NZFF Member -Sonnyj - featured September 2021

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NZFF Member -Sonnyj - featured September 2021

Postby Sonnyj » Fri Oct 08, 2021 4:29 pm

I missed uploading my aviation bio last month, but here it is. :-)

Hi, Sonnyj here ... Les & Sue and 3 kids (all 3 left the nest). We are living in Te Aroha, New Zealand. Retired, but still working on life!

I spent schoolboy time building balsa models, dope and rubber bands; plastic Airfix models, glue and paint - sometimes a sticky mess. Made lots and lots of kites, boomerangs and the like. At school, spent most of my time looking out of the window.

Dad was a mad keen fisherman and built many kites to take the lines out. He made a box kite once that managed to lift me off the ground (of course, I was skinny back then). I remember once we were fishing his kite rig at the Waikanae Beach in Gisborne one day and were approached by a policeman. Ahem ... let me explain. Dad had two nylon lines, one for the batch of hooks, baits & sinker 100lb breaking strain, and another line about 1,000 yards long attached to the kite. Once the bait line was at maximum distance the release took place and the kite would shoot up towards the heavens. Us kids got to wind it back in. Apparently, the police had been contacted by the Gisborne tower. The kites were so high they were a danger to aircraft lining up for landing at Gisborne aerodrome. Bit of a non-no!

I’d been around airplanes before, had a school trip in a DC3 local flight in and around Gisborne. Looking back I guess the teacher was an aviation nut. As a family on Sunday afternoons we used to 'go for a drive' often ending up at the airport to watch the planes. Then there was the crop dusters that flew over our house in the country with super phosphate deliveries to the local farms. Beavers, Lockheed Lodestars mostly, a few Tiger Moths earlier, prior to that I often looked skywards to whatever was happening up there.

Later on in life we (the family) moved to Opotiki. One day I was hanging around the Opotiki airfield taking some phots of a Fletcher using the airfield as a loading airstrip. Taking off and landing, taking off and landing. Then he came in after dropping his last lot of fertilizer, taxied up to where I was and beckoned me over, told me to hop up on the wing, He then opened the canopy and pointed to me and then the jump seat.

Oh boy. That started a new track on my life. We flew a few ‘dummy top dressing runs, complete with dumbbell turns etc. Need I say more? Next weekend I was again at the Opotiki airfield (funny that) and there was some flight training going on. A little Cessna 152 ZK-EJW was in use. (now at the bottom of the sea near Kapiti Island I believe) After a wee chat with the instructor I signed up for PPL training. Had some real lessons and did a lot of swotting. Went to Rotorua on 11th December 1978 , sat the PPL exam and passed all subjects with an “A”, then learned to fly with the Aeroclub 152 and a bit of time in C-172 ZK-DEY & a couple of other 172s.

As it turned out ‘Delta Echo Yankee’ was in need of a makeover. My brother and I were running a house painting business at the time and thought, "it can’t be that hard to paint a plane", after all we had painted cars and boats before. So we embarked on a the task for the aero club. Once painted, we flew ‘Delta Echo Yankee’ around north island major aerodromes at the time. Drumming up business for our newly opened operation – “Emms Aviation Resprays”. Operating from the main hangar at Whakatane airfield. Had dealings with quite a few aircraft, some for Dennis Thompson who sent us all planes that needed some touch up & detailing. Got to fly some pick up and deliver trips, Volcanic Wunder flights at Rotorua for example. Good times. Settled in, made the house move to Whakatane to be closer to the work hangar.

Along came the new Zealand economic crash of '85-89' and aeroclubs and private owners were having a hard time, money became a bit scarce. The respray business was shut down. I had by now studied and passed my CPL theory, but with the business being shut down and the arrival of kids I was unable to justify getting enough flight hours to continue with CPL progress.

I carried on flying with my PPL. Started up a trader magazine for aviation buffs and businesses. Named it “Get Flying Trader Magazine”. Free advertising and view results by a 12 month subscription. Ran it all by fax and posted A5 booklet with ads once a month to subscribers. Pardon the pun but it never really got off the ground. Internet invaded my business. LOL. Threw my hands in the air and carried on living.

Spent some time working as an unqualified L.A.M.E. in a Tauranga aircraft maintenance workshop (with supervision of course). Nice to get hands-on and hands-in experience. Gave me a finer understanding of what the rattles and other noises were when flying around.

Then, after many years in the financial industry, I sold my brokerage business and retired - all the time looking skyward and continued with some occasional PPL flying. I had started simulated flying with a Commodore 64 and a Spitfire with a simple joystick control. Been simming ever since.

A few years back I had desktop sim looking to upgrade and I spotted in trade me magazine a more immersive solution. I then purchased an "AST 300" cockpit from a simmer in Palmerston North. It had been used by Massey University Aviation I understand. Anyway I hired a covered trailer and drove all night there and back early morning to Te Aoha. Disassembled and rebuilt, rewired, and recomputed it. 3 screens with a plan to do 2 more monitors for 90 and 180 degree views. Great learning experience, I might add. Located it in a spare room in the house. Sold the house to downsized. The ‘cockpit’ is in the garage in pieces until I find the time and space to re assemble it with some more upgrades. I plan to make it resemble a Piper Aerostar, fastest twin piston and such a great sound. It is a pity that MSFS as yet does not cater for multiple screens/windows. But by the time I am ready to restart the project, MSFS may be ready for me. LOL.

After looking over my records, I have done a list of aircraft I was involved with personally, either repainted, or touched up or re furbished or worked on or flown.

C172 -- DEY
C172 -- EJQ
C172 -- EHJ
Beech A36 -- DUL
C172 -- LCL
C172 -- BWZ
PLZ-Puchucz -- GEO
PZ -- PZ
C152 -- TAC
C152 -- TAA
C152 -- TAY
C172 -- TAB
PA28 -- EQE
C172 -- MAT
C150 -- TAE
AC690b -- PVB
Partanavia -- LAL
C172B -- BYG
PA28-180 -- DGG
Piper Navajo -- DCE
Aero Commander -- N3937X
Cessna 320 -- EGN
RobinsonR44 II -- HLE
Piper-32-260 -- ERN
C210L Centurion -- DRI
Commander 500-s -- PAT
Piper PA 23-250 -- ERM
C172 -- EHL
Piper 28-140 -- DEZ
Beech Baron BE58 -- EJJ
Grumman A5 -- DLG
Piper 28-235 -- CEH
Piper PA 28 180 -- DLN
C172M -- DKF
C172M -- DHS
C207 -- DAX
Piper PA 30 260b -- DOK
F27 Fokker Friendship -- DCB
Grumman Cougar GA-7 -- TAD
Aerospace Fletcher F4 -- BXQ
Aero Commander -- DCF
Beech 99 -- LLA

And a few more besides…including the NZWK airport fire engine (had to know how to use it if the local staff were not in attendance - loads of fun & never drove it to an emergency. Probably just as well!).

And this is my story. :D
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Re: NZFF Member -Sonnyj - featured September 2021

Postby Adamski » Sat Oct 09, 2021 9:07 pm

... and what a story it is!!!!

I hope you can resurrect your sim "shed" at some stage!!!

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Re: NZFF Member -Sonnyj - featured September 2021

Postby Aharon » Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:30 am

Great biography!!!


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