Flights at next year's 'Rides Day' at Wanaka Airport in
this Auckland-based Spitfire have sold out seven months in
advance. Photo supplied.
Flights over Wanaka in a 70-year-old Supermarine Spitfire
- costing about $3750 for half an hour - have sold out seven
months before the aircraft's scheduled visit to the town.
The flights will take place during a new ''Rides Day'' event
on Easter Monday following the Warbirds Over Wanaka
International Airshow. The day is facilitated by the Warbirds
Over Wanaka Community Trust and aims to encourage people into
aviation careers and warbird flying.
The Spitfire, owned by Auckland-based pilot and businessman,
Doug Brooker, completed nearly 90 combat missions with three
different squadrons operating over Europe during World War 2.
Flight operator Frank Parker said about 60% of the bookings
for the Wanaka flights were from overseas visitors, many of
the customers Australians.
''Because of the cost we tend to attract the pure enthusiasts
... individuals with the interest, desire and money to do
this once-in-a-lifetime experience.''
Mr Parker and his wife, Liz Needham, are both experienced
warbird pilots who recently started a business at Auckland's
Ardmore Airport, where they provide rides in three classic
warplanes: the Spitfire, a P-40 Kittyhawk and a Harvard.
There were still a few slots left for the Rides Day in the
Kittyhawk, at $2500 a ride. Extra flights had been scheduled
for early evening after the airshow on Friday, Saturday and
Sunday, but those had also already sold out in the Spitfire.
Passengers at the Rides Day will be able to choose from Tiger
Moths, a Pitts Special aerobatic aircraft, a range of
helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft, as well as classic
warbirds such as the Kittyhawk, P51-D Mustang, Harvard,
Strikemaster, jets and a Yak 52.