07 October 2022

Sounds Air Flight S8 900 to Wellington


Part 2 of Liam Fullerton's trip to Westport

ZK-PLV had operated the second and last flight into Westport the night before, and had overnighted in Buller. The only flight on a Saturday out of Westport departs at 7.10am. So it was an earlyish departure from the Motel, for the quick drive out to the Airport at Carters Beach. Another stellar morning with the Sun just starting to rise over the Ranges. 

A busy flight this morning, with a full complement of 9 passengers on-board the Pilatus PC12. The awesome Ground Staffer Ralph had us all checked in quickly. Ground Ops for Sounds Air here at Westport, are handled by the Buller District Council. 

Soon enough Ralph announced it was time to board, and we headed out to the waiting PC12

Sun rises over the Westport Airport tarmac

Taxiing Out for a Departure on Runway 22

Directly after Take-off a steep right hand turn to loop around and head Northeast. Buller River Mouth and Tip head to the top right of photo

Climbing past the airport

Buller River Mouth with Westport Airport to the Right Hand Side

Westport waking up to a beautiful Saturday morning

A Grainy, Close Up shot of the Denniston Plateau. One may be able to make out the very top of the Denniston Incline in the very centre of the photo. The Waimangaroa River Gorge to the left. 

More Fog around Murchison

Back past St Arnaud and the Nelson Lakes

Extremely Cloudy as we flew directly overhead Woodbourne on our descent into Wellington. 

Over the Cook Strait, with Cape Palliser far off in the distance.

An approach I have never had before in all my years flying into WLG. An extremely short finals for Runway 34 with a very sharp left turn and landing. Sneaking in before a Company Caravan, which landed immediately after we vacated the Runway. 

Vacating Runway 34 at Wellington. 

Sounds Air are a fantastic operator who have done really well to grow the Westport service into a reliable and affordable one. Just like the likes of Air Chathams, they seem to care deeply about the Communities they serve, and in turn, those communities are pretty proud of their airline. Unfortunately, at the moment, it sounds like Sounds Air are having some Fleet Maintenance or something going on, which has made for a weird schedule in and out of Westport currently. Has made for some fairly interesting arrival and departure times as they readjust timetables to make everything fit. One flight arrives well after 8pm! There are a few complaints from the locals it seems, as the schedule seems to be changing quite a bit. But I'm sure Sounds Air will be hoping to have a solid Schedule, just as soon as it can. 

The PC12 seems to be the perfect machine for Buller, with its high service ceiling, pressurized cabin and fairly brisk cruising speed (faster than a Caravan that's for sure!). However only 4 passengers on the flight to Westport, only 1 of two flights on a Friday, cannot be making money. Whereas the only flight on a Saturday was completely full. There was at least four people in the terminal dropping others off, lamenting on the fact that the flight was sold out and they could not get a seat until Monday, with the Sunday flight also sold out. These people were now driving to Nelson to catch a flight to Wellington from there. Apparently, weekend flights to and from Buller are popular, and Westport could benefit from either at least another flight, or a slightly bigger aircraft. It's a tricky one for sure, but well done Sounds Air on many years of excellent, safe, and reliable service for the residents and visitors of Buller. I have done 10 flights on Sounds Air in the last 2 months, and not one has been cancelled or late. The Team are extremely friendly and professional. Keep up the good work! 

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