Flying in vintage aircraft with the RockStar live aircraft tracking in New Zealand.
Something a bit different this week as one of the G-Layer RockStar aircraft trackers comes for a ride on a classic warbird over the beautiful Southern Alps of New Zealand. I’m over in Wanaka for the biennial Warbirds show, and of course a RockStar tracker always travels with me, this time performing as a live aircraft tracker in a vintage warbird.
Most small aircraft operators are understandably interested in live tracking for their machines, more than just an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) and over here in NZ I’ve had the chance to talk to many private aircraft owners and operators about this is a hot topic. It doesn’t matter if they fly the latest light sport aircraft or a true classic warbird, they all agree how essential it is to have someone know where they are at all times in the air.
I’ve talked before about how behind the times live aircraft tracking is, and how the RockStar aircraft tracking system changes all that so easily and affordably. The back country pilots of NZ are most receptive to the benefits of the RockStar system.
While at the warbirds show in Wanaka I also had a chance to go for spin in a real vintage warbird, a 1930s Waco YMF5 – in fact this one:
A bit of background on the beautiful Waco YMF5. Waco was the most prolific producer of aircraft globally between the two world wars and the YMF5 is their renowned barnstorming bi-plane. Well known for their ruggedness and reliability (sound familiar… just like our RockStars) and also their smooth flying characteristics. They have a very stylish look too with the leather lined open cockpit and radial engine swinging a huge wooden prop.
This Waco YMF5 in particular was formerly owned by Arthur (Art) Annecharico, an Emmy award winning movie producer and warbird enthusiast. Art kept the machine in absolutely pristine flying condition and it was sold to an NZ buyer only last year.
The Waco biplane is now operated by Classic Flights NZ and piloted by Peter Henriks. Peter took me for an incredible flight around the southern lakes and mountains, and with me in my flight suit was the trusty RockStar tracker.
The tail-dragger configuration makes for a challenging taxi as you cant see anything in front of you past that big radial, so S-turns are required on the ground but once airborne, this beautiful beast just feels solid and steady in the air. The RockStar sat happily up front with me on the flight confidently tracking and recording our position, course, speed and altitude in real time.
I can easily say there is no more spectacular place in the world to fly an open cockpit aircraft than the south island of New Zealand, but if a machine ever goes down, the dramatic nature of the landscape makes for a very challenging forced landing. It’s just simple peace of mind for owners and operators of these classic machines to know someone is looking out for them, thanks to the RockStar live aircraft tracking system.
Thanks to Peter and ClassicFlights for the trip of a lifetime. truly a flight I wont ever forget. Below are some pics and the track log from the flight, and a short and shaky video from the cockpit.
Live Aircraft Tracking with RockStar