Short film by Max Romey about New Zealand soaring
On Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 10:14:08 PM UTC-8, wrote:
Most excellent! I forwarded this to an 11-year-old Kiwi (future pilot) who is taking his first ride in a glider this weekend up here at Kaikohe airport, which hails as the largest grass strip in the Southern Hemisphere still used by general aviation (built in '42 as a US Marines bomber base). hooaahh! Too bad I don't have some of that Papa 7 Brewery celebratory libations handy once he lands ...
I've heard this claim before, but I'm really not sure on what basis Kaikohe is the "largest".
I'm moderately familiar with the airfield, having grown up in the area. My uncle used to have the contract to mow it when he farmed on Picadilly Rd. I was there watching gliding operations a few months ago, helping to get the gliders out and DI them etc.
From fence to fence the longest runway is 1.6 km long, with another of about 900m, and a 3rd maybe 650m usable (and maybe another 150m that could be mowed but wasn't when I was there).
To compare to my home club's field at Greytown/Papawai, the main runway is about 2.25 km long if you don't mind a slight kink, or 2.0 km if you insist on a straight run. The winch is normally set up with a 1.7 km run to speed up cable retrieve, with 350m of landable area before the launch point so landing gliders can stop at the launch point, again speeding up operations. There is about 200m of landable area behind the normal winch point. Admittedly, it's narrower than Kaikohe, with no more than about 75m of usable width in most places, and one 30m choke point near the winch. There is another runway almost at right angles and 1.5 km from fence to fence, with about a 600m x 100m space at the eastern end, then narrow for a few hundred metres, then another 500m or 600m of reasonably wide area at the western end (it's extremely rare to launch from there, but experienced pilots land there at the end of the day as it's next to the hangars).
So, Kaikohe clearly isn't the longest grass gliding field in NZ. Maybe it's the largest WWII field that still exists (eliminating Wigram, for example), is available for civilian users (eliminating two runways over 2 km long at Ohakea), and never tarsealed (eliminating a lot of others).