To catch up on the latest developments
with Aviation Adventures Limited
and our Red Cat Biplane Flights operation,
this is the place to come!
Check out the video
of the two-minute TV3 news story! Just click
here! For the Ashburton TV You Tube video, please click
27 March 2011
March has turned out to be one of the best months
of the season with excellent weather and steady numbers of tourists
through. This week saw the release of the Canon commercial featuring
the Ag-Cat. To view this on You Tube, please click here!
A frame from the new Canon commercial shot by The Shooting Gallery
Flavell, a retired undertaker from Taihape, about to head away on
a flight to Lake Benmore.
colour of Lake Benmore is slowly returning to its more turquoise hue
but some passengers have described the current colour as milky peppermint.
and Kathy Ventress, who flew to Benmore Dam on 23 March in perfect weather.
winds have made March an excellent month for flights. Water is still
being spilt regularly from Benmore Dam.
13 March 2011
Despite the recent earthquakes in Christchurch
and Lyttelton, the numbers flying during March have been excellent
and in the first 10 days of the month we exceeded the total number that
flew in March last year. Another bonus this month was being featured
in The New Zealand Adventure Guide, a high quality large
format book covering the best adventure activities in the country. Red
Cat Biplane flights was the ONLY scenic flight company (other than skydiving
and heli combos) included in the guide!
New Zealand Adventure Guide.
on the mountains north-west of Omarama on the morning of 6 March 2011.
The snow quickly melted and the weather since then has been sunny with
light winds on most days.
(age 80) and Noeline McGregor, visitors from Southland, after a flight
in perfect weather on 9 March 2011
24 February 2011
Disaster struck Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February
with a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. Sadly, many people were killed.
The epicentre was Lyttelton - my home. Fortunately my wife and daughter
were not hurt. I felt the earthquake in Omarama and left immediately
to head home and help. The contents of our house were trashed and we have
suffered structural damage to exterior walls - something we avoided in
the initial earthquake on 4 September last year. The force of this earthquake
was estimated as being three times as strong for Lyttelton as the first
earthquake. We now have power on but the clean up will take days, particularly
since we have no water. While I am away, Darren Smith will continue flying
the Ag-Cat from Omarama, which is 250 km away from Christchurch. My heart
goes out to all those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.
flattened car on Norwich Quay, Lyttelton. Television New Zealand published
this photo on their website.
is the view of Oxford Street. All of Lyttelton's historic buildings
will have been damaged. This and other buildings will have to be demolished.
The town will never be the same again.
is what our kitchen looked like after the quake struck. The microwave
was thrown off the fridge, which has emptied its contents onto the
library with over 500 books piled on the floor. My wife escaped this
room with seconds to spare when the quake hit.
My daughter Tara cooking breakfast
on the barbecue the day after the earthquake. At this point we had
no power. Water is still out and it may take weeks to repair broken
10 February 2011
Today was another highlight of the season -
a flight in perfect weather along the summit ridge of Aoraki Mt Cook.
The clients were Manuel Kellnhofer, a 25-year-old air traffic controller,
and Christa Gattinger, a 29-year-old banker. Both were from Austria.
With Chris as pilot, everyone had multiple layers of clothing on due
to the near-zero temperatures. What an adventure in an open-cockpit
approach to Aoraki Mt Cook from the south. What a view!
Mt Cook from the north
Approaching the summit ridge.
Manuel Kellnhofer and Christa
Gattinger after the flight
6 February 2011
With the school holidays now over, things are
a bit quieter around the airfield but an increasing number of overseas
tourists are now flying. This week we flew Murray and Pam Taylor, well-known
Omarama identities who own the Four Square Supermarket in town.
weather for scenic flying - the air doesn't get much clearer than this!
rains around Christmas, the colour of Lake Benmore is slowly returning
to a more turquoise hue, although it is still very milky in appearance.
Omarama identities, Pam and Murray Taylor, after their flight on
23 January 2011
Today was our most productive day ever with
flights to the Clay Cliffs and Benmore Dam, as well as completing
a film commercial for a Singaporean company. The film location was
the glaciated Mt Bath on the Hunter Ridge and involved a helicopter
doing air-to-air shots, as well as using two aircraft-mounted cameras.
The scenery was spectacular!
of the Shooting Gallery film crew after we had completed filming.
North side of Mt Bath, photographed
from down in the Ahuriri valley. What a great day for filming!
Looking back up the Ahuriri
River after dropping down from the 8000 foot high Mt Bath
Preparing the Ag-Cat for filming.
At front, Mike Jarman talks to Jamie (pilot for Tekapo Helicopters)
and Rolland, New Zealand agent for the Shooting Gallery.
Ackroyd, member of the Canterbury Gliding Club and dentist extraordinaire,
about to head off on the Dambuster Special. He was smiling before
he had even left the ground!
12 January 2011
Busy, busy, busy. The Christmas and New Year
period has been marked with a few days of rain but fine weather
in between has kept Chris and Mike busy. Flight numbers are up on
last season and locals in particular have been enjoying the opportunity
of doing some open-cockpit biplane flying.
Ahuriri River in flood
Blair and Olivia, who have
a holiday home in Omarama, after a flight to the Clay Cliffs. Olivia thought
the experience was "awesome!".
Spilling from Benmore Dam.
This photo now features on the Television New Zealand News website.
26 December 2010
Ag-Cat recently flew to Timaru for its 50-hour inspection prior
to the busy holiday period from Boxing Day until the end of February.
Flying conditions have remained good and the Dambuster Special flight
is proving our most popular.
guys at Avtek tuning the engine on 16 December
skylark chicks in a nest by the hangar
12 December 2010
On Saturday 11 December, Chris and Mike
operated from the Waimate Airfield doing flights over the Waimate
Strawberry Fare. An estimated 14,000 people went to the event. Thanks
to Charles, Mark and Ross of the Waimate Aero Club for their hospitality.
to Waimate on Saturday morning
Flying down the lower Waitaki
Valley. What a day!
of the Ag-Cat from the Waimate Aero Club clubrooms.
Jarman after flying our first passengers at Waimate. Pictured
with Mike are Maureen Fuller and Barbara Basford.
Johnstone (age 22) and Eugene Gillian after their flight at Waimate.
The flight was Jasmine's very first in an aircraft! Why fly on a
Boeing when you can go on a biplane!
Heading off for another flight
with kids and families looking on.
Aviation Adventures Ltd hangar at Omarama with grass now grown
around the apron area
5 December 2010
Over the past two weeks visitor numbers have picked up. Chris
flew the Ag-Cat to Pukaki on 27 November for the Mackenzie Mistletoe
Market. The children and parents from the local kindergarten had
built a Christmas float of the biplane, so it was nice to fly overhead
for the parade. Mike Jarman has rejoined the team after returning
from flying in Australia.
Trips to Benmore Dam are proving
to be our most popular flight option. The colour of the water in
Lake Benmore is stunning.
The Ag-Cat at Pukaki Airfield.
The air temperature was over 30'C - perfect for open cockpit flying!
Maurya and Sanhita Pydah, the
company's first passengers to fly from Pukaki Airfield. They enjoyed
a 15 minute flight over Lake Pukaki and the town of Twizel.
22 November 2010
Things have been busy at Omarama recently with
the South Island Regional Gliding Championships being held over
the last week that saw over 30 gliders getting airborne on most
days. Likewise, the Ag-Cat has been flying on most days too, with
both Chris and Darren doing flights. One couple from Sussex (UK)
described their biplane flight as the "highlight of their holiday!".
Rudge heads off on another scenic flight out of Omarama. The aircraft
sounds as good as it looks! Photo: Geoff
and Roger from the UK. Their biplane flight to Benmore Dam was
the "highlight of their holiday!"
lined up prior to getting airborne in the South Island Regional
6 November 2010
The weather in Omarama over the last
two weeks has been superb - more like late summer than early spring.
With plenty of sunshine, the grass has been growing nicely around
the hangar and the office is now almost ready for the season ahead.
Fukuhara and Steve Brown after the first flight for the season
A visiting car club used the Ag-Cat as a backdrop
for taking photos over Labour Weekend. The car is actually older
than the aircraft!
A 1972 ad for a Dodge Charger
seen on eBay two weeks AFTER the top photo was taken. You would
think we had seen the ad first, not the other way around!
Darren Smith warms up the Pratt
and Whitney Wasp Junior prior to doing an annual check with Peter
18 October 2010
operations at Ashburton ended in fine style on Saturday with
a couple of flights. It has been a fantastic six months - thanks
to the huge support from the guys and gals of the Ashburton Aviation
Museum who made me so welcome. Today the Cat flew to Omarama for the
south from Ashburton to Omarama for summer
through the Mackenzie Pass
Ag-Cat in her new purpose-built hangar for the first time
Cat looking forward to working in the Mackenzie Basin for another season.
14 October 2010
This week the hangar flloor received
three coats of Epotread floor sealer. Aviation Adventures has
also bought a Portacabin building for use as an office.
Portacabin purchased for use as an office
coats of a two-pot paint now cover the hangar floor at Omarama
6 October 2010
Over the last week the weather has
been perfect for flying with light winds and sunny skies. On Saturday
Kerry Ford and Hamish Foote enjoyed a Faultline Flight and on Wednesday
Bob Healey and Ray Leslie enjoyed our first "after work" flight - possible
now with daylight saving.
showing hedge displaced after earthquake and farmers ploughing
the cracked ground prior to sowing grass for stock.
Ford and Hamish Foote after the Faultline Flight
Photo: Abby Foote
flight over Lake Hood
29 September 2010
Interest in the Faultline Flight has
been strong with several bookings and vouchers being purchased.
If you are interested in this flight option, we recommend booking
soon. This week landscaping was completed around the new hangar
in Omarama and grass has been sown.
Smith giving Chris a hand to prepare the area around the
hangar apron for sowing grass seed.
finished apron area after landscaping and seed sowing.
24 September 2010
Matt Salthouse and Tina Briggs were
the winners of the Trade Me auctions to raise funds for an
earthquake charity. Aviation Adventures donated $545.00 towards
St John, an organisation that played such an important role during
the Canterbury earthquake. Matt and Tina had their one hour flight
on Tuesday in great flying conditions. To see the full story in Wednesday's
Timaru Herald, please click here!
down on the faultline. It runs from left to right and
you can see the two hedges offset. At left the farmer has
grazed up to the fault scarp using electric fences - hence the
back to Ashburton from the earthquake zone
Briggs and Matt Salthouse after the Faultline Flight
view Brad and Jenny McCubbin (Melbourne, Australia) enjoyed
over Mt Hutt on Thursday afternoon.
19 September 2010
Last week ZK-CAT had a holiday in
Timaru while it received some new paint to the tailplane.
Yesterday we called in to see Russell and Lynda Brodie
at their Rangitata Island home, where they have an airfield.
It was a fantastic spring day with only light winds, although
it blew a bit later in the day at Ashburton. Today the weather
got even better.
Cat, black cat. Russell Brodie at Rangitata Island with
his cat "Moth".
sunshine at Rangitata Island
north of Timaru - a great day!
and Hec enjoying the south Canterbury countryside as we
fly toward Ashburton. What a view!
Pulham and Lorna McVeigh after their flight on Sunday.
12 September 2010
What a week! Since last Saturday's
earthquake, we have had over 300 aftershocks. Compared to others,
we were lucky - no damage to the aircraft or hangar at Ashburton and
only minor damage to home in Lyttelton, Christchurch. To help those
worse off, Aviation Adventures is running an online charity auction
to support victims of the Christchurch Earthquake. Up for auction is
a one-hour flight along the faultline (press "Scenic Flights" button
at left to see details). To bid on the auction, please click here.
photo clearly shows movement along the fault trace
with a hedge and wheel tracks from a fertiliser truck displaced
sideways. Photo: Geonet
1 September 2010
Spring has now arrived and the days
are getting warmer. At the end of August, the area around
the Omarama hangar was prepared for pouring the concrete apron,
soaks pits were added and low points were filled with soil
prior to seed sowing. The weather on Wednesday was perfect
for a trip to Mount Hutt and Chris flew two Spanish visitors over
the skifield (which they had been skiing on the day before). It
was a great adventure!
Flying over Mount Hutt Skifield.
Looking south-west to Mount Somers.
Huskun Martinez and Jesus Posada from Spain after
their adventure in the Red Cat.
The apron boxed and ready for concrete.
The Ag-Cat at Ashburton with a north-west sky.
6 August 2010
The flashings have now been added to
the hangar at Omarama and the door installation is complete.
On Wednesday the company went front page of the Timaru Herald
regarding a story about advertising on State Highway One. The
best bit was a photograph of the DC3 cockpit with the 0800 phone
number on the side which was circulated region wide!
Now that has to be a hangar view that's hard
This view shows how the hangar door folds upwards.
Russell Davies (middle) and Graham Gilbert
(right) after a recent flight over Ashburton in the
Front page of the Timaru Herald - great advertising!
15 July 2010
This week saw some fantastic coverage
of the Red Cat in the Pacific Wings magazine and also
on Ashburton TV. To see the Ashburton TV story on You Tube,
please click the link here!
The article in the July edition of Pacific Wings
12 July 2010
Things have continued to remain busy
with flights every day the museum is open. The new hangar
at Omarama is now enclosed with the door fitted. Some flashings
still require fitting and the concrete apron is awaiting warmer
weather before pouring. When that is done the site can be
cleaned up and grass sown.
Tara and Stephanie over Ashburton on Wednesday.
The new hangar is located to the east the existing
hangars. Although higher, it was built to match the
current designs by having a five degree pitch to the
roof and corrugated iron attached horizontally to the
east and west walls.
Interior of hangar. The door hinges horizontally
in two sections and folds upwards which does away
with the need for external tracks and posts.
4 July 2010
A new record! The weekend of the 3rd
and 4th July was the busiest yet for the company with
18 passengers flown in perfect conditions - clear skies,
no wind and mild temperatures. On Saturday the Cat ran continuously
from noon until 5.00 pm.
Perfect winter flying weather at Ashburton!
27 June 2010
This week saw the new hangar at Omarama
being erected. With plenty of snow about, conditions
were not exactly ideal but the builders battled the conditions
to get the building ready for spring.
How the hangar looked on Wednesday 23 June.
Photo: Paul Hunter
A view looking south. This is the front, which
faces north. Photo:
20 June 2010
Conditions have been ideal for
flying lately and yesterday was no exception with a couple of flights
being done over Ashburton and Lake Hood in smooth air. For those
wanting to fly over Mt Hutt skifield, we now have that option
available for $395.00 per person. Local flights are still just $135.00
Evening flight over Ashburton looking towards
Margaret and Neil McConachie prior to a Town
and Around flight
The Cat sharing space with DC3 ZK-AMY in the
Ashburton Aviation Museum display hangar after
a day's flying.
31 May 2010
Aviation Adventures went front page
of the South Island's biggest newspaper today. The
Press ran a photo of the Ag-Cat over Benmore Dam on the front
page of the paper, as well as on the front page of the lift-out
Escape travel supplement!
24 May 2010
The weather has remained a bit damp for
flying but on Saturday the sun was shinning and 87 year old Jim MacDonald,
who use to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes during WWII, enjoyed a flight
in the Cat. On Sunday, Chris flew two farm workers over the farm they
had been living on east of Hinds - a shout from the owners prior to
them working on another farm near Mayfield. For further details on Jim's
wartime career, please click here.
Jim Macdonald and Robin Corbett prior to the
19 May 2010
Recent rain and low cloud has put a
bit of a damper on flying but the good news this week was Robin Corbett
finished the sign writing on the DC3 cockpit so
that it can now go out on State Highway One to advertise
biplane flights and the Ashburton Aviation Museum.
Robin Corbett proudly stands in front of the
DC3 cockpit after sign writing was completed.
The DC3 cockpit with the Ag-Cat in the Ashburton
Aviation Museum's Display Hangar.
Business is picking up with flights on
most days and some advanced bookings. Jim Chivers (with help from Danny)
finished painting the DC3 cockpit over the weekend in preparation for
sign writing. The Ag-Cat is also looking great after the top wing surface
got a cut and polish (a six hour job, which isn't easy with the wing 3.3
metres off the ground!).
Jim Chivers removing masking from the windows
after painting of the DC3 cockpit was completed.
Another Jim Chivers masterpiece! What a smart
Richard Sorbian and wife Fiona sent us this lovely
picture after flying with us and touring New Zealand on their motorbikes prior
to returning to Tasmania. See you again in the spring!
28 April 2010
Progress has been steady in setting
up the winter operation from the Ashburton Aviation
Museum. The Museum committee has voted in favour of supporting
the Red Cat operation and the Ag-Cat will be hangared
in the Museum's Display Hangar. The Ashburton Guardian
ran a story on Aviation Adventure's biplane flights on
Monday morning after Chris flew reporter Lance Isbister and
photographer Kirsty Graham last week. On Tuesday Aviation
Adventures passed its six-monthly CAA audit with flying colours.
This means our Air Operator's Certificate will now be approved
for two years, prior to another audit and a further extension
of five years.
Chris's DC3 is now ready for painting red by
Jim Chivers. Once that is completed, signs
will be applied and the cockpit will go out on
Highway One to advertise biplane flights and the museum.
18 April 2010
Autumn operations have
now started from Ashburton Aerodrome and the Ag-Cat
has received a lot of interest from locals. The guys from
the Ashburton Aviation Museum have been hugely supportive.
On Sunday, Richie McCaw arrived at the aerodrome with a bunch
of kids who flew down from Christchurch on the Southern DC3
Trust's ZK-AMY. As well as people flying on the Ag-Cat, Les
Vincent took a number of the kids for a flight in Devon ZK-XNZ.
The Ag-Cat outside the Ashburton Aviation Museum.
Birds of a feather . .
The Southern DC3 Trust's ZK-AMY "Lady Jane".
To see what
was new from April 2009 to April 2010, please click