Wednesday, 27 February 2013


New Zealand man fatally attacked
by shark, police open fire
(Reuters) - A New Zealand man was attacked and killed by a great white shark on Wednesday in a rare fatal shark incident in the country, prompting police to open fire.
Police said they fired shots at the shark after a man was fatally bitten at Muriwai beach located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Auckland, one of many beaches dotted along the North Island's west coast that are known for their wild surf.
Rescue crews were quoted by local media as saying the shark was a "white pointer", commonly known as a great white, measuring roughly 4 meters (13 feet) long. Witnesses said a rescue helicopter also fired shots at the shark . . . .
Full story: Reuters

Peter’s Piece

Shark attacks in New Zealand waters are quite rare.

Previous fatal attacks occurred in 2009 and 1976 while the total recorded since 1837 has been just 14. However, in the last 175 years hundreds of people have disappeared while in the water and an unknown number of those may have been taken by sharks. But even allowing for that unknown number it is safe to say death by shark attack is extremely rare in New Zealand waters.
A Great White shark, or White Pointer

To illustrate this claim we have a saying in New Zealand about sharks: It is not the sharks in the sea that one should worry about, but rather the land sharks (usually meaning real estate sales people).

I’m not sure that shooting sharks is the right approach to this rare problem, although I can understand the pressure that the police must have been under to take quick decisive action.
Quite by chance in 1962 myself and a buddy devised a sure-fire way for moving sharks to deeper water.

We were flying in a Cessna 180 along a coastal area of northern New Zealand when we spotted several large schools of sharks close to the shore.

A 1957 Cessna 180
The Cessna was an agricultural aircraft (or crop-duster in Americanese) and the pilot was accustomed to unusual landing places as part of his everyday work. He elected to land on a beach to warn swimmers that sharks were as close as the third roller out.

But because the swimmers couldn’t see the sharks they didn’t believe us. We tried to explain that from the air we only had to look through less than a metre of water compared with looking through a hundred meters of water, from the water’s edge.

Back in the air again, and flying low, we saw a large shark watching a swimmer from a distance of about 50 meters. As we approached the shark at 130 knots I saw our shadow on the water heading straight for the shark. And the shark saw it too.

It was purely chance that our heading and the angle of the sun lined us up perfectly for a hit with the shadow. But the shark was extremely quick. In a split second it did a 180 degree turn and accelerated to maximum speed, going for the deep water. The speed of the beast was amazing and it covered at least half a mile before it slowed to a more leisurely pace.

We found more sharks, large and small, close to swimmers and gave them the same treatment, and it worked every time. But we never managed to score a direct hit. The fish was always too quick.

Shark infested waters – I use that term reluctantly because it is their environment, not ours – should be patrolled by light aircraft using the shadow technique during the swimming season. But the cost may be prohibitive.

Perhaps there could be a shark patrol manned by suitably-trained amateur pilots donating their flying time to make the sea safer for swimmers.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Ejected from flight for taking a photo
Live and Let’s Fly blogger Matthew Klint has been ejected from a United Airlines flight at Newark International for taking a picture – of his seat – and it wasn’t even an ejector seat.

The 26 year-old who has flown almost a million miles and blogs about flying was stunned when a United Airlines flight attendant screamed at him to stop taking photos on board a United Boeing 767-300 that was ready to depart Newark for Istanbul.

He had just been upgraded to business class and liked the look of flight console and decided to take a shot (sorry, that’s not a good word). He decided to shoot a (oops, wrong word again). He decided to photograph the console for his blog.

Welcome aboard United Airlines  Photo Matthew Klint

That was when his travel plans turned to custard.

The flight attendant called the captain who called the ground services operator who called on the offending passenger to take a hike.

The exit through which illegal photographers are ejected 
Meanwhile, another passenger was taking photos also and an argument broke out between that passenger and the crew member. Matthew Klint believes the wrong passenger may have been forced to leave the flight.

But asking to appeal to the captain brought no relief for Mr Klint. Captain My-way-or-the-driveway was only interested in getting his flight airborne without further delay and threatened to call police if Matthew didn’t take his leave immediately.

Klint was booked on another flight but missed a connecting flight from Istanbul and had to buy another ticket at $225. This was all bad for his travel plans but good news for his blog which has attracted a record number of readers and comments.

Included in the comments are some from fellow passengers who witnessed the United fiasco and agreed with Matthew’s version of events.

When travelling it’s always nice to have skilled, efficient and friendly flight attendants, but fright attendants should look for employment elsewhere.

When I think back on my own travels I recall many times when I have taken photos from my seat. I also recall one United flight in 1989 from Auckland to Honolulu when they didn’t have a seat for me.
The seat shown on my boarding pass was already occupied when I got to it. A quick check showed that the passenger had also been allocated that seat number.

“No problem,” said a flight attendant. “We’ll find another seat for you.”

Meanwhile, the 747 was backed out from the terminal and the engines started while I stood by like a skunk in a perfume factory. Then we were taxiing to the runway and I was asked by another flight attendant to sit down. I showed my boarding pass and explained to situation. She didn’t believe me and took me back to the double allocated seat, realized I was telling the truth and said, “Wait here while we fix this.”

As the aircraft lined up with the runway I was reminded that I was still standing when a commanding voice came on the public address system.

“Would the only standing passenger please sit down immediately!”

Finally, the first flight attendant re-appeared and quickly escorted me to the only empty seat on the aircraft.

She vanished quickly as the engines spooled up and I settled back into the seat with some help from the four big hair dryers under the wings.

I know how you feel, Matthew. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. There is a lot of power in those Boeings, but sometimes there is more power inside the cabin and cockpit than under the wings.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


The world’s most amazing airport – in miniature!

This was sent by Allan Gejdos of Vancouver, BC.
If you think you have seen an unusual hobby, wait until you see this. This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It is a full working miniature airport in the basement of a building in Hambourg. The video is about 15 minutes long but it is well worth watching to the end. It is in HD so make sure you watch it full screen with the sound on.

Virtual airliners, airlines, ground traffic, runways, simulated weather, daylight and dark, this is truly fascinating.

Click here for the airport action:
 Model Airport

 Then read about some old-time flying in 
Murder at Wairere

 Now available as an eBook from:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


We went up the
Auckland Sky Tower

Today Peter and Win visited the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, the iconic Auckland Sky Tower, to take in the panoramic view of Auckland City and to the hills and sea beyond.
The steel, high performance reinforced concrete and glass structure is 328 metres (1,076 feet) high and was completed in 1997 for Harrah’s Sky City Casino. It took 33 months to build, is as tall as 37 buses parked end-to-end, and is the same weight as 6,000 fully grown elephants.
Auckland's Waitemata Harbour from the Sky Tower. The CBD is in the
foreground with Devonport across the harbor  and volcanic
Rangitoto Island on the horizon. 
The breathtaking views are 360 degrees and extend out to 80 kilometres (52 miles) from the hub of New Zealand’s largest city.
The tower was built to house telecommunications and meteorological equipment, three observation decks, two restaurants and a café, and is also used for adventure tourism activities including a Sky Walk and a Sky Jump. The Orbit Revolving Restaurant is 190 metres (623 feet) above ground level and takes one hour to make a complete 360 degree turn.
For Win it was her first visit to the Sky Tower and she was a bit hesitant about the height, even though she loves flying. It was a windy day (20-30 knots at ground level) and the tower could be felt to sway a little several times on the upper levels where the wind would have been stronger.
The tower has been closed only once due to weather-related events and that was for visitor comfort rather than safety. The tower was designed to withstand with only minor damage a wind of up to 200 kilometres an hour (120 mph) or an earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter scale centered 20 kilometres away.
When the tower was being planned in the early nineties there was considerable opposition and protests from Aucklanders. It was claimed that the tower would block out the sun over a wide area. Another objection was based on a belief that the neighborhood would become a slum and a place where crime would flourish.
Win and Peter Blakeborough with view from the Sky Tower
All of those fears turned out to be baseless and the tower is now Auckland’s best tourist asset with 1,500 people visiting the tower every day.
On the upper observation levels, Win had no hesitation in walking on the glass floor panels and looking beneath her feet at the ground a long way below. It was a bit windy for the Sky Walk but on the leeward side the Sky Jump was operating.
Our ticket was for three observation levels, but we got a bit lost and found our way to five levels. Pensioners should always get a discount or a bonus. We got both.
Thank you Sky City Entertainment. You have one of the finest man-made attractions in New Zealand, if not the world.