Nosing around the aerodrome at Ardmore, I met some friendly pilots who helped me connect with other pilots who introduced me to John McWilliams. This wonderful human being took both of us on an extended aerial tour of the region around Auckland. In minutes we were cruising past downtown.
Soon after the above pic we turned left out to the coast and turned left again to clear AKL and fly along the beaches, before turning left again East across the North Island to Pauanui Airfield on the scenic Coromandel Peninsula.
Anne had the advantage of sitting in the back seat where she could snap cellphone pix like the above, out either of the rear side windows of the Cessna 172. The downside is, those windows don’t open so the pix are fuzzy and color-shifted due to the plexiglass. Out my open window the DSLR I lugged on this “Over Under” (OU) big adventure, this rocky beach passed below as we turned crosswind to enter the landing pattern.
While familiar to our many coastal flights in the U.S., Canada and Bahamas, the jungle has that unique New Zealand look. Turning on the downwind leg, the town sprawling up the hills into forest on the other side of the harbor inlet caught my eye.
While we didn’t take time to walk out and explore those tide pools I’d snapped as we flew over, we did make the short trek to the scenic beach.
John and I paused for some pilot talk under that distant tree, and Anne took a snap of her happy hubby with our new friend.
Soon we were plying the skies that fluctuated between clarity like you see above, haze like the next pic of spiky peaks, and scattered clouds as you’ll see in many pix from this fly day.
Like many C-172’s this one’s front windows can’t be opened more than several inches, so the pic above has added haze from the plexi because I couldn’t shoot through the opening. John kindly raised my wing several times when doing so would enable a clear shot. In clearer air, Anne managed to get this one thru the plexi.
I wish we could share pix that captured the beauty we were seeing! The haze, reduced light from clouds, and plexi all conspired with the human eye’s superiority to cameras. But maybe you still get a sense from pix like this.
I’d love to fly this whole nation in an amphibian aircraft landing on grass strips, lakes, ocean and of course airports. Anne got this view on short final to Great Barrier Aerodrome
We loved the short walk John led us on, taking this path through the jungle.
It opens out to a little village where we bought a couple of mementos at the quirky gift shop.
On our takeoff roll I snapped this view of the jaunty terrain.
We saw so many wonders on this flight, and of course have countless pix. Here’s another one I like, snapped through the clear air below the open window’s plexi as we passed over a small craggy island.
As we descended on approach back to Ardmore, the green hills of New Zealand seemed to reach up and embrace us with a soft welcome.
After fond farewells and appreciation to John McWilliams we were ready to begin another phase of our romance with this charmed land and her warm people, on the South Island.