The other guys got away at 4pm and flew high, hoping to reach the east coast about Oamaru. Unfortunately they had to go inland because of complete cloud cover along the coastal hills. I left about 15 minutes later, so played 'catch-up' for a long time as we tracked along the Rock + Pillar Range, past Danseys Pass to Lake Aviemore. From there, up the Hakataramea Valley and over to Fairlie where we found a way to get down below the cloudbase. After landing at Rangitata Island to stretch our legs, it was on across the Canterbury Plains at 1200 feet. The sun was annoyingly low as we joined downwind at my old home town. A satisfying feeling to have flown my own aircraft into the Rangiora Airfield where I had my first ever flying lesson at age 16 years.
Dave Mitchell, one of the instructors, and his wife Yvonne, did an amazing job of feeding us. The clubhouse has great facilities, including bunk beds, shower and internet. Well done to the Canterbury Recreational Aircraft Club (CRAC).
Today we woke early to thick fog, so the other guys who were continuing north to the RAANZ Fly-In at Waipukurau didn't get away until 10:00am. After lunch I flew to Ashburton Airport in a bumpy NE wind. After there I was able to climb to 8,500 feet for a smooth ride south. A couple of times I found myself in wave lift. In spite of pointing the nose way down and throttling back, I was still being pushed strongly up above my cruise altitude. Being careful to descend below the Invercargill airspace 'steps', I arrived back at the Oporo Flat farm to a steady N wind.
The GP One is surprisingly comfortable for these long trips, but being optimised as a training aircraft it only has limited storage space (until after the upgraded baggage compartment is fitted).
It used 83 litres for 6.3 hours in the air = 13.2 litres/hour at 100 knots cruise. Much better economy than the Tecnam Eaglet or the Rans S6, and significantly faster than the Rans. Nice.