have operated Hercules and Orions for 50 years!


Completely changing tack now, it’s probably correct to say the greatest number of movements in and out of Wellington Airport, outside of RPT flights, would go to the many rescue and ambulance services. It’s a pretty rare visit to Wellington that I don’t see some evidence of this activity. And while our resident aircraft are super busy, we also see quite a variety of aircraft from other regions, such as this fine example from Taranaki. Agusta A109, ZK-ITR, departs the western apron after a refuelling stop.


The versatility of helicopters also sees them used for pure convenience by those with sufficient means. In other words, when you’ve just jetted in on your Bombardier Challenger biz-jet, why not complete your journey by helicopter, as this punter did in Helipro’s AS355 Twin Squirrel, ZK-HYN.


And then there are those times where arriving by helicopter might just make an awesome day even more awesome. Here comes the bride! Although it would have been more apropos had the lady used local Robinson R44 Raven, ZK-IDO, a BK117, such as Precision Helicopters’ ZK-IED is a sound choice for the aviating bride.


Beyond the basic utility of helicopters are the types of specialist work only they can perform. This Boeing Vertol 107, N6675D, spent some time in the country on various lifting work, primarily logging from what I read. Note the large bubble window allowing the pilot excellent visibility straight down.

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Nearing the end of this selection, we find a unique aircraft in New Zealand skies in Yak-18T, ZK-SSR. It shares a lot of parts and systems with the more common Yak-52 but looks like an altogether nicer tourer.


Finally, and very much in the “what do we have here?” camp, I spied ex-RNZAF BAC Strikemaster, ZK-BAC being refuelled outside the Life Flight Trust hangar, and indeed connected to a LFT vehicle for towing. The aircraft is registered to a Lower Hutt address but I do not know if it is hangared at Wellington. I have noted it operating out of Wellington on a couple of occasions.


And so ends the celebratory post. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the Wellington region, do pop out and see what you can spot when you get the chance. I’ve heard of far more exotic sights than these, too, so you really never know what you’ll find.

These photos have all been republished on Flickr to my latest standards, and I’ve collected them into a new album. Click any photo above to go to the Flickr page, or just head on over to the album.

From the digital shoebox

As you will see in a subsequent post, my Wellington Airport album on Flickr had nearly reached 1,000 images. Having spent a long time in my photo library of late, I had spotted a few aircraft that never made it to Flickr publication and so to get my album up to the magic 1,000, I decided to trawl through and see if I could find enough of that ilk to hit the mark.

First up and barely making it into my digital photo era is Air New Zealand/Airwork Boeing 737-200 QC, ZK-NQC. This was unique in New Zealand in being the only “Quick Change (QC)” model that had a large cargo door (visible in this shot) and could be converted easily between freight and passenger configuration.

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There is a locally based IAI Westwind, but I’ve chosen to include this shot of Aussie visitor VH-AJV. I don’t see these very often, but every time I do I wonder how the darned thing doesn’t scrape on the ground!


I particularly remember the day this Turkish government Airbus A319, TC-ANA, visited. It was the day my wife was undergoing major surgery in hospital. I had some hours to pass while she was in there and so headed out to the airport and was greeted by this.


Of a similar ilk is this Boeing 737-BBJ (based on a -700 series), HZ-MF2, operated by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


I couldn’t believe I had no shots of this aircraft on Flickr. Goodness knows I have a fair few photos of it. Freedom Air’s already brightly coloured, but also Looney Tunes-emblazoned Airbus A320, ZK-OJO.


This shot of Air Nelson (Air New Zealand Link) Saab 340A, ZK-NLE, is a little bit special. Surprisingly I have not previously featured any Air Nelson Saabs, but this photo was from the last day I captured one operating before they were completely phased out in favour of the Bombardier Dash 8 Q300s.


A far less common type is this Jetstream J41 – the longer version of the more common J32 which you can still see flitting around today. From my research, this airframe was only ever registered to Origin Pacific in its time here, but in this shot the titles have been removed, if a little roughly.


The final shot is of the now retired DC-3, ZK-AMY. Owned by Pionair, it was due to be retired around 2000, but the Southern DC-3 Trust stepped in and kept it flying until early 2014. You can read about this era here.


And so concludes my digging into the digital shoebox of Wellington Airport photos. Be sure to watch out for the next post celebrating the milestone of 1,000 images in the album.

Widebody wonder

I managed to get to the airport today just in time to see the third arrival of Singapore Airlines’ SQ291 flight from Singapore and Canberra, along with quite few other spotters, as this was the first arrival on a weekend day.

I’ve noticed some negative slant in the media referring to this as Wellington’s first (so called) “long haul” flight, due to the stopover in Canberra, but there is never any such slant on NZ1 to London, which necessarily stops in Los Angeles. The Boeing 777-200ER travels nearly a third of the distance to Singapore before stopping and only spends about 90 minutes on the ground in Canberra where, importantly, passengers do not need to deplane. Furthermore, there is no need to do the hustle between terminals in Auckland nor worry about a delay on a domestic leg affecting connection to the international.

I wholeheartedly support Singapore Airlines’ commitment to Wellington with their imaginative routing and hope other airlines see fit to do the same.

Anyway, here are a small handful of photos from today.

First up, 9V-SRM (the second airframe to be used on the service after 9V-SRP flew the first two services) approaches the threshold of RWY16.


Next we see a magnificent profile moments before touchdown. I congratulated myself on having put my wider zoom lens on the camera before departing today. This is a very modest crop on a 31mm focal length image!


And finally a shot of it parked at Wellington’s infamous “Rock” international terminal, by this time swarming with airport workers who have around 5 hours to turn it around for the return trip.


Oh, and one more thing. Here’s a bonus pic of a Jetstar regional DHC-8 Q300, VH-TQD just starting its engines for a service to Nelson.



There are close to 1,000 photos in my Wellington Airport album on Flickr and I’ve been planning a little something to celebrate reaching the milestone. While I was going over the contents of the album, it struck me there was something missing.

Back in March 2007, a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M visited Wellington. Rodney caught it arriving on the 20th and commented on the impressive smoke trail.

I caught it departing on the 23rd of March and captured this first shot to show the power of the beast. Not only pouring out its own particulate but liberally redistributing anything loose behind. Not a day to be standing on the sea wall watching!


Here’s a more general view as it raced past on its takeoff roll.


I realised when I located these photos that they were taken the month prior to my decision to publish any aviation photos on Flickr. Before that, I was publishing them on my own site.

Keep an eye out here for something a little special when the album reaches 1,000 photos.


I went out to Wellington Airport again today with the express purpose of photographing a Jetstar DHC-8 Q300 which have so far eluded me.


Job done! I’d sussed the timetable beforehand and noted one was due from Nelson at 11:20. It was only after I’d made it to the airport around 11:00 that I suddenly thought about Jetstar’s reputation for timeliness! Fortunately, it was within minutes of schedule.

It was quite blustery but there was a fair amount of GA traffic about including Wellington Aero Club‘s Cessna 172, ZK-FLT and two of their Piper Tomahawks, ZK-WAC and ZK-TAW pictured here passing over the field – something both Tomahawks did in succession.


There was plenty of other Jetstar traffic, too. Another Q300 had departed right as I arrived (before I was camera-ready) and an interesting A320 had arrived. More on that in a bit. Meanwhile, here’s VH-VGT wearing a mismatched nose cone.


It’s often interesting to observe how the GA traffic mixes in with the commercial with this next situation being somewhat unusual to my knowledge. Aero Club Cessna 172, ZK-FLT, spent quite some time sitting at the hold point for RWY34. So much so that Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXE, used taxiway Alpha 9 instead of the usual Alpha 10 or 11, and then proceeded to backtrack on the runway to obtain the full length.


Finally, here’s the Jetstar A320 which had landed just as I arrived. VH-VFV sports a rather large advertisement for Sunglass Hut on both sides. Not your usual fare for special livery but it’s at least slightly less boring.


These are just a sampling of the 25 images I have uploaded today (out of a total 160 shot!)

One down

I took a week off work this week and didn’t have anything planned for my last day, Friday, because the early weather forecast was for a rainy day. Well, who believes weather forecasters, anyway? At least more than 12 hours out.

So with the sun shining, I decided to head out to Wellington Airport to see what would show up, with specific hopes to catch two types I’ve not photographed in action before. I succeeded with one of them.

Here is a taste of the 16 photos published today. You can see them all over on Flickr.

Air Chathams’ Convair 580, ZK-CIF, roars down the runway in an effort to get airborne. Yes, it looks like a real effort every time – not much climb rate with these things!


Having spent so long capturing aircraft from the same spots around Wellington over the years, I’ve lately been trying for different compositions and a current favourite is this ‘over the shoulder’ angle. Here, Mount Cook Airline (Air New Zealand Link) ATR-72, ZK-MVJ, makes a dash for the air.


Over the shoulder again, but this time arriving, Jetstar Airbus A320, VH-VGQ, touches down starboard main gear first – a bit of a theme with today’s conditions.


I love the background and colouring in this shot of the Life Flight Trust’s Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW, as it floats in for a landing. It landed a little longer than usual due to a late touchdown and had to backtrack on the runway to make the western apron.


Finally! I did photo this example on the ground on a recent visit, but this is the first time I’ve captured a Sounds Air Pilatus PC-12, in this case ZK-PLS, in action. My next challenge is to capture one in proper Sounds Air colours – I think there are two now.


Also missing from my portfolio is a Jetstar DHC-8 Q300 – one of which flew over my house right after I got home. Sigh!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the shots over on Flickr.

Welly, Welly, Welly, Oi, Oi, Oi

Apologies for the title. It’s late and it has been a heck of a day.

And it was a heck of a weekend just gone, too, with no less than three visits to Wellington Airport for the purposes of picking up and dropping off family members. As the appointed chauffeur, I took my opportunities to train my camera on activities as time allowed.

I did this both from some of my usual spots around the airport and also from inside the terminal. There is a fair bit of construction work underway and other changes are being made to the apron operations I presume in concert. Amongst other things, there’s now a great opportunity to observe DHC-8 Q300 operations with Air Nelson’s examples lining up to three at a time in front of near-ground level windows.

Below are a handful of shots to whet your appetite. There are 55 shots in total over at Flickr.

First up, here’s an active scene around the Life Flight Trust’s hangar. Pictured are the “tug”, Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW, the patient transfer vehicle and, unrelated to the activity at the time, what I believe was Helicopters Otago’s BK117, ZK-IME.


Next up is a close-up study of Jetstar Airbus A320, VH-VGF – the airline’s all-over bright orange liveried aircraft. We can see the pilots at work preparing for an early pushback. Yes!


Here’s another action scene with the just arrived DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NFI. We can see the flight attendant, ground handler and pilots going about their business. Not to mention the A320 pushing back in the background. ‘NFI was one of the aircraft carrying a family member.


Over on the other side of the airport, I was checking out the RAAF C-17 (see below) when I was surprised by the arrival of Lowe Corporation’s BK-117, ZK-IBK. It’s been a while since I’ve been caught in rotor wash!


Here’s an aircraft type relatively new to the region, and this is the first occasion I’ve got any decent photos! One of Sounds Air’s Pilatus PC-12s, ZK-PLZ sits at the gate awaiting passengers, doors wide open no doubt to keep the heat at bay.


I’ve definitely got decent shots of Life Flight Trust’s Jetstream J32, ZK-LFW in flight before but I particularly like the angles and clarity I got this time around.


Last up, as mentioned earlier, here is RAAF C-17, A41-211 departing in the golden light. I’ve got several shots of this with things in the foreground which (in the other two cases at least) I think give it a distinctly Wellington flavour.


That’s all for this post, but be sure to check out the rest over on Flickr.

Duxford Spring Air Show, 2001

I’ve been doing a lot of scanning of my father’s black and white negatives over the last 6 months or so and I decided to treat myself by scanning some of my own old negatives. When I say old, mine are from 2001.

The first films I grabbed off the top of the pile were two taken at the first air show of the 2001 UK season at Duxford. Here’s a selection.

This Bae Hawk was one of a handful of modern RAF types present.


Here’s a general view of the types of participants in the show. Visible are a CT-33 (Canadian T-33), Hunter, Kittyhawks, Hawk, Ju-52, B-17, Corsair, Harvard, and numerous Spitfires and Hurricanes. From memory, most of those flew, though I only took 50 photos and not all types were captured airborne.


Here’s a closeup of the CT-33.


And a view of the B-17, “Sally B” taking off.


And finally, a better view of some of the British WW2 types – two Hurricanes, a Spitfire and a Blenheim.


There are 20 more shots in my new album over on Flickr.

Don’t get used to this

Already I have more pics from another visit to Wellington Airport. I used to only include a selection of photos in these blog posts, but I think so long as there are 10 or less I’ll save you the bother of going over to Flickr and include them all here. Of course you can click on any one of them to head to the relevant Flickr page for a bigger version and a browse around, if you want.

First up, on arriving at the airport I missed a Sounds Air PC-12 again. One day I will capture one! I saw it taking off right beside me as I headed in to the Airport Fire Station, where I met Scott. Thanks for the quick tour, Scott! Those trucks are impressive beasts.

After a quick detour I arrived back at the airport and saw the tell-tale smoke trail of the Allison turboprops on this Air Chathams Convair 580, ZK-CIB. I’ve seen this many times before but in line with my recent efforts, I’ve gone for a closeup.


Next up, the Execujet hangar was wide open and sitting outside was the familiar Cessna 650 Citation III, N163JM.


And inside, tucked in a corner, was Bob Jones’s Cessna 510 Citation Mustang, ZK-RJZ.


Meanwhile, out on the western apron, there were no air ambulances today, but quite a collection of types as shown here. From the left, RNZAF Boeing 757, NZ7571, Air Chathams Convair 580, ZK-CIE, and two Wellington Aero Club Cessna 172s. One was ZK-CEO (see later) and the other I expect will be ZK-FLT though I did not confirm this.


Sounds Air’s ever present Cessna 208 Caravans were buzzing around as usual. Here, ZK-SAA gets airborne.


And shortly afterward, the Aero Club’s Cessna 172, ZK-CEO headed off to the Hutt Valley.


Finally, here are two studies of the RNZAF Boeing 757, NZ7571 departing. I had watched this loading and saw (with the aid of binoculars) that it was carrying a large load of civilians, mostly young adults from what I could see. Apart from crew, I observed only a single person in military dress. I would be interested to find out where a plane load of civvies are off to on a January Saturday.



First of 2016

I managed to mis-time a short trip out to Wellington Airport earlier in the week. Too late to meet up with someone and too early to see much in the way of movements. I only took a handful of shots and three made the grade.

I’ve not seen a sharklet-equipped Jetstar A320 before so was pleased to capture VH-VFY departing. Another thing about my timing. A bright sunny day around noon is not ideal for photographing shiny aircraft. Thank goodness for post-processing!


Friend of the blog Rodney commented recently about the number of air ambulances operating in and out of Wellington of late. This day was no exception with three examples present when I arrived.

Air Wanganui’s Beechcraft C90A King Air, ZK-MKG is a familiar sight and I’ve certainly captured it before, but I quite liked this new shot.


Finally, another very familiar sight is a Bombardier DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NEH, of Air Nelson (Air New Zealand Link). This is another example of my recent practice of not always going for the full aircraft in the frame. I quite like the detail present in this shot, including a pilot.


I noticed after posting the best of 2015 pictures that I had previously increased my Flickr upload image sizes from 1200 pixels wide to 2000 and somewhere along the line (probably as a result of a change of software) I had reverted to 1200. These new pictures are at the 2000 pixel size for your enjoyment – you can click any of them here to go to the Flickr page and see it larger.

In the beginning

A while ago I had written on the old site about the origins of ZKARJ on the web and had mentioned the AeroImage branding.

Aero Image screen capture

Recently I was going through some very old backups – I can’t remember why – when I came across an archive of the AeroImage site. What I discovered there jogged my memory that AeroImage was not the first!

Below are two different versions of branding on Kokako’s Nest in late 1999. I think the AeroImage brand took over the following year.

Kokako's Nest screen capture (1 of 2)

Kokako's Nest screen capture (2 of 2)

From what I can tell it was all set up in 1999 and had changed appearance at least twice and name once within around 18 months. I’ve just changed everything again. I guess it’s what I do.

Herewith, some 17 years later, the original 9 photographs that started my online presence. (I note the copyright date on the photos is 2000. I think they were without copyright for the first year.)