DC3 delayed, now expected Monday

"Preperation checks" have delayed the arrival of a restored DC3 aircraft bound for Te Anau on the final leg of the "Airscapade", retracing pioneering aviator Jean Batten's 1936 record-breaking flight.

The DC3, which set out from Lydd airport, England, on October 25, had been due to land in Te Anau tomorrow but will instead stay in Australia over the weekend and touch down in Auckland on Monday, before continuing south to its new home base.

In the past three weeks, the Airscapade, headed by France-based businessman Mark Oremland, owner of Te Anau Lodge, has retraced most of Batten's 22,000km journey, covering France, Italy, Cyprus, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, India, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and West Timor.

Australian stops were at Darwin, Mount Isa, Longreach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Norfolk Island.

At age 27, Batten, of Rotorua, became the first person to fly from England to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland 11 days and 45 minutes after leaving Lympne Aerodrome, near Folkestone, in Kent. The record remained unbroken for more than 40 years.

Once the DC3 arrives in Te Anau, it will remain there and eventually to be available for charter flights.

Te Anau Airport manager Evan Pearce said the DC3 was unpressurised and therefore limited to an altitude of 10,000ft, offering passengers "unparalleled views that no modern airliners can provide".

"The unforeseen delay of the DC3's arrival in Te Anau is a bit of a disappointment certainly - but completely understandable.

"We're all really looking forward to welcoming this grand dame of the skies, however, and this short delay will just fuel our excitement for its eventual arrival."

The aircraft was expected to land mid-afternoon "if not sooner" on Monday.

Tracey.Roxburgh@odt.co.nz