“Captain Dave is bringing the plane in from Picton and should land in the next few minutes. It’s a bit windy up there so it will be up to Dave whether the winds over the sounds are OK to land in Picton or maybe Blenheim… I cant really say, he’s the one in charge of the plane…up there”
I had this huge smile on my face. I don’t think I had been so excited about taking to the air for a long time (OK no Jokes please we all know I get excited at the mere thought of a flight). But this was going to be the smallest commercial aircraft I had ever flown in and it was going to be a flight over a very scenic area of the beautiful country of New Zealand.
Bonus – read to the end for a short film of the flight!
I’d arrived about 1 hour prior to departure at the check in area located at gate 4 of Wellington Airport and the preceding comment was what the friendly and polite lady at check in advised me. She asked if I had luggage, I didn’t except for my backpack which was weighed at 5.7kgs. There were no boarding passes for this flight and only 3 of us heading to Picton this morning. The check-in lady announced at right on 9:45am that the flight was ready for boarding and all three of us we trotted out to the awaiting aircraft. I asked if I could take pictures of the plane – “Of course!” she stated, although I was a little camera use shy with the other two fellows looking at me like some AvGeek nerd.
There are over 2000 Cessna 208 Caravans currently in service around the world proving these single engined high winged aircraft are popular. SoundsAir operate four of the aircraft which fly from New Zealands capital Wellington and Picton, Blenheim, Nelson and Wanganui.
All 3 of us boarded and the fellow behind me, who sat in the last row, was asked to lock the door. Captan Dave boarded the aircraft up the front and turned to us to welcome us on board, point out the safety features, such as where the exits were and how to do up the lap and torso sash. He told us the wind were pretty strong over the sounds but he would keep the aircraft high to avoid strong turbulence when we came into landing at Picton. I quickly studied the safety card and with a flick of a few switches, Captain Dave had the aircraft moving towards Wellington airports runway.
It was a very short taxi to the runway and after turning to the north, Captain Dave pushed the throttle forward and we were bouncing down the runway.
An even shorter take off roll had us in the air about 30 seconds after hitting the throttle. We climbed pretty quickly over Evans Bay and Wellington Harbour with only a few bumps of turbulence.
As we climbed to our cruising altitude of 4,000ft, Captain Dave took a left turn over the City of Wellington which looked quite impressive on this clear day.
After leaving the scenic city behind we flew over Project West Wind which has an impressive 62 turbines providing energy to the national power grid.
It was not long before we were over Cook Strait, the body of water that separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand. I was surprised as how close they actually were, well from the air anyway.
Pretty soon we were flying over the Marlborough Sounds in the north of the South Island and it was stunning. The green wooded hills rising out of the blue ocean were made even more simply beautiful by flying in this graceful little plane at a mere 4000ft.
As Captain Dave had mentioned earlier, he kept the aircraft at a higher altitude due to the winds and when it was time to prepare for landing reminded us to have the torso sash tight in case we hit an air pocket. The angle of descent was pretty amazing before Captain Dave did a U turn and lined the aircraft with the runway at Pictons Aerodrome and brought it in for a smooth landing.
As I disembarked the aircraft, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. For an extra $7 added to my airfare, one of the staff members drove me from the aerodrome into the centre of Picton town where I wandered around with that huge smile. Thanks Captain Dave and Soundsair!
Bonus – Check out the short film of the flight!
FreakyFlier paid for the flight independently