In part 1 we looked at the airline, the aircraft and the setup for the flight. So with that out of the way part 2 takes us into the cockpit and along for the ride, operating the scheduled service to Whanganui from Auckland and back again. Fasten your seat belts and keep tray tables in an upright position for a look at flying the Convair 580. If you want yourself to get a chance to fly the 580 with Air Chathams time is limited. Get down to New Zealand before it's too late!
Directly to my right was however the aircraft's individual production plate noting she has the line number 381 and was completed on November 19, 1956 in San Diego.
Since the aircraft dates originally from the 1950s the cockpit is full of knobs and switches with a few digital elements shoehorned in - mainly GPS and TCAS. Below gives a general overview of the cockpit of CV-580. Apparently none of the company's 580s are the same:
I guess for non-NZ readers I should mention where we were going. Whanganui is one of the many provincial 'cities' of New Zealand. As both a 'whinging Pom' and a 'Jafa' (that's Just Another F*cking Aucklander to you non kiwis) I guess I should watch what I say about the provinces. Anyway Whanganui has a population of about 44,000 so it's not a big place, more a town than city, but having visited myself before it's pleasant enough, especially if you like mucking about on rivers. It's nearly 6 hrs by car but about an hour by Convair.
Flying the Convair appeared to keep the pilots busy especially attending to the checklists but pretty soon we were descending to our destination. The flight was very smooth except for a couple of small bumps as we approached WAG.
The below series shows the descent and landing:
Nowadays Air Chathams provides the only scheduled services to Whanganui in the form of a three times daily connection to Auckland. There is however the charter operator Air Whanganui and a flight school based at the field.
Pleasingly there wasn't a single security official to be seen and I was escorted around the outside of ZK-CIF by the friendly gate agent.
Thanks again to all at Air Chathams who made this adventure a possibility for me.