01 June 2014

Kia Orana - Welcome aboard this Air Rarotonga flight 618 to Aitutaki...

While visiting Rarotonga I took the opportunity to meet Ewan Smith, founder of Air Rarotonga, to do a little research on Air Rarotonga. Not only was he most generous in his time but he also arranged a flight to Aitutaki on the flight deck of Air Rarotonga's Saab 340 E5-EFS. This is my record of the flight 618 up to Aitutaki and 619 back to Rarotonga on the 23rd of May 2014.

On the flight deck today is Captain Ianis Boaza... 
...and First Officer Eddie Tuaati
while looking after your inflight passenger safety and comfort is Tevai Napa
Today we are flying in Saab 340 E5-EFS
The front office of the Saab 340
All ticketed so...
thumbs up - good to go...
Lining up Runway 26
Right turn after take off to intercept the 347 radial for Aitutaki 142 nautical miles north
Cruise was at 12,000 feet before the descent into Aitutaki - the first glimpse
The islands starts to take shape with the different little islands within the lagoon. Aitutaki has 3 volcanically formed islands and 12 coral motu (islets).

The islands from bottom to top... Motukito, Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), Tekopua, Muritapua and Akaiami

In 1951 the predecessor to Air New Zealand, Tasman Empire Airlines or TEAL as it was known, introduced the Coral route. Solent flying boats flew from Auckland's Waitemata Harbour across to Fiji, Samoa, Aitutaki and Tahiti. The TEAL's 'airport' at Aitutaki was on Akaiami. About a third of the way along the bay from the right you can see a brown smudge where the causeway was for the flying boat passengers... check out http://vimeo.com/60697188 and you will see what I mean. The flying boat service ended in 1960. Today the Air Rarotonga service to Aitutaki is its successor.

With a surface wind at 170 degrees at 10 knots we join downwind for Runway 14
Looking over towards the more volcanic part of Aitutaki as we come up to the southern end of the runway (on the right)
The Aitutaki airfield was built for the Americans at the end of World War II - the cross runway is closed 
The weather wasn't the best... cloud with some passing showers but nonetheless fascinating... I was really surprised to see the raised land

Echo Foxtrot Sierra finals Runway 14 - Air Rarotonga uses registrations for callsigns rather than flight numbers...

This was the third trip to to Aitutaki for Saab 340 E5-EFS... at peak times the Saab will do five trips
Aituaki terminal....

...and emergency services

Lining up again on Runway 14 for the flight south
Some last glimpses of the lagoon

Somewhere through there is Rarotonga - cleared from non standard Flight Level 120 to 1500 feet
and there is Rarotonga

Joining left base for 08

The domestic terminal and international check-in 
An Air Rarotonga publicity shot of Aitutaki... Air Rarotonga offer up to five flights a day with a same day return and tour of the island. Well worth doing

My thanks to Ewan and the crew of GZ618/619 for making this a wonderful day. 
Next weekend I will post a profile on Air Rarotonga

If you are planning a trip to the Cook Islands look up more on options for including Aitutaki in your itinerary on the Air Rarotonga website... http://www.airraro.com/

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