Flying Over BENIsLAND

P1060507I was invited last week to take a bird’s eye view of Great Barrier Island and of my place, BENIsLAND. As some visitors and most locals know, flying to the Island can be an exciting experience. 

I’m not only talking about the breath taking views on a beautiful day as you fly over the Hauraki Gulf, but also about those very windy days, where it seems as if your heart and stomach change places when the pressure of a gust makes the plane shake and drop. It was one of those days and this plane is considerably smaller and lighter than those Great Barrier Airlines and Fly My Sky use.

After completing a series of pre-flight check-ups, Mateo logged our intentions over the radio and we were gunning down the runway at Claris Airport, and off we were. Quite sideways that is.

We headed north toward Port FitzRoy and as I was told beforehand we were in for a bit of a beating. Nothing drastic, but certainly enough of it that my senses were on high alert.

Port FitzRoy harbour with Kaikoura Island and Little Barrier.
Port FitzRoy harbour with Kaikoura Island and Little Barrier.
Quite straight-forward cockpit and instruments.
Quite straight-forward cockpit and instruments.

We flew over the white cliffs and, wow, we were blown away. Mateo by the size and shape of the cliffs and I by the angle we were flying at. For a brief moment I was asked to take over, which unsurprisingly made me feel more relaxed. It’s bizarre, you’ve got an experienced pilot next to you, but feel, at least for an instance, safer being on the ‘helm’ yourself (it’s a weird, subjective, irrational psychological trust thing, I suppose.)

While Mateo was looking for his lucky hat – for the love of Allah, what do we need a lucky hat for? – I was wondering what happens if I push the ’tiller’ forward. Will the plane descend or ascend? Something everyone can relate to who has played a flight simulator game. (The answer is: it descends.)

We headed south over Blind Bay, Whangaparapara and Puriri Bay.

P1060486P1060489And there it was, BENIsLAND. A remarkable and commanding block in the hills of Tryphena.

benislandWe did a couple of turns at lower altitude over my place but unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well. For the first time in my life, on a plane, I was looking for one of those bags… hehe

Aaah well, we had to turn back and head to the runway. I wish I would have been cool enough to video the landing. The only thing that feels even more uneasy than approaching the tarmac sideways, is when you take off and wonder whether the horizontal speed is high enough to keep the plane in the air as the pilot turns her sideways…

We parked the plane and said our good-byes. Thanks Mateo!,  top fishing and flying, and meeting you. Hope you’ll get another chance to come over, I believe you have unfinished business with a granddaddy Snapper.

A few days ago, in relevant news, I noticed something that I would naively call tornado or twister approaching the Colville Channel.

tornadotornado2And right now, I’m thinking whether I would have been able to land the plane myself. Haha, sitting here on my couch I feel confident as.

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