This page covers what was new during the
period April 2009 to April 2010. For the latest news, please click here.
check out the video of the two-minute TV3 news story! Just
11 April 2010
Chris flew the Ag-Cat to Ashburton today,
where it will be based over the winter months. Rod Dew towed the DC3
trailer/cockpit up to Ashburton too, where it will receive a new paint
scheme and sign writing. We did a good number of flights in April, helped
by the excellent weather and people passing through to the Warbirds Over
Wanaka event at Easter. In other developments, Darren has sold
his shares in the business to Chris. Darren will be heading to Canada
shortly but will be back to help fly the aircraft next summer. Progress
has also been made on the hangar with the concrete slab being poured after
Flying west of Geraldine on Sunday at 5500 feet
heading for greener pastures at Ashburton.
Perfect open-cockpit flying weather! The temperature
in Ashburton was well into the 20's - unusual for April.
The hangar pad prior to Easter with reinforcing
The hangar pad after Easter following the concrete
21 March 2010
Weather conditions were perfect for flying the Ag-Cat
this week. Hopefully conditions will be ideal over Easter as a
lot of people will be passing through Omarama on the way to Warbirds
Blue skies and red wings - perfect biplane flying
weather. The passengers for this flight were Bill and Fay Frater
Self portrait. This is the view looking into
one of two mirrors mounted on the rear of the fuel tank (see
The hangar site as it looked on Tuesday 16 March
14 March 2010
Jarman has now completed his five hours of training and competency
check to become our third pilot, which is great news! To build hours,
he flew the Ag-Cat to Mt Cook with Nick Wyngaarden and Adam Dalziel
in the front. Chris Rudge took photos from a Cessna 150 flown by Brad
Newfield. We got some great photos, despite the lens on Adam's camera
somehow disconnecting from the camera body and disappearing out the
open aircraft door! If anyone finds an expensive camera lens on the Fox
neve, we would love to have it back!
Jarman after getting his rating on the Ag-Cat
of the air-to-air photos we got near Mt Cook
anyone see an expensive camera lens down there?
7 March 2010
Monday we had a visit from the Omarama School and all the kids
got to sit in the Red Cat, which they loved. On Friday evening Mike
Jarman got his rating on the aircraft from Peter Hendriks.
Kids from Omarama School line
up for their turn to sit in the cockpit of the Red Cat. Photo:
Chris explains the differences
of a biplane to the Omarama School children who are studying
Photo: Rod Dew
Paul Hunter scrapes the hangar
site on Thursday.
28 February 2010
was very steady this week with excellent flying weather and plenty
of tourists calling in. Chris flew the Ag-Cat up to Timaru for
its annual check on Monday. The hangar site has now been marked out.
Pre-dawn refueling prior to
flying to Timaru
flight over Lake Benmore on Monday
The Ag-Cat getting its annual
check at Avtek.
of the aircraft is easy as all the fuselage panels are removable.
This view shows the hopper which has two comfortable passenger
21 February 2010
had our best day so far on Tuesday this week with 16 passengers
being flown from a MacDonalds conference at the Countrytime Hotel.
This was in addition to other passengers we flew. In other developments,
this week saw the arrival of our new brochure and three new footpath
signs. Last week we passed a CAA audit with flying colours (no pun
intended!) and this week coming, the site for our new hangar will
be marked out.
taxies away from the Countrytime Hotel on Tuesday with another
couple of passengers.
clear flying conditions on Friday morning - what a view!
and small, we take them all . . .
view of Benmore Dam on Friday
7 February 2010
weather for open-cockpit flying has been perfect over the last
two weeks with temperatures up to 30'C and light winds. Our Clay
Cliffs Circuit flight is proving popular for those on a tighter
budget or wanting a shorter experience. Come and give it a go or perhaps
buy one of our vouchers at just $135.00 per person!
1 February saw the Southern DC3 visit Omarama. Despite our
biplane's 1920's appearance, the DC3 is actually 30 years older
than the Ag-Cat!
A late evening thunderstorm on Friday 29 January
just prior to towing the Ag-Cat back to the tie-down area for
the night. Photo: Darren Smith.
24 January 2010
a fantastic week we have had! With more firsts for the company,
this week we flew our youngest and oldest passengers! Conditions
were perfect for flights to the Dam and the Clay Cliffs. We have
also added a few more flight options to cater for people wanting
and Joey Vaughan. On being asked what they thought of the flight
after landing, they both cried "That was AWESOME!"
and Bernard Monk. Bernard trained on Tiger Moths in WWII and
later went on to be a navigator and bomb aimer on Wellingtons
and Liberators. He enjoyed getting behind a radial engine again!
and Bernard Monk return from a flight with Darren.
17 January 2010
is the perfect time to do a Dambuster flight! Due to recent
rain in the high country, all the hydro lakes are full to capacity
and water is being spilled down the Tekapo River and from the Pukaki
Spillway. This means Benmore Dam is also spilling and the view of
the extra water cascading from the dam is simply stunning when viewed
from the air! This doesn't happen often so we suggest booking soon so
you don't miss out.
straight down the Benmore Spillway - the South Island's ultimate
hydro-silde! Photo: Darren Smith
excellent view of the spillway from in front of the dam.
Photo: Darren Smith
10 January 2010
recent news stories on TV3, and in the Otago Daily Times
and the Timaru Herald, lots of people have been coming to look
at the Ag-Cat and take flights down to Benmore Dam. A highlight
last week was to fly Sonja Philip and Jim Metherell from Totara
Peak Station over their land and homestead. It was Jim's birthday and
the flight had been kept a secret. As we flew past the helipad 1000
feet above the lake, Jim got a nice surprise when he read "LUV U JIM"
which Sonja and her friends had spelt on the hillside with large stones
sprayed with dazzle paint!
and Fiona Lill after their flight to Lake Aviemore
interviewing passengers about their Ag-Cat experience
down the North Arm of Lake Benmore from Totara Peak Station.
Philip and Jim Metherell on Jim's birthday
down on Totara Peak Station.
27 December 2009
the past few weeks we have been flying regularly, with the Benmore
dam flight being our most popular. We have had fantastic support
from local Omarama businesses, who are enjoying seeing the bright red
aircraft over the town. Nick Wyngaarden has been distributing
posters around the lakeside campsites and further afield.
Fodie (co-owner of the Totara Peak gallery) and friend prior
to going on a flight to Benmore Dam with Chris.
down the Ahuriri Gorge toward the Benmore Dam.
6 December 2009
are now all go! On Friday we did a photo shoot for our brochure
with Darren flying the Ag-Cat, Nick Wyngaarden flying a Cessna
172 and Chris taking the photos from the camera ship. Bevin and Martin
Buchanan (Auckland) became our first fare-paying passengers. New signs
have gone up on the airfield and either side of Omarama.
and Martin Buchanan with pilot Darren Smith after completing
our first passenger flight on 4 December 2009
of several hundred images we got on the photo shoot.
20 November 2009
company's first major milestone is completed with the receipt
of our Air Operators Certificate from CAA! We are now all
go and can take fare-paying passengers!
3 November 2009
Civil Aviation Authority carry out their entry audit and
inspect the company's premises and aircraft. Darren and Chris
get their proficiency and route checks done by Peter Hendriks
from Classic Flights in Wanaka.
30 October 2009
Smith and Les Lamb bring the Ag-Cat down to its new home
at Omarama from Ashburton. The aircraft will be tied down
outside until the new hangar is constructed.
Ag-Cat arrives at Omarama after flying from Ashburton
on Friday 30 October 2009.
Lamb and Darren Smith after arriving at Omarama
Rudge and Les Lamb meet with Derek Kirke, Chairman of
the Pukaki Airport Board to discuss options in operating
from Pukaki Airfield.
4 October 2009
Omarama Airfield Limited provide
us with a signed copy of an Operator's Agreement so that we
can conduct commercial activities from the airfield.
8 September 2009
agree on a draft hangar design and location that meets
their and our requirements. Work commences on detailed hangar
drawings for final approval by OAL before getting a building consent.
view of the hangar proposal with a possible split
level floor. The Ag-Cat would go in the near end with
this hangar being built first.
only option left to build a hangar in time for the new
season is to start the first 10 m of a fourth hangar
that matches existing units. The difference this time around is
that OAL will allow us to build it with a north facing door, which
reduces costs significantly. On 14 August Chris meets the builder,
Paul Hunter, on site to take measurements and get levels.
Woolley and son Lachlan following some circuits
at Ashburton aerodrome on 2 August 2009
are now ready to inspect the new operation.
On 27 July, OAL finally agree on a location for the new hangar
and want it built in
what is currently a trailer park. Aviation Adventures
are asked to pay for all the development costs in opening
up this new area (cutting down trees, building a taxiway,
moving soil, sewing grass, and providing oversize water
pipes for other users). The biggest problem however is that
the area is zoned residential, which means a resource consent
is required. To get a resource consent would take over a
year and the costs would be prohibitive. On the basis of extra
costs and the time taken to get a resource consent, we reject the
visit to the Canterbury Gliding Club's airfield
at Hororata on 27 June 2009
OAL are provided photographs and plans of the
new hangar design. The company Operations Manuals are sent
Rudge and Darren Smith building up hours over the
On 19 May, Chris Rudge,
Darren Smith and Sharn Davies get ratings on the Ag-Cat
from Dave Horsburgh. On 27 May, Darren and Chris start to build
up their hours in the aircraft. To operate under Part 135 and
obtain an Air Operator's Certificate, Operations Manuals are written
in earnest so that we can begin operations in early October 2009.
Quotes are obtained to build a hangar to meet OAL's requirements
but initial quotes are double that required for a stand alone
hangar. The "glider style" hangar is rejected in favour of a free-standing
10 m x 15 m hangar to be built by Steel Build Canterbury, who
can build it during August and September and have it completed
by 1 October.
Davies briefs Darren Smith prior to his first flight. With no
dual controls, all instruction is done on the ground!
6 April Omarama Airfield Ltd confirm that they will
issue an Operator's Agreement and allow us to build a hangar
so a decision is made to set
up a new company. Aviation Adventures Ltd
is registered on 15 April and the Grumman Ag-Cat (ZK-CAT) is
purchased on the 30th.
and Irene Lamb, Chris Rudge and Darren Smith discuss
the possibility of setting up a fixed-wing scenic flight
operation using an open-cockpit Ag-Cat biplane and flying the
aircraft from Omarama. Chris Rudge and Duncan Woolley check out
the aircraft on 8 March 2009 and are taken for a flight over Ashburton
by the owner, Brent Esler.
first view of the Ag-Cat on 8 March 2009