Dad collected me in the morning, and drove me back out to the airstrip. There was a low overcast hanging over the whole area; we were very glad that we’d taken our scenic flight the day before, instead of the original plan of doing it this morning. I took off to the north, and started retracing my steps towards Ardmore; my first stop, however, would be Hamilton for some fuel. I snuck along below the cloud, keeping well clear of terrain, and called up Hamilton a little way from their airspace. It seemed like a fairly busy airport, with a lot of student traffic coming and going.
Tower gave me a straight in landing, and then directed me turn by turn past a queue of outgoing student traffic to find the AvGas pumps. I was heading in to Waikato Aviation, who helped me out with a loaned fuel card. I filled up the mains, and went inside to the cafe where they were advertising “The world’s best chocolate brownie”. As something of a connoisseur, I figured I should be the judge of that; I found it to be excellent, although not quite the best I’d ever had! Brunch snack completed, I returned to Planey and took off from the smaller of the parallel runways, heading back to my temporarily adopted home of Ardmore.
The final flight back was smooth, and after landing at Ardmore I taxied back to Warbirds and parked up in what was to become my usual space. After covering up the aircraft, I reclaimed my rental car and headed into the city.
I had a room at the Parnell Pines hotel for the next two nights; my father was staying there until he left for home. On arrival I was delighted to discover that there was a “Chocolate Cafe” directly opposite the hotel. This would be somewhere that I’d definitely be visiting. That evening we met my uncle for dinner, before heading back to the hotel and bed.
After breakfast at the hotel cafe the next morning, we made our way out into the city. We started with a little souvenir shopping for family before heading to the Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). The museum is divided up into two sites, imaginatively named MOTAT 1 and MOTAT 2. We visited them in order; MOTAT 1 deals with the technology side of things, along with motor vehicles and trams. There were excellent exhibitions on New Zealand technology companies such as Rocket Lab, as well as a fascinating selection of cars and other vehicles. A particular highlight was one of the modified tractors that became the first vehicle to reach the South Pole.
MOTAT 1 also hosted an exhibition on “The Flying Kiwi”. Cliff Tait set out in 1969 to fly around the world in a New Zealand built Airtourer aircraft. At the start of his journey he had only 80 hours flight time, and very basic instrumentation.
Compared to his endeavours, my trip was very straightforward! Unfortunately he was not able to secure permission to fly through Russia, and had to have the aircraft shipped across that part of the route, but it was still an incredible achievement.
From MOTAT 1 we took the museum tram to MOTAT 2. This hosts aviation, military and rail; although the latter two were not open. The aviation displays were excellent and I was pleased to be able to see Cliff Tait’s Airtourer, Miss Jacy, in the flesh. Compared to the Airtourer, my C182 seemed like an airliner! Particularly impressive were the enormous flying boats; you really don’t realise the scale of them until you see them up close.
Dad and I went out for an early evening meal, as he was heading to catch his flight out of Auckland that night. After an excellent Italian, we stopped in to the Chocolate Boutique for a ridiculously chocolatey dessert.
After dinner we said our goodbyes. I was really going to miss him! He made his way to the airport, and I headed out to Ardmore to attend an event. Captain Bob Pearson was in the country on vacation and had very kindly agreed to give a talk about the “Gimli Glider”; the 767 that he was piloting when it ran out of fuel over central Canada. He and his crew brought it in for a successful landing at the old Gimli airport, on a runway which happened to be hosting a drag racing contest at the time! Everybody survived, and it was great to hear the first hand accounts of both him and his partner, who had been in the main cabin during the event.
I checked out of the Parnell Pines the next morning; I’d be relocating to an AirBNB close to Ardmore airport. First though, it was time to take care of some maintenance for pilot and plane. Breakfast, followed by a haircut, and then to Warbirds to collect Planey and take him across the airport to Oceania Aviation. I had put a message online asking for anywhere I could carry out my routine maintenance; oil and filter change, spark plug service and so on. Sean from Oceania had responded and invited me over, so late morning I turned up and was greeted by Lewis. We nosed the airplane up to the hangar, and got to work.
Lewis was a huge help, and before long we had the cowls off and the oil drained. We got the spark plugs cleaned and rotated, a new oil filter in, and fixed a few odds and ends that were coming a little loose on the newly installed engine. Overall, everything looked great though, which gave me added confidence for the long Pacific legs that were still to come.
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