Waiting at Auckland

In my second catch-up post, I’ve included a handful of shots from a brief trip I made to Auckland in September. It was a work trip, but as it was over a weekend (not to mention the work being overnight), I was able to grab some time at the airport with my camera. Quite a lot of time on my way home – about 4 hours!

Continue reading “Waiting at Auckland”

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 zkarj.co.nz 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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Propstar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Best of 2015

As 2016 gets underway, I’m somewhat re-inventing my online presence again and this time I’ve combined my ‘landing page’ and 3 main blog sites into one. As part of this change, I have been bringing over my most popular or useful content, but for ZK-ARJ that didn’t quite make sense, so I’m starting afresh.

2015 didn’t give me many aviation photos at all so I had to go through them twice to come up with my 10 favourites. Here they are in order.

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Climbing over South Waikato at sunset

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