Last time I saw this 'Miss Dixon' was a collection of parts in a hanger. Although it looks like a Mustang this is 3/4 size Titan T-51 kit aircraft.
Well, to be more accurate, was a Titan T-51 kit as John has put a lot of effort into modifying the bundle of bits which arrived in the crate. Several years of fabrication, flight testing and modification have resulted in a very impressive aircraft.
It was very cool to be allowed to sit in the pilots seat and start her up (with John instructing from the rear seat) but that is as far as went today. 'Miss Dixon' is flying but I'm no pilot, pity flight simulator doesn't count, and it doesn't have certification to carry passengers yet. When that paperwork is sorted I'm lining up to be on the passenger list!
PS: 'Miss Dixon' is Johns' wife 😊
(I say 'Uncle John' as can't be bothered with the correct term for your mothers cousins husband: first cousin-once-removed-in-law!)
It started as a day out, in lieu of to birthday present, for my Dad but had a surprise ending even I didn’t anticipate. The Whitianga (Mercury Bay Aero Club) Warbirds and Wheels Air show was the drawcard but our mode of transport was an attraction itself, even made the local paper.
We flew from a rather gloomy damp Ardmore to sunny Whitianga in the Fly DC3 Dakota. The last time I flew in a propeller piston Douglas Commercial was a QANTAS DC4 Skymaster which operated into the mid ‘70’s servicing Norfolk Island. TEAL/Air New Zealand chartered these aircraft for the Auckland–Norfolk Island route from 1955 to June 1975. I think the Island was too small for large jets and the rules didn’t allow twin engine aircraft to fly that far over water. My grandparents lived at Norfolk and I still remember the, seemingly endless, flight I did at about age 6 or 7.
Fly DC3’s aircraft looks almost new with smart RNZAF colours. After the usual pre-flight formalities we were off to Whitianga. The crew are all current/former commercial airline staff dedicated to sharing their love of flying in this beautiful old aircraft. Although it was only a short 20 minute flight scooting over the Coromandel hills made for a fun flight.
The air show had a great mix of aircraft from WW2 era fighters, lovely Spitfire included, to modern super aerobatic aircraft.
The DC3 did several joyride flights during the day including taking up bunch of parachutists (more on that later) who did a brilliant display. Although it looks like a Mustang the 3/4 size Titan T-51 (bottom right) was interesting to see. I know someone who is building one and hope to get a ride when it is ready for passengers!
It wasn’t all overhead action with the local stock-cars racing on the Speedway Track beside the airfield.
Although we arrived pretty early, so the DC3 pilots could attend the air show briefing, the day literally flew by! There was a mix of formation and solo displays, aerobatics and even a gyrocopter to keep people gazing skyward.
Some modern hardware on display included jet trainer and winch patient recovery by the Westpac Helicopter.
We were supposed to fly home on the DC3 but arrived to find it wasn’t looking quite as smart as earlier in the day. A propeller seal had leaked spraying the engine & cowling with oil. I suspect old aircraft use a bit of oil but it appears this was a little bit too much!
Unfortunately the repair required removing the propeller, and a lot of cleaning I bet, so we weren’t able to fly home. The Fly DC3 folks were great; arranging a bus and DC3 wing shade bus stop to await its arrival!
Although it didn’t quite end as expected it was still a great day & I’m planning to Fly DC3 again!
Back in 2006 when Air New Zealand introduced new baggage controls on domestic flights I had quite an email ‘discussion’ on the matter of weight (excerpt below) and passengers.
They said the new charges were to control fuel use, efficiency, not gather revenue and I argued they were penalising average mass passengers. Irrespective of your size you pay extra for more than 20kg luggage:
“Air NZ allow 20kg luggage then charge $5kg over that which is fine except…
I weigh 68kg which means if the gross weight of me + my luggage exceeds 88kg I start paying. According to the CAA the average passenger weight is 85kg so Mr Average sitting beside me doesn’t start paying until his gross weight is over 105kg. That’s hardly fair but the answer is simple:
Weigh the passenger and their luggage
Charge the anything above the average 105kg (85 + 20) at $5/kg
Discount anything under the average 105kg at $5/kg.
Since the aim is to control weight, not increase revenue, in future I’ll be asking for my $85 ($5x17kg) discount when I fly Air New Zealand or taking 17kg extra luggage.”
They weren’t very keen on that saying it would be "discrimination” to charge by this method. Seemed to me at the time they were happy to discriminate against those with lesser body mass but not greater.
Anyway, todays report that Samoa Air have gone even further and dropped “per seat” airfares entirely in favour of charging by the kilo (total mass of passenger and luggage) had me cheering. Bravo Samoa Air, you’ll get my business whenever the opportunity arises!
Introducing a world first: 'Pay only for what you weigh'!
We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.
The Sky's the Limit!
PS: Also quite happy that after drifting nearer to 75kg over the years I now weigh the about the same as I did in 2006! No special diet effort; just a bit of biking, dog walking and snacking on fruit & vege between meals rather than junk.
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I looked up knowing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was somewhere in New Zealand. I even knew earlier in the day @dannews had been fortunate enough to fly to Christchurch in it.
Immediately above a sleek twin engine jet was passing over glinting in the sunset. It's hard to judge the size of an aircraft without reference to the horizon, maybe it was the 787?
Web tech to the rescue as the Flightradar 24 phone app proved this was an Emirates 777-300 at 11,000ft. A very nice aircraft indeed, but not a Dream.
While walking the dog I heard the distinctive sound of an old aircraft engine. Looked up to see a de Havilland Dragon (like the one below) heading west. As I watched, in the background, an Air New Zealand Boeing 777 broke through cloud — gleaming white in a beam of sunlight — on approach into Auckland. Unfortunately the iPhone camera didn’t get close to capturing it in any worthwhile detail. I wished I was carrying a real camera!
Amazing to think only sixty five years development separates these two.
Events at home foiled my plan to visit Seattle on the way home from Autodesk University last year. I got to see the airport but only during a 3 hour stop over. A visit to Boeing is still on my to do list, maybe next time?
I love visiting aircraft factories and this is why, when British Airways invited me to fly to Seattle and witness the delivery of a new 777-300ER airliner, I jumped at the chance. I fly a lot, both as a pilot and a passenger, and I really wanted to see how Boeing built them and what a new plane actually felt like...