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West Auckland Airport, 76 Green Rd, Parakai, West Auckland. Road Map.. Ph 09 420.8010



West Auckland Airport Parakai is available for General Aviation, drop-in visitors welcome. Radio 123.5 in MBZ.  Due to frequent skydiving, please join downwind, base or final (not overhead).  Visitor parking by the hangars down taxiway 'B'



Lots of Gyros:  On a recent visit to Dargaville NZDA, the main hangar was open and revealed an interesting collection of Gyros from different eras...

First Generation:    The early gyros were aeroplanes with the wings replaced by a rotor, and little other change.  The objective was to make a plane that could not stall, and this was achieved as a gyro will just sink under good control if the forward speed is too low, rather than an abrupt stall.



Very early gyro. 


Next Generation:    There was no real need for the aircraft to look like a fixed wing plane, and various designers experimented with easy-to-build kits that had the essentials and not a lot else.   This let the gyro be much more manouverable than a fixed wing, but some pilots pushed the flight envelope too hard and gyros got a bad reputation amongst aviators.


Second generation gyro


Modern Gyro:   With the advent of commercial manufacturers (and a better understanding of the complex aerodynamics, professional maintenance, and better pilot training),  Gyros now have an excellent safety record with their ability to very slowly and land in a surprisingly small space if a precautionary landing is required.   They are increasingly popular as they can provide a capable and safe flying machine at reasonable cost.



David Horner with a  modern gyro while visiting NZDA.   David instructs in similar Gyros at West Auckland.


David Horner, the Gyro and Fixed wing instructor, writes:

The autogyro, gyrocopter or gyroplane has an interesting history and it is not difficult to see how gradual refinements in design, more comprehensive testing and technological improvements over time have led to better aircraft with more predictable and stable flying characteristics.

The initial stimulus for early design was around making a ‘wing’ which would not stall at slow forward speeds – the solution - a ‘spinning wing’.  With no tail rotor for yaw control, and little or no pitch control, initial types had a rudder and elevators and looked like a conventional aeroplane with a rotor instead of wings.  However the very early types had a rigid rotor blade set up which generated strong gyroscopic forces which would tend to tilt the aircraft to one side, and create unbalanced vertical lift forces on one or other side of the rotor disc as soon as forward movement was attempted.

Both tractor and pusher prop set ups were also experimented with.  Tractor props (as in conventional aeroplanes) have better clearance from the overhead rotor disc but thrust is further from the rudder/elevators and at slow speeds this means mushy controls. Pusher props provide better slow speed control but potentially conflict with the rotating disc above if it flexes.

Another issue to be overcome was how to initially spin up the main rotor to something close to the speed necessary to create sufficient lift to take off. In the early days this was achieved by hand or by external assistance – a team of horses and a pulley sometimes!.  Without sufficient rotor rpm, it was difficult to create enough lift to climb out after take off. (Youtube videos available today still show people not thinking properly about this, even in newer models!)

Early models therefore had some limitations and some gyro designs earned the reputation of being difficult to fly and unstable or even dangerous.

Later early designs and the 2nd generation evolved with a significant improvement to the original rigid rotor control system with a hinged system which allows the rotor disc to ‘flap’ ie move up or down depending on whether it is travelling forward (more lift) or rearward (less lift). Also a pre-rotation system was developed where some engine power is used to drive a pre-rotator shaft and get the main disc partially up to speed. And a pusher prop design became the norm. These improvements eliminated many of the early control issues.

With more powerful engines and flight possible over greater distances and in more adverse weather conditions, other considerations came to light. It was found that some pilots responded to turbulence or uncomfortable situations with excessive pitch changes and abrupt throttle closing / opening. When this was done on a gyro with a relatively high thrust line relative to the C of G, a Powered Push Over was achieved – sometimes in combination with main rotor flexing and striking of the prop or rear fin – often with lethal results. While the majority of owners enjoyed steady, predictable flying characteristics, the few that did not reinforced the idea that ‘gyro’s are dangerous’. This, in combination with the fact that it is not immediately obvious how the damn thing stays in the air meant people generally did not trust them.

The design and flight training for the current 3rd generation, modern gyro (and arguably 4th? Fully enclosed) has all but eliminated these potential flaws and they represent a great way to really enjoy flying – at moderate speeds and at relatively low levels. Like any aircraft they require care and attention, and as the pilot in command you need to remember what it is you are flying and which control inputs are and are not needed at different times.

Also when flying in the circuit, remember that the pre take off prep, the roll and climb out, the circuit height and speed, and descent path for landing may be entirely different than a fixed wing aircraft!






West Auckland Airport Parakai: Facilities & Services. Visitor facilities with tea / coffee / cold drinks / toilets in Pilot Lounge.   Icecreams and more cold drinks are often available at the skydiving base across the road.  

Courtesy car for aviators by arrangement (35 mins to Auckland CBD, 30 mins to Albany, 25 mins to  Silverdale), and Studio apartment on airport can be booked for overnight stays.

Aircraft Engineering, Aerobatics, Skydiving, Introductory flights and Flight Training for PPL/CPL, Microlights and Gyrocopters. Aircraft parking, Hangarage, Hangar building sites.

Phone first 09 420 8010 if you will need fuel, as sometimes we're all off flying. Commercial opportunities exist for new operators at West Auckland.


Google Earth view of Airport:  The current Google update shows the recent developments around the Airport: lots more concrete taxiways to give access to the aprons without needing to backtrack runways as much, and the 'swooping pond' for the skydivers to practice their water skiing.  There is said to be only one other purpose-built swooping pond in the Southern Hemisphere, so it is expected to attract sports skydivers from all over.



West Auckland Airport (Image from Oct 17)


Rugby Ball record attempt:  An attempt on the Guiness World Record for catching the highest Rugby Ball... the existing record being a catch from around 300ft.   Here the ground crew are set up, with Rugby Referees Assn person on hand with the balls and to certify that they are standard, Survey Worx surveyors to certify the height, a TV crew to record the event, Big Helo for the TV, small Helo to do the drops, Catering to feed everyone, Airport person on the radio in case of visiting aircraft, and of course a rugby player there to do the actual catching.   

Catching proved a lot more difficult than anticipated... the ball fell vertically for perhaps 100ft until it stabilised, then glided off at a noticeable angle using the aerodynamic properties of an oval ball.  The result was its arrival anywhere on a 50m circle centred on the catcher, but not inside that circle.   There were some heroic dashes but nothing like a catch.    After many valiant attempts the old record still stands.   Nice try fellas!


Helo comes in for one of the drops


Orange guy is centered directly under the Helo.  The yellow one to the right is running for the ball which is in flight just to the right of the two Norfolk pines, and gliding quickly to the right.  





Coming Events:


Sat 20th January,  Classics of the Sky ...  Tauranga City Air Show.   At Tauranga Airport, NZTG.  Afternoon and evening shows with gates open 13:30.  Show at 15:00.   Black Falcons and more including vintage military display. Free parking.  Tickets available from Eventfinda



Sat  - Monday 27th to 29th January:   NZ Autogyro Assn fly-in at Dannevirke:   AGM and plenty of gyros coming and going.  "Don't be shy to turn up and ask questions and ask for a ride".  Details on



Sat 10th Feb 18:   Te Kowhai (NZTE) Market day and Fly-in:   Annual event that is always a lot of fun to fly-in.

Click here for airfield details.



Sat 10th Feb 18:   Dargaville Flyin. (NZDA) Fly-in and open house, 10 February 2018.
Focus is on gyrocopters and trikes, but all aerial conveyances most welcome. BBQ lunch, coffee and tea, and the usual DA hospitality.. ..
Click here for airfield details.



Fri 16th - Sat 17th - Sun 18th February:   RAANZ National Flyin at Stratford (NZSD).  Details as above.


Mata Airfield

Sat 24th Feb:   Mata BBQ: NMC/Mata BBQ Flyin at Leo John’s airfield at Mata across the harbour to the south of Whangarei Airport. Tea, coffee and scones from 10am.   Click here for airfield details.


Recurring Events:

DARGAVILLE: Every Saturday. Fly in for lunch. Famous throught the north for it's lamb on a spit, and usually draws a good crowd of hungry aviators. Clubhouse Ph 09 439 8024. Click here for airfield details.

COROMANDEL: Lunch 2nd Sunday of each month from 12:30. Clubhouse Ph 07 866 2055. Click here for airfield details.

WHANGAREI: Last Saturday of each month at hangar 10, the Western end of the row of hangars.  Whangarei Flying Club meeting at 10:30 with lunch to follow.  Clubhouse phone 09 436 4053.  Click here for airfield details.



Tower and Engineering

 West Auckland Airport Parakai, from the NE on mid right base for 25. Click for larger photo


 West Auckland Airport Parakai, from the SW (non traffic side).  Click for larger photo

This is webpage is updated weekly, apart from 'Coming Events' which are updated as soon as known.Parakai Aero

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