Jet-set adrenaline a thrilling option

Aviator Peter Meadows who has launched a high-end scenic and aerobatic flight business from the Wakatipu Aero Club at Frankton. Mr Meadows' fleet includes a 1973 Delfin fighter jet, built in the Czech Republic. Photo by Mountain Scene.
Aviator Peter Meadows who has launched a high-end scenic and aerobatic flight business from the Wakatipu Aero Club at Frankton. Mr Meadows' fleet includes a 1973 Delfin fighter jet, built in the Czech Republic. Photo by Mountain Scene.
Queenstown has a new rush - fighter jet rides at 500kmh.

Experienced aviator Peter Meadows is running his high-end scenic and aerobatic flights from Queenstown Airport, after relocating from Tauranga and, latterly, Wanaka.

Mr Meadows said his fleet comprised some nostalgic, classic aircraft known worldwide - a 1941 American-built Harvard trainer, a Russian 1996 Yak 52, and a 1973 Delfin fighter jet, which cruises at 500kmh and was built in the Czech Republic.

Prices for 20 to 30-minute scenic cruises range from $495 for the Yak to $595 for the Harvard and up to $2200 for the jet.

All three planes could perform aerobatics but Mr Meadows said most clients only wanted to do a couple of loops and rolls. Two companies offered thrill-flights in a Pitts Specials several years ago but Mr Meadows said he now had the only aerobatic aircraft operating in Queenstown.

He said his company, Double X Aviation, was able to fly passengers in military aircraft after getting adventure aviation clearance from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

''New Zealand was 30 years behind the world but now we're world leaders,'' he said.

Mr Meadows started set up Double X Aviation in Tauranga two years ago but said the city lacked infrastructure like tourist hotels. This year he relocated to Wanaka but said his work was mainly came from Queenstown.

His business now shares space at the airport with the Wakatipu Aero Club.

Mr Meadows said the planes had collectively cost about $500,000 and were very expensive to run.

''If we don't get the support of Queenstown, then we don't survive.''

Mr Meadows (60) said he had been flying for 30 years but also had wide experience in hospitality and adventure tourism.

- Philip Chandler.