Relaxed now, I marveled at how rapidly the scenery changed. Snow cloaked mountains and ridges, rapidly disappeared behind with every northbound mile. The bush-clad west coast turned our vista green.
No wonder guests came back from this area wide-eyed and shaking their heads in disbelief. A day like today dramatizes the effect of Mt Cook rising to over 12,000' from the Tasman Sea, a mere 20 nm away.
The dense bush-clad landscape opened onto green valley floors where active farming communities dwelled. Annual rainfall here was at least 5 times that of Geordie Hill, and farmers used a technique known as humping and hollowing, to allow for adequate drying and drainage of the land. Their sculptured fields contrasted the ruggedness of this region.
NATIVE BUSH BOUNDARIES VALLEY FLOORS
Our view from above stretched on as far as the eye could see. With not one cloud or breath of wind, we smoothly descended northward. The radio remained quiet until nearer Motueka - our destination. Student pilots practicing circuits and one inbound from a cross-country caught my full attention.
"Where was he calling from?" I checked with Matt, who could easily explain. Phew!
Outside controlled airspace, New Zealand VFR navigation procedures rely on general broadcasts, on channel 119.1 or the designated frequency for that area. Positional reporting often refers to a nearby 'Visual Reporting Point', which are marked on aviation maps. The radio call gives aircraft relative position to a VRP, height, and track from there. Unless you know an area well, the location of these points can be as confusing as trying to decipher an unfamiliar name.
I had been to Motueka airfield before, and knew the area basically. However Motueka's flight-training radio calls, along with Nelson Airport Controlled Airspace nearby, were an immediate reminder that I was not fully prepared. Damn. I actually like to get these things right.
In the busy time leading up to our departure, I had not made time to thoroughly revise the map. It was hard to fit everything in - right? While I was grateful for Matt's experience and knowledge, I found my lack of the same frustrating. This fact was repeated during the remainder of our vacation. Our days were full, and my flight planning leaned heavily on Matt's knowledge.
So two more good things were learned today:
- Matt's relaxed confidence in understanding radio calls, and position of other aircraft relative to us, made the busier part of this flight much easier to negotiate. I realised this is exactly what each and every one of our guests enjoyed.
- While I was on vacation with 'my Flyinn Guide', I would cut myself some slack regarding full preparation for each flight. But firmly resolved to always make adequate time for my own revision in future.
We bedded WAX down for the night, and went in search of our favourite Moteliers, Alan and Lisa of Equestrian Lodge. They had faithfully looked after Flyinn Guests for over 13 years in their beautiful garden haven close to town. Once there we could walk to our choice of restaurants for dinner. How lovely.