A chance encounter with a Royal Australian Air Force plane
was the difference between Air Milford's newly purchased
Cessna Caravan plane getting to its next scheduled stopover
or having to divert to an airport where it did not have
Antony Sproull (29) co-piloted the $NZ2 million Cessna on
behalf of his father, Air Milford owner Hank Sproull, for the
flight from Athens, Greece, to Queenstown over 10 days. He
touched down in the resort on January 10.
The flight path included stopovers in Rhodes (Greece), Luxor
(Egypt), Muscat (capital of Oman), Colombo (Sri Lanka), and
the Australian ports of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Broome,
Alice Springs, Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Lord Howe Island
before finally Queenstown.
Mr Sproull said he had never been through customs so many
''You get sick of all that - belt off, shoes off.
''It took a long time and a lot of patience but it was all
part of the excursion.''
Refuelling the plane proved ''quite a process''.
While in the Cocos Islands the crew, which included two
Australian pilots, fuelled up the day before leaving with the
volume needed for the next day's trip.
When they woke the next morning, they found the wind was
double that forecast.
It is a small island and Mr Sproull said fuel acquisition
needed to be pre-arranged but thankfully the Australian Air
Force had an Orion aircraft based on the islands ''and that
morning they happened to be doing an early start at the same
time we were heading out''.
''So it was just a stroke of luck that the fuel tanker was on
the airfield and had fuel left, too, because quite often the
Orion takes all the fuel tanker's fuel ... and [then] you've
got to wait until the next shipment comes.
''So that was a blessing really, and quite coincidental.''
Hank Sproull joined his son on the final leg of the journey
and said the whole trip would have been ''a great
Aside from the 68.5 hours of flying, it included ''the
clearance, the protocol, the customs, [and] the refuelling'',
''It just opens a great big door to what happens in the rest
of the world.''