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.

1998-03-22_R01_F05

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.

1998-03-22_R01_F08

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.

1998-03-22_R02_F11

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.

1998-03-22_R02_F17

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.

1998-03-22_R03_F09

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!

1998-03-22_R03_F25

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.

_IGP3603

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.

2005-05-07 15-08-13

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.

IMGP7207

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.

K5124296_Aperture_preview

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.

_IGP5111

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.

K5124607

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.

_IGP9144

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.

_IGP8448

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!

K5158106

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

IMGP4434

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.

_IGP3792

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.

_IGP7915

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.

_IGP7692

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!

K5169513

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.

_IGP0471

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.

IMGP7112

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.

K5158210

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.

2005-04-17 13-21-41

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.

_IGP3438

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.

K5158557

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.