Jump to content

Australia to New Zealand by Ultralight

Guest DaShadow

Recommended Posts

Guest DaShadow

Received this today, good story and acheivement.


Welcome to Newsletter36 - the latest edition of the Pipistrel aircraft newsletter for November 2006, and what a busy week we have had ! Please excuse the large number of images in this newsletter.


The plan was to establish a new dealer for New Zealand and to fly his aircraft from Australia to New Zealand as part of the delivery process. This sounds very easy when you say it quickly, but in reality this is quite an adventure with nearly 2500 km or 1350 nautical miles of open ocean to be crossed and a mountain of paperwork to be completed before the adventure can begin.


In the past there have been probably three or four ultralight registered aircraft transit the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand but none have been done legaly and it was our intention to have all of the correct paperwork in place before departure. This meant liaising with the New Zealand CAA, Australia's equivalent CASA, customs and quarantine in both Australia and New Zealand and several other government agencies including the tax office etc.



My biggest recommendation to others who want to follow this adventure is to allow plenty of time to prepare all the paperwork, because the transit had not been done legaly before in an ultralight registered aircraft there are a number of issues which needed to be resolved with the different statutory bodies. All I can say is that I'm very appreciative of both Rex Kenny from the New Zealand CAA and Andrew Ward from CASA who both went out of their way to ensure our delivery could be fulfilled on time.


Hopefully now the paperwork and precedent is in place it will make it easier for others to attempt this adventure, however would I recommend anybody else try to cross the Pacific Ocean..... well, read on.


They say that when the weight of the paperwork matches the weight of the aircraft then you are ready to take off......... this may be a true saying in some respects but with a wad of paperwork only about 50 mm or 2 inches thick I thought I was doing quite well. Probably the smallest package of information I had was my flight plan which had a starting point, two way points and my landing destination.


The day before departure our aircraft was reassembled after being in storage are several months and test flown at a local airfield before being flown down to the Gold Coast Airport for refuelling and preparation for the next day's flight. I also visited the customs and quarantine office to get them to check over our paperwork to make sure everything was in order and there would be no delays in getting away first thing in the morning. I was surprised at how smooth the customs process went because everything was pre-organised for me and when customs arrived the next morning it was actually easier than departing on a normal commercial flight.



Refuelling at the Gold Coast Airport just before dark


Departure day arrived after a restless night thinking about all the little things I still had to do and all of the things I'd probably forgotten to do. Arriving at the airport at 5.30 a.m. I untied the aircraft and checked over everything one more time before I was greeted by the customs and quarantine people right on our 6 a.m. meeting time. What I thought would be a long and drawnout process of checking my bags and unpacking the plane was simply a matter of sign here on the bottom of this form and have a good trip, this may have been some omen but the rest of my trip was as simple and a straightforward as this customs process with everybody I met being helpful, on time and most importantly very friendly.


Donning my life jacket and making sure the life raft was in easy reach it was on with the ignition, full choke, throttle off and press the starter, unfortunately the battery would only just turn the engine over because when I looked up I discovered that I had left the second of the three GPS units I had fitted on overnight and the battery had been flattened. It didn't take long to get a jumpstart from the local security personnel and I was off and taxing after clearance.


"You have bigger balls and I do....... Cleared for takeoff, left-hand turn on climb 5500 feet tracking for Lord Howe Island, good luck" were the words from the control tower at Coolangatta airport. With the introduction of throttle my Pipistrel Sinus 912 powered aircraft rolled down the runway and became airborne, a left-hand turn at 500 feet saw me crossing the coast and out over the Pacific Ocean in less than 30 seconds, there was no time for second thoughts because my first landing point, Lord Howe Island is just a speck in the ocean nearly 700 kilometres away.



Australia's most easterly point Cape Byron and the last land I would see for nearly 4 hours


Everything seemed to be going in slow motion as I left the coast. For the first time in many years of flying there was nothing in front of me except open ocean as Cape Byron disappeared out of sight from my right hand door, a lonely cargo ship motored beneath me approximately 5 miles offshore, little did I know at the time, this would be the last boat I would see until arriving into New Zealand. The total sense of being alone is really compounded when the only device you have to keep you company is a little yellow line on the GPS.



Lord Howe Island was my first waypoint and after 3 1/2 hours I could vaguely make out the shape of the island through the cloud and haze ahead, I had all the pleasures and technology of three separate GPS units and I wondered at how some of the early aviation pioneers would ever find these locations because they are simply so small and hard to see in a very large ocean



A very small island in a very large ocean, Lord Howe Island can only just be seen through the haze


and without a GPS to guide me I imagine it would be very easy to miss



Lord Howe Island, notice the runway which is only 800 m long and suffers from


extreme turbulence in windy conditions


Lord Howe Island is a tourist mecca and fantastic fishing location. Even on a short final I could see hundreds of really large fish in the ocean below. The local traffic regulations refer to "Severe turbulence in the area which may prevent a landing on the runway when the wing is 15 knots or stronger. The bureau of meteorology is not able to forecast severe turbulence in all cases and the final responsibility with landing rests with the pilot in command of the aircraft and he must consider the possibility of a diversion to a mainland aerodrome should turbulence preclude a safe approach" pretty strong wording in the aerodrome information pack but fortunately on the day I passed through the wind was only around 8 or 9 kn and I was able to make a safe arrival.



Approach in to Lord Howe Island airstrip



Refuelling at Lord Howe Island and kept company by the locals


As with everywhere I went the locals came out en-masse when I arrived..... people were just so friendly and interested in the Pipistrel aircraft. There were always offers of let me rush you down to the shop and get something to eat or drink, where are you going, we are have you been etc.


They tell me they now only see probably 10 to15 light aircraft through each year, unfortunately the numbers are dwindling whereas 10 years ago it would have been possible to get four or five aircraft each week passing through. None of the people I spoke to are entirely sure why aircraft are not making the crossing between Australia and New Zealand any more but it may be that commercial air flights are so inexpensive that it now probably cost you 10 times as much to fly in your own aircraft than it does to take a commercial flight.


Shortly after refuelling at Lord Howe Island, it was a quick impromptu fly-over for the locals and then back to the GPS heading and another 900 km of open ocean between Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island which was to take me around 4 1/2 at an average speed of 200 kilometres per hour.



Norfolk Island in the distance again only just visible through the haze



Arriving overhead Norfolk Island which has good cross strips and a jet service four times a week


Norfolk Island was originally one of the British penal colonies established for convicts which they never wanted to release again. Located a long way from anywhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean approximately 400 miles from the nearest land there is absolutely no way they would have ever escaped. Today the island survives on tourism with many visitors from both Australia and New Zealand flying in several times a week on jet flights.


When arrivaing into Norfolk Island it is necessary to taxi up to the main terminal building with all of your doors and vents shut in the aircraft, the customs and quarantine official then passes a small canister of fly spray through the door ang you are required to spray inside the cockpit and also in the rear luggage areas and then sit there for approximately 5 minutes. This process was again repeated in New Zealand in an effort to stop the introduction of exotic bugs, pests and diseases. Even though the can of fly spray is approved by the world health organisation and has 'aircraft approved' written on the label you still coughed and spluttered and longed for fresh air while undergoing the longest five minutes in your life.


I remember as a kid arriving back from any overseas trips they used to open the doors of the aircraft to allow two customs officials in who would then proceed to the back of the aircraft and walk forward spraing fly spray over everybody, it was a great introduction to tourists arriving into Australia that the first thing we did to them was spray them and fly spray and then allow them to choke for 5 to 10 minutes. Nowadays the same fly spray is automatically introduced into the aircraft air-conditioning system approximately half an hour out from Australia, it is easy to pick up because everybody starts sneezing and coughing usually around top of descent even though its actually quite difficult to smell.



Norfolk Island fire and rescue service uses three fire trucks built in the 1960s



Refuelling at Norfolk Island with a jet and terminal in the background


Arriving at Norfolk Island in the late afternoon this was to be my overnight destination after a very enjoyable 1000 mile trip in just over eight hours. Again everybody was more than friendly and I had several offers of a lift to my motel accommodation and assistance with tying down etc, both Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Islands are very interesting places and I intend a comeback as a tourist sometime in the future and have a good look around.



Heading to New Zealand, 4450 rpm 105 kn indicated for 111 kn across the ground at 9285 feet


Departing Norfolk Island and heading off to New Zealand, the panel above shows in-flight conditions and the fact that the GPS is probably the most in port and instrument in the aircraft for a flight of this type. The concentration required however is much more than you would normally expect when flying over land, because there are no reference points at all it is simply a matter of following a tiny line on the GPS and every 30 minutes marking off your progress on a map. There is no reference to any land points at all and it is much harder to fly over water than it is to fly over land.



One of the many cloud layers I had to cross


Whilst generally the weather was good for my crossing with light winds which were generally cross winds, there were occasions where large banks of cloud crossed my path, these cloud banks seem to be several hundred kilometres long but only 5 to 10 km wide, I could imagine if you were underneath these it would be very easy to become disorientated because they reflected off the surface of the ocean and actually look like they went from about sea level all the way up to about 6000 feet. Again I thought about our early aviation pioneers and the difficulties they may have had crossing large oceans like the Pacific on just a compass.



The northern tip of New Zealand


After what seemed like forever the northern tip of New Zealand finally came into view on the horizon, it was really interesting to see the cloud formation starting over land as can be seen in the photograph above. New Zealand is commonly known as the land of the long white cloud and nothing could be truer from what I saw on my approach into New Zealand. I could actually see the cumulas clouds building up over land well before I could see the land itself. Interestingly I could hear traffic in circuit at Kerikeri airport over 150 miles out from the destination and was able to transmit to them over VHF radio advising them of my arrival in 1 hour and 30 minutes, the actual lack of VHF transmissions throughout the trip showed just how far from civilisation I had travelled during the crossing. When near the coast of Australia transmissions could be heard on several frequencies every minute or so as I got further from the coast transmissions dropped off until eventually at around 350 miles there was just silence on the radio. I knew there was jet traffic travelling overhead between Australia and New Zealand and i always had the comfort of knowing if something went wrong that I could probably raise one of the jets on the emergency frequency 121.5



Arrival at Kerikeri Airport New Zealand


Arriving at Kerikeri airport New Zealand I was surprised at the amount of people there. It wasn't until I underwent the compulsory fly spray routine again and was allowed out of the aircraft but I found out they were actually holding an open day at the airport to try and encourage new people to become involved in flying. It was good that I arrived around lunchtime when the crowd was at its biggest because it proved that even a light aircraft like the Pipistrel Sinus was more than capable of cross continental journeys as was shown not only by my trip but also by Matez Lenarcic who flew the Pipistrel aircraft around the world some 18 months ago.


Customs and quarantine procedures again went like clockwork and with the necessary paperwork and documentation done I was a free man allowed to wander around the New Zealand countryside.


Overall, it was a great sense of personal achievement to actually do a flight that not too many had done before me, I guess it was probably the same sort of feeling that people had when they summited Everest or acheived some other lifetime goal, the difference with my trip was it required no physical exertion, it was easy just to sit in the comfortable cockpit of the Pipistrel and all I had to do was to keep the nose pointed in the right direction and mark off the miles on my maps.


The next two days were spent in New Zealand giving our dealer Mr Alan Clarke a thorough overview of the aircraft, with 8000 plus hours as an ag pilot and many hours in helicopters it didn't take him too long to feel comfortable in the aircraft.


The contact details for Alan are below and I encourage any of our New Zealand customers to make contact with him in the coming weeks to organise a test flight and evaluation of the Pipistrel Sinus aircraft which has again proven itself on the world stage.



A Very happy customer and dealer Alan Clarke


finally with his new plane


Now the big question....... With all that ocean and so few opportunities to land if something goes wrong would I ever do the flight again ? This is a question that went through my mind several times on the trip over, whilst I was in the aircraft the answer was a definite NO... it's probably pushing luck a little bit too far.


Now I have returned however the pressures and dangers have now long left my mind and it probably seems a good idea to attempt the trip again but this time fly direct between Australia and New Zealand without landing, now that would be an adventure.


Total distance travelled, 2452.5 km, total flying time 12:47:23, average fuel consumption in 11.2 lp/h


Take care.... Michael Coates



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Top marks to Micheal for his aviation spirit and a full applause for his success but I gotta agree with ATC Coolangatta about the carat count of his jewellery! Thanks for a great write up of the crossing.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mcoates

Hello all... i have just been directed here to sign up and answer questions.... most fuel used was only 46 liters on one leg, the other top up was less, so fuel is not a real problem for most planes. To give you an idea the plane holds 100 liters, the last leg from Norfolk Island to Kerikeri in New Zealand was 4 1/2 hours,


when I arrived in New Zealand we did another 4 1/2 hours of circuit training with the new owner and then pull the plane apart because he was going away for a week, we still managed to drain 16 liters from the fuel tanks, so the potential was there for around the 11 hours cruising out of the 100 liters on board. This is probably the only factory built ultralight aircraft that could fly to New Zealand and on to Antarctica on the standard tanks. Remember one flew completely around the world 18 months ago with a long-range tanks which held around 200 liters which in real terms is at least 20 hours in the air. Much too long from me I am afraid, about six or seven pulls me up nowadays. It was a great adventure and something I really enjoyed and based on the amount of feedback coming from pilots all around the world it seems that many people dream and aspire to doing something like this. All I can say is, it is really not that hard and with a reliable aircraft anybody can also do it. Enjoy and speak to you all again soon. Kind regards Michael Coates



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will be buying a savannah as soon as possible, would such an aircraft be capable of the same trip you have done? with a cruise of 85 to 90 kts, it would take a while. the quoted range is 800Km, so with the other front seat full of extra fuel, im sure its quite capable with enough range for a return trip to the mainland if a diversion is required.


my past as a professional driver has conditioned me to sit at the wheel/controls for up to 10 hrs without dramas, as long as there is a relief tube ill be fine...


Do you think a Savannah would be a good choice for such a trip?


oh and a final Question,


how much was the weather a factor in the planning of the trip? did you time the departure to co-incide with a passing weather system to improve ground speeds and range?





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest AusDarren

Ya know.. with somthing like a J160..


a trip like this is possiable..


and have enough fuel on board to divert, should the approach at lord howe be too hairy..


It is very inspirational..


Just never forget that EPIRB.. Just ask Ray Clambeck about how important it is.


I wonder if Ray gives a discount for ferrying seaplanes?006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michael,


This is really the stuff of dreams, dare I say the right stuff!


Yet while taking nothing away from the achievement I was immediately reminded of Sir Francis Chichester who well before he got into sailing made a similar crossing East to west from Auckland NZ to Jarvis Bay NSW Aust: in 1931.in a Gypsy Moth, although I think he fitted floats. No GPS, no Navaids. I believe he used a sextant and dead reconning to navigate. I strongly recommend his book "The lonley sea and the Sky"


I'm not raining on your parade, you display the the stuff of heros, we shouldall be so valiant.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a great article by Michael ......... but to be fair it should bepointed outthat a number of these cross-Tasman trips have been made in ultralights, often without too much hoopla.


And I am very surprised at Michael's contention that all of them were done illegally.


One particular worthy effort of which I have some personal knowledge was by Logan McLean when he flew a Pioneer 300, power by a 3300 Jabiru, over from NZ for Wing Over Wagga in late Oct 2005, and then did the return journey in the same aircraft a couple of weeks later after flyingaround the 3 eastern states and giving demo's in that aircraft all weekend at WOW and elsewhere.


I consider Logan'sboth-ways journey to be particularly worthy.


I also understand that someone has flown from their south Island to ours without a stop, also in Oct 2005. Does anyone know anything about that?


Regards Geoff Captain



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mcoates

| Hello Geoff, the article is just a regular part of our website and was


| reposted on recreational flying by somebody else.




| We are not trying to make a big thing out of it but I can tell you that


| _nobody _has flown from Australia to New Zealand in Australian


| registered ultralight before without actually breaking the law.




| CASA have advise me of this because it took quite a bit of effort for


| them to get legal advice on what concessions they had to make in 95.55


| to allow this attempt to happen. There is a guy called Ben Buckley who


| fuelled up his 582 powered light wing and flew across... depending on


| who you listen to he has become a bit of a legend and some people say


| that he spent three weeks in a New Zealand prison for turning up


| completely unannounced with no customs formalities completed, no


| quarantine inspection on arrival and not even a passport in his


| possession. There are so many rumors and unsubstantiated stories about


| this crossing it is hard to work out what is actually true, all I know


| about it is the gentleman is a AG pilot from I believe Port Maquarie ??




| Logan Maclean needs to be congratulated on his crossing which I believe


| was reported fairly widely in the magazines but I have gauged from some


| of the talk from officialdom about his trip that it wasn't entirely


| legal in every respect and he is still answering a few questions to the


| authorities.




| Enough said, by doing this trip we have proven two things, one, even in


| an ultralight or microlight registered aircraft it is still possible to


| do trips between countries and two, there seems to be still a passion


| for adventure and people who like to share in these experiences even if


| they own aircraft that they cannot use for this type of trip. It's all


| about promoting the enthusiasm and sheer joy of flying and hopefully


| newsletters like this can go some way into keeping people interested in


| our sport. We have about 8500 people who have subscribed to our


| newsletters, the large majority of these being overseas and the amount


| of feedback we get from pilots who are lucky to do 20 or 30 hours a year


| because of the conditions where they live or the fact I don't have the


| monetary resources or the fact that is actually illegal to fly light


| aircraft in their country is very rewarding and humbling. kind regards


| Michael Coates X-Air Australia</PRE>



Link to comment
Share on other sites

G'day Michael


I have checked with Logan in NZ over the weekend and he advises that it is news to him if his 2 way crossing wasn't legal.


He says that he had approvals before the flights from CAA NZ, CASA & RAA OZ, plus I'm aware that he went through the Customs etcprocedures when he arrived. He advises that3 months of effort went into obtaining all of those approvals.


I don't want to denigrate anybody's efforts on trans Tasman crossings as they are all a lot more than I'll ever achieve .... but I do think that Logan's effort ( and that of the Alpi Pioneer 300 & 3300 Jabiru) needs to becorrectly acknowledged ifthe aboveis correct.


Regards Geoff





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mcoates

Re Logan's 'problems' All i can say is to ask Rex Kenny the head person from the sport and rec in the New Zealand CAA, he was the one who told me there were a few problems. I imagine these may be confidential but your welcome to dig if thats what you want to do, personally i would let the matter rest and applaude Logans acheivements, i do because there are only three people who know what the trip is like in a UL.... I would like to find out more about this Ben Buckley legend though.


Please read the report again... It hasnt been done legally in an Australian registered UL before, i imaging Logan's was NZ registered aircraft.


Thanks Michael



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mcoates

Hello all, i have just spoken at length to Logan on the phone and his crossing was legal but it was a NZ registered plane, where he got into trouble was flying a VH plane when he got here because he didnt have the proper AU licence but he was ok to fly his own NZ plane in AU.


Now there are 4 people to do the crossing, 2 from NZ and 2 from AU, the only one was illegal was Ben Buckley in a 2 STROKE Lightwing from Tasmania to NZ south island which took 12 hours non stop !! Now thats an adventure !!


As i said previous... go and read the original article.... It says AU registered UL and Logan is as proud of his crossing as i am !!. To quote Logan..... "The plane doesnt know its flying over water" How true !


Thanks Michael



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Michael


That is now clear and you are all to be congratulated on the feat of crossing the ditch.


And your original article does indeed say 1st Skippy Ultralight.


Now .... Ian .... can we both now stop being careful, and let it all hang out?


I too would love to know more details ofBen's 12 hr non-stop flight, be itlegal or illegal.


Regards Geoff Captain



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now .... Ian .... can we both now stop being careful, and let it all hang out?

Regards Geoff

- Capt, you can always let it all hang out (but pictures of "letting it all hang out" is not allowed - we might get jealous).Just trying help in making sure that no one takes things the wrong way and gets offended



  • Informative 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please read the report again... It hasnt been done legally in an Australian registered UL before, i imaging Logan's was NZ registered aircraft.



Your flight is commendable though your claim of being an Australian registered aircraft is misleading because it was in fact a NZ registered aircraft that you flew - ZK-GPI!


According to the NZ aircraft register, the Sinus was registered with NZ on the 10th Nov.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oooooooo - errrrrrr.


That puts a new complexion on things and I assume that also means that there is a record to be had.


Fuel 'em up boys, fuel 'em up.


If we drink enough cheap wine tonight we'll get some little silver fuel bladders to velco into the right hand seat .... and enough dutch courage to make the crossing.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was talking to Bruce Stark a while back and he mentioned that 2 Tecnams have been flown from NZ across the islands to Aust.


Hopefully one day I might get up the courage and fly across to Tas - flying to or from NZ....well, that is another story



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Ian,


Gwen's often said we should visit the land of the "land white cloud" and that while there we ought to make the effort to take in some aerial sight seeing.


Now here's an idea, why don't you and I get together and fly our CTs in formation to NZ while the wivestake aQF (or whatever's cheaper). You can carry the life rafts and to be fair with the loadings I'll carry the extra fuel. Here's another thought,one of uscould first buzz up to Goulburn, collect the "Come And Get It Trophy" take it over to NZ and the other bring it back. Now that would be one for the records.


And ... we're both Oz reg'd.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...