The Aviation Adventures Team includes some of the most skilled pilots in the business.

We are dedicated to giving you an enjoyable experience and providing quality service.  We like meeting people as much as we like flying.  Sharing the joys of a biplane flight is what we do best!

Chris Rudge
Chief Pilot and Director

Chris has been flying gliders and powered aircraft since 1984. As a tow pilot flying "tail dragger" aircraft, he completed over 5000 glider launches. His total time in aircraft exceeds 4800 hours. He also holds New Zealand and Canadian commercial licences for aeroplanes and balloons, and has flown helicopters. He was the first New Zealander (and one of only a few people in the world) to log 1000 hours each on aeroplanes, gliders and balloons. In addition to holding four New Zealand national aviation records, he has been flying in the area around Aoraki Mt Cook for 28 years and was the Chief Flying Instructor for the Southern Soaring gliding company from February 2006 until April 2010. Other achievements include being the author of two non-fiction aviation books, one novel and visiting Antarctica eight times.

Tarn Jones

Tarn has had an interest in aviation, Mount Cook and the outdoors for much of her life. She has worked as cabin crew for Mount Cook Airlines for over 27 years. Prior to that she worked for a season in Antarctica at McMurdo Station on Ross Island, where she met Chris. She has travelled extensively in North America, explored the Pacific countries of Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands, and hiked in the Nepalese Himalaya. Other interests include kayaking, mountain biking, whale watching and helping run a community garden in Lyttelton.

Darren Smith

Pilot, Quality Assurance Manager

  Darren Smith is an experienced pilot with over 6200 hours fixed-wing time (2500 of this being in tail-dragger aircraft) and over 1400 hours as a glider pilot. He use to fly the off-seasons in Canada fire-patrolling and currently works in New Zealand flying a PAC750 on skydive operations in Wanaka, and the Pilatus Porter aircraft in Franz Josef. Darren also spent time in the Mt Cook region flying the "Porter" on skis landing on the Tasman Glacier.