30 June 2013

The Sky's the Limit - RidgeAir

RidgeAir was formed in 2007 by Marlborough businessman Norm Clifford and has, for some years, been fronted by chief pilot Ross McCullum. Ross has been flying for the last 20 years and holds an Airline Transport Licence with in excess of 10,000 hours flying time on. Before joining RidgeAir he had had 10 years as an airline pilot with a regional airline in Australia on SAAB 340s and Metroliners. The company is based at Blenheim’s Omaka airfield but also operates from the larger Woodbourne airport.

Chief Pilot Ross McCullum with Cessna 402 ZK-VAD. Photo : RidgeAir website
In October 2007 the company commenced helicopter operations with Robinson R44 Clipper ZK-HDD (c/n 299). A Hughes 369D “500D” ZK-HJF (c/n 510963D) was added to the fleet in September 2008 and the company has also used Hughes 369D “500D” ZK-HOI (c/n 510963D) from November 2011 to February 2013. The helicopters have been used for agricultural spraying and fertilising, fire fighting and lighting, thermal imaging, frost fighting and fruit drying, aerial lifting, power line work, hunting and fishing positioning, remote site access and scenic flying. The helicopters are currently operated for RidgeAir by Tasman Helicopters.

Robinson R44 ZK-HDD at Omaka on 9 December 2010... for photos of RidgeAir's helicopters carrying titles see http://nzcivair.blogspot.co.nz/2009/02/more-on-ridge-air.html

In December 2010 RidgeAir took over Ray Patchett’s Patchett Ag-Air and their Gippsland GA200 Fatman ZK-MAW (c/n 200-9721).

The company quickly diversified into air charter and multi-engine training with the purchase of Cessna 402C ZK-VAD (c/n 402C0076) in February 2008. The Cessna 402 was previously operated by Vincent Aviation. After its purchase RidgeAir upgraded its cabin appeal with new leather seats sound proofing and new avionics. The addition of the twin was precipitated by Norm Clifford’s frustration of “booking and missing inconvenient scheduled flights with regional airlines.” He wanted the ability to juggle schedules in line with his business needs and saw the opportunity to offer corporate travel for others in the same situation in the Nelson/Marlborough regions.  

Cessna 402C at Omaka on 9 December 2010
The plush interior of ZK-VAD. Photo : RidgeAir website

A later acquisition was Piper Pa34-220T Seneca IV ZK-BJM (c/n 34-48048) which arrived in November 2010. Both twins are equipped with modern auto pilots, radar, GPS and avionics and are capable of the latest Performance Based Navigation (PBN).

RidgeAir's Piper PA34 Seneca ZK-BJM at Nelson on 23 January 2014
The interior of Seneca ZK-BJM. Photo Source : RidgeAir website

In addition to the air charter work the twins are engaged on photography and filming work, advanced multi-engine instrument training and two crew airline training and In Command Under Supervision (ICUS) training.

RidgeAir has CAA accreditation, Part 135 “Air Operators Certification” for fixed winged aircraft while Tasman Helicopters, which operates the helicopter services also has Part 135 Air Operator Certification.

In May 2013 RidgeAir announced they are operating Monday and Friday return flights between Blenheim and Christchurch to help people do business in Christchurch. Flights depart Blenheim on Mondays and Fridays at 7am and arrive in Christchurch at 8.10am with the return flights departing Christchurch on Mondays and Fridays at 4.30pm arriving in Blenheim at 5.40pm. The flights require a minimum of one passenger to operate. These flights did not seem to operate on a regular basis.

Following the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 RidgeAir commenced working with Air Kaikoura and the Kaikoura Aero Club to provide air transport services into and out of Kaikoura after the Kaikoura earthquake.  

Piper PA31 Navajo ZK-LWN was added to the fleet from November 2017 to August 2018. Meanwhile Cessna 402 ZK-VAD was sold overseas in February 2019. RidgeAir still works closely with Air Kaikoura in providing IFR support to their Kaikoura - Wellington operation using the Piper Seneca ZK-BJM.

29 June 2013

Real Tonga's MA60

AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd. (XAC), AVIC International and Tonga signed on the first MA60 aircraft delivery certificate on June 26. This is the first time that MA60 has been delivered to an Oceania country.

The aircraft delivery certificate was signed by Party Secretary of XAC Song Shuiyun, Party Secretary of AVIC International Zhang Guangjian and Tonga's Ambassador to China Siamelie Latu. The MA60 order was signed in March 2013.

Song said at the delivery ceremony, the delivery acceptance of the MA60 has been accomplished through the joint effort of both parties, making a good start for their cooperation. The MA60 will bring comfort and convenience to the people in Tonga for its excellent performance, he added. Meanwhile, it will enhance the cooperation between Tonga and China in the air travel field and deepen the friendship between the people in the two nations.

Latu appreciated AVIC International and XAC's effort for the delivery of their first MA60. He said the delivery of the MA60 marks a start of the two nations' cooperation in the aviation field, which will help Tonga integrate into the world aviation industry chain. He expects the MA60 aircraft to create more value for the airlines in Tonga for its good performance. The delivery will expand the influence of the MA60 in the South Pacific region, said the Ambassador.

Tonga, officially known as the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and an archipelago comprising 176 islands with a surface area of about 750 square kilometers scattered over 700,000 square kilometers of the southern Pacific Ocean. Tonga established diplomatic relations with China in 1998.

26 June 2013

Sunny Air

While most of the country had battened down the hatches on Saturday, Tauranga was bathed in glorious weather and four of Sunair's sun-worshipping Aztecs were enjoying the day free of covers. Thanks to Sir Minty who captured the line-up on 22 June 2013.

25 June 2013

25 years ago - 25 June 1988... a trip to Palmerston North airport

It was mainly a Piper day - Piper Cherokee ZK-CUT

Piper Warrior, ZK-DUN

Piper Cherokee 6, ZK-DUO

Piper Warrior, ZK-EBH

Another Warrior, the Canterbury Aero Club's ZK-EBS up from Christchurch

...and Cessna 172 ZK-ERB

24 June 2013

25 years ago - 24 June 1988 - A day at Wellington Airport

Cessna 185 ZK-CHK
GY20 Minicab ZK-DAG
Motueka Air Services' Piper Aztec ZK-DIO
ZK-DOA Cessna 206 - this aircraft went eventually to Air Chathams and crashed in Pitt Strait
Cessna 172 ZK-DOL
The Flight Centre's Piper Tomahawk, ZK-EZI
Piper Archer ZK-FIX
Dassault Falcon 20 ZK-MAY enjoying the winter sun
Siai Marchetti F260C ZK-MUR
Ansett New Zealand ZK-NED taxiing into the terminal
Early Air Nelson days... ZK-NSO Piper Chieftain was operating Air Nelson's service
A couple of the Wellington Aero Club's Piper Tomahawk's ZK-PAG and ZK-PAH

Cessna 182 ZK-WFC

A nice airline...

From the Sounds Air Facebook site
Stunning week of weather has finally abated. Friday was a nightmare of a day but in the end we moved over 180 people which was an awesome effort considering we didn't get flying until 3 p.m. and then we moved another 200 passengers yesterday. Many thanks to all our passengers who showed great patience and supreme thanks to all Sounds Air ground crew and pilots who went above and beyond to get the day done. Looking forward to a week of blue skies...
Sounds Air often put nice comments about there passengers and staff on their Facebook site... In a world where we increasingly tend to criticise or find fault it is a nice change. Well done Sounds Air!

23 June 2013

The colourless airline at Auckland today...

Sporting what will be a temporary colour scheme... newly painted Airbus 320 ZK-OJC on approach to runway 23 on 23 June 2013.
While OJC was landing Airbus 320 ZK-OJQ was on push back before taxiing to A1 for departure.
A preview of the fern on Boeing 777-300 ZK-OKQ.
Mount Cook Airlines/Air NZ Link's ATR 72-600 was also in Auckland today.
 And just in case you missed what the final black and white colour scheme will look like...

And this is what we will see as modelled on the Boeing 787

Restoration of an early airliner - De Havilland Fox Moth ZK-AGM

Over the last couple of weeks I have been in contact with Bruce Broady, an Emirates pilot who is in the process of rebuilding de Havilland DH83 Fox Moth ZK-AGM which featured in the post last Sunday...  http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2011/04/nacs-greymouth-service.html

Bruce writes...

I am rebuilding AGM and hope to have it flying next year, it has been a long project for various reasons. I hope the wings and tail surfaces will be finished  by the end of the year, we have started to cover them using Irish linen like original, and are planning  on  final assembly next year some time, AGM is in  the UK as I was living there when I first started to rebuild it, and decided to leave it there until it was finished. I intend to bring it back to NZ.
I decided to paint it in a standard DH Fox Moth scheme as the NAC one was not to inspiring and ADI was already in the Orange scheme.
I have been at Emirates for over 12 years now, that is one of the reasons the Fox has taken so long to finish.  I am on the Boeing 777 fleet.  I haven’t flown a light aircraft in years so when I get the Fox finished I will have to get lessons to learn to fly again. I am not sure but I may fly the Fox in the UK first before bring it back to NZ, depends on how hard it will be to register it in the UK.


Many thanks Bruce for these magnificent photos and write up. I'm sure that like me there will be a lot of people looking forward to seeing AGM take to the skies again.  

22 June 2013

The shortest day at Auckland International

For the first time in ages I had time to sit at the end of Auckland's runway 23 yesterday...

Photo of the day has to go to Boeing 737-700 DQ-FJF repainted in the new Fiji Airways colour scheme...

Resplendent in the new Fiji Airways colour scheme Boeing 737-700 DQ-FJF on finals for Auckland's Runway 23 on 21 June 2013. Air Pacific will change its name and start trading as ‘Fiji Airways’ on Thursday 27th June 2013

China Southern Airlines' Airbus 330 B-6532 on arrival from Guangzhou on 21 June 2013

Another colour scheme in the process of disappearing... Pacific Blue's Boeing 737-800 ZK-PBM on approach

A couple of Jetstar Airbus 320s - VH-VQA and VH-VQU

21 June 2013

And here it is in Auckland...

Thanks to Ben Reilly who sent in this pic of Air New Zealand's new Airbus 320 ZK-OXA in Auckland after its arrival from Cairns... Ben writes, Thought  you might appreciate this. Not the best quality unfortunately.  Its being towed from the international terminal to tech ops hangers at the eastern end of the airport. Taken at about 1855 this evening