Vintage chopper squadron idea

A Wanaka man is floating the idea of forming a squadron of vintage helicopters.

Chris Marsden (62) is a company director and ''low-hours'' pilot, who spends half his year in Wanaka and the other half in Hampshire, England.

One of his passions is vintage military helicopters, particularly British-made Westland Wasps and Scouts.

His collection of five helicopters includes one that in 1980 flew British Special Air Service troops to the Iranian embassy to rescue 26 hostages held inside by eight armed terrorists.

Two years ago he brought two of his helicopters - both around 50 years old - to Wanaka.

He chose the area partly because of the scenery and partly because of its uncluttered air space.

However, he has not had a great deal of use from the helicopters since they arrived here and he is now advertising for ''flying buddies'' with the necessary skills to take them on fishing and other trips into the mountains.

''I need to get to know the lie of the land, where to fly, where not to fly and my intention is to do a proper mountain flying course.''

Mr Marsden has built several of the hangars at the Wanaka Airport and uses one of them to store the New Zealand part of his collection.

''One of my possible aims in the future is to establish a historic helicopter museum - not a museum that has pieces of aircraft sitting around but a historic helicopter flight or squadron.''