Former Dunedin man Keith Skilling, who piloted a World War 1 replica Fokker DVII from Blenheim yesterday. Photo by Mark Price.
Six World War 1 replica biplanes and triplanes are now in
Wanaka, being prepared for a mock battle leading up to the
Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow at Easter.
The planes are from the Vintage Aviator Company based in
Blenheim and owned by film director Sir Peter Jackson.
Their trip south for a free show over Lake Wanaka on Good
Friday is being funded by the Lottery Grants Board to mark
100 years since the beginning of World War 1.
One of the pilots, Keith Skilling, of Katikati, flying a
German Fokker DVII, said he grew up on the Taieri where his
father, Hugh, was chief flying instructor for the Otago Aero
Mr Skilling, who attended The Taieri High School, left
Dunedin in 1966 to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Now, after 35 years with Air New Zealand, he has just retired
from captaining Boeing 777s.
He said the planes had ''not missed a beat'' during the
''They fly very, very nicely.''
Group leader Gene De Marco said they had flown the planes
south early to take advantage of a spell of calm weather.
The flight took five and a-half hours at 70 knots, with half
a dozen stops for fuel.
The pilots returned to the North Island last night but will
be back in the week leading up to the show to practise for a
mock dogfight over Lake Wanaka on Good Friday.