To catch up on the latest developments with Aviation Adventures Limited and our Red Cat Biplane Flights operation, this is the place to come!

Check out the video of the two-minute TV3 news story! Just click here! For the Ashburton TV You Tube video, please click here!

27 March 2011

March has turned out to be one of the best months of the season with excellent weather and steady numbers of tourists through. This week saw the release of the Canon commercial featuring the Ag-Cat. To view this on You Tube, please click here!

A frame from the new Canon commercial shot by The Shooting Gallery Asia

Eric Flavell, a retired undertaker from Taihape, about to head away on a flight to Lake Benmore.

The colour of Lake Benmore is slowly returning to its more turquoise hue but some passengers have described the current colour as milky peppermint.

Alan and Kathy Ventress, who flew to Benmore Dam on 23 March in perfect weather.

Light winds have made March an excellent month for flights. Water is still being spilt regularly from Benmore Dam.

13 March 2011

Despite the recent earthquakes in Christchurch and Lyttelton, the numbers flying during March have been excellent and in the first 10 days of the month we exceeded the total number that flew in March last year.  Another bonus this month was being featured in The New Zealand Adventure Guide, a high quality large format book covering the best adventure activities in the country. Red Cat Biplane flights was the ONLY scenic flight company (other than skydiving and heli combos) included in the guide!

The New Zealand Adventure Guide.

Snow on the mountains north-west of Omarama on the morning of 6 March 2011. The snow quickly melted and the weather since then has been sunny with light winds on most days.

Duncan (age 80) and Noeline McGregor, visitors from Southland, after a flight in perfect weather on 9 March 2011

24 February 2011

Disaster struck Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February with a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. Sadly, many people were killed. The epicentre was Lyttelton - my home. Fortunately my wife and daughter were not hurt. I felt the earthquake in Omarama and left immediately to head home and help. The contents of our house were trashed and we have suffered structural damage to exterior walls - something we avoided in the initial earthquake on 4 September last year. The force of this earthquake was estimated as being three times as strong for Lyttelton as the first earthquake. We now have power on but the clean up will take days, particularly since we have no water. While I am away, Darren Smith will continue flying the Ag-Cat from Omarama, which is 250 km away from Christchurch. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

A flattened car on Norwich Quay, Lyttelton. Television New Zealand published this photo on their website.

This is the view of Oxford Street. All of Lyttelton's historic buildings will have been damaged. This and other buildings will have to be demolished. The town will never be the same again.

This is what our kitchen looked like after the quake struck. The microwave was thrown off the fridge, which has emptied its contents onto the kitchen floor.

The library with over 500 books piled on the floor. My wife escaped this room with seconds to spare when the quake hit.

My daughter Tara cooking breakfast on the barbecue the day after the earthquake. At this point we had no power. Water is still out and it may take weeks to repair broken mains.

10 February 2011

Today was another highlight of the season - a flight in perfect weather along the summit ridge of Aoraki Mt Cook with two clients from Austria. With Chris as pilot, everyone had multiple layers of clothing on due to the near-zero temperatures. What an adventure in an open-cockpit biplane!

The approach to Aoraki Mt Cook from the south. What a view!

Aoraki Mt Cook from the north.

Approaching the summit ridge.

6 February 2011

With the school holidays now over, things are a bit quieter around the airfield but an increasing number of overseas tourists are now flying. This week we flew Murray and Pam Taylor, well-known Omarama identities who own the Four Square Supermarket in town.

Perfect weather for scenic flying - the air doesn't get much clearer than this!

After rains around Christmas, the colour of Lake Benmore is slowly returning to a more turquoise hue, although it is still very milky in appearance.

Well-known Omarama identities, Pam and Murray Taylor, after their flight on Friday.

23 January 2011

Today was our most productive day ever with flights to  the Clay Cliffs and Benmore Dam, as well as completing a film commercial for a Singaporean company. The film location was the glaciated Mt Bath on the Hunter Ridge and involved a helicopter doing air-to-air shots, as well as using two aircraft-mounted cameras. The scenery was spectacular!

Some of the Shooting Gallery film crew after we had completed filming.

North side of Mt Bath, photographed from down in the Ahuriri valley. What a great day for filming!

Looking back up the Ahuriri River after dropping down from the 8000 foot high Mt Bath.

Preparing the Ag-Cat for filming. At front, Mike Jarman talks to Jamie (pilot for Tekapo Helicopters) and Rolland, New Zealand agent for the Shooting Gallery.

Nigel Ackroyd, member of the Canterbury Gliding Club and dentist extraordinaire, about to head off on the Dambuster Special. He was smiling before he had even left the ground!

12 January 2011

Busy, busy, busy. The Christmas and New Year period has been marked with a few days of rain but fine weather in between has kept Chris and Mike busy. Flight numbers are up on last season and locals in particular have been enjoying the opportunity of doing some open-cockpit biplane flying.

The Ahuriri River in flood.

Blair and Olivia, who have a holiday home in Omarama, after a flight to the Clay Cliffs. Olivia thought the experience was "awesome!".

Spilling from Benmore Dam. This photo now features on the Television New Zealand News website.

26 December 2010

The Ag-Cat recently flew to Timaru for its 50-hour inspection prior to the busy holiday period from Boxing Day until the end of February. Flying conditions have remained good and the Dambuster Special flight is proving our most popular.

The guys at Avtek tuning the engine on 16 December

Three skylark chicks in a nest by the hangar

12 December 2010

On Saturday 11 December, Chris and Mike operated from the Waimate Airfield doing flights over the Waimate Strawberry Fare. An estimated 14,000 people went to the event. Thanks to Charles, Mark and Ross of the Waimate Aero Club for their hospitality.

Flying to Waimate on Saturday morning

Flying down the lower Waitaki Valley. What a day!

View of the Ag-Cat from the Waimate Aero Club clubrooms.

Mike Jarman after flying our first passengers at Waimate. Pictured with Mike are Maureen Fuller and Barbara Basford.

Jasmine Johnstone (age 22) and Eugene Gillian after their flight at Waimate. The flight was Jasmine's very first in an aircraft! Why fly on a Boeing when you can go on a biplane!

Heading off for another flight with kids and families looking on.

The Aviation Adventures Ltd hangar at Omarama with grass now grown around the apron area

5 December 2010

Over the past two weeks visitor numbers have picked up. Chris flew the Ag-Cat to Pukaki on 27 November for the Mackenzie Mistletoe Market. The children and parents from the local kindergarten had built a Christmas float of the biplane, so it was nice to fly overhead for the parade. Mike Jarman has rejoined the team after returning from flying in Australia.

Trips to Benmore Dam are proving to be our most popular flight option. The colour of the water in Lake Benmore is stunning.

The Ag-Cat at Pukaki Airfield. The air temperature was over 30'C - perfect for open cockpit flying!

Maurya and Sanhita Pydah, the company's first passengers to fly from Pukaki Airfield. They enjoyed a 15 minute flight over Lake Pukaki and the town of Twizel.

22 November 2010

Things have been busy at Omarama recently with the South Island Regional Gliding Championships being held over the last week that saw over 30 gliders getting airborne on most days. Likewise, the Ag-Cat has been flying on most days too, with both Chris and Darren doing flights. One couple from Sussex (UK) described their biplane flight as the "highlight of their holiday!".

Chris Rudge heads off on another scenic flight out of Omarama. The aircraft sounds as good as it looks! Photo: Geoff Soper.

Jackie and Roger from the UK. Their biplane flight to Benmore Dam was the "highlight of their holiday!"

Gliders lined up prior to getting airborne in the South Island Regional Gliding Championships

6 November 2010

The weather in Omarama over the last two weeks has been superb - more like late summer than early spring. With plenty of sunshine, the grass has been growing nicely around the hangar and the office is now almost ready for the season ahead.

Naoko Fukuhara and Steve Brown after the first flight for the season from Omarama.

A visiting car club used the Ag-Cat as a backdrop for taking photos over Labour Weekend. The car is actually older than the aircraft!

A 1972 ad for a Dodge Charger seen on eBay two weeks AFTER the top photo was taken. You would think we had seen the ad first, not the other way around!

Darren Smith warms up the Pratt and Whitney Wasp Junior prior to doing an annual check with Peter Hendriks.

18 October 2010

Winter operations at Ashburton ended in fine style on Saturday with a couple of flights. It has been a fantastic six months - thanks to the huge support from the guys and gals of the Ashburton Aviation Museum who made me so welcome. Today the Cat flew to Omarama for the summer season.

Heading south from Ashburton to Omarama for summer

Flying through the Mackenzie Pass

The Ag-Cat in her new purpose-built hangar for the first time

The Cat looking forward to working in the Mackenzie Basin for another season.

14 October 2010

This week the hangar flloor received three coats of Epotread floor sealer. Aviation Adventures has also bought a Portacabin building for use as an office.

New Portacabin purchased for use as an office

Three coats of a two-pot paint now cover the hangar floor at Omarama

6 October 2010

Over the last week the weather has been perfect for flying with light winds and sunny skies. On Saturday Kerry Ford and Hamish Foote enjoyed a Faultline Flight and on Wednesday Bob Healey and Ray Leslie enjoyed our first "after work" flight - possible now with daylight saving.

View showing hedge displaced after earthquake and farmers ploughing the cracked ground prior to sowing grass for stock.

Kerry Ford and Hamish Foote after the Faultline Flight
Photo: Abby Foote

Evening flight over Lake Hood

29 September 2010

Interest in the Faultline Flight has been strong with several bookings and vouchers being purchased. If you are interested in this flight option, we recommend booking soon. This week landscaping was completed around the new hangar in Omarama and grass has been sown.

Darren Smith giving Chris a hand to prepare the area around the hangar apron for sowing grass seed.

The finished apron area after landscaping and seed sowing.

24 September 2010

Matt Salthouse and Tina Briggs were the winners of the Trade Me auctions to raise funds for an earthquake charity. Aviation Adventures donated $545.00 towards St John, an organisation that played such an important role during the Canterbury earthquake. Matt and Tina had their one hour flight on Tuesday in great flying conditions. To see the full story in Wednesday's Timaru Herald, please click here!

Looking down on the faultline. It runs from left to right and you can see the two hedges offset. At left the farmer has grazed up to the fault scarp using electric fences - hence the colour change.

Flying back to Ashburton from the earthquake zone

Tina Briggs and Matt Salthouse after the Faultline Flight

The view Brad and Jenny McCubbin (Melbourne, Australia) enjoyed over Mt Hutt on Thursday afternoon.

19 September 2010

Last week ZK-CAT had a holiday in Timaru while it received some new paint to the tailplane. Yesterday we called in to see Russell and Lynda Brodie at their Rangitata Island home, where they have an airfield.  It was a fantastic spring day with only light winds, although it blew a bit later in the day at Ashburton. Today the weather got even better.

Red Cat, black cat. Russell Brodie at Rangitata Island with his cat "Moth".

Spring sunshine at Rangitata Island

Flying north of Timaru - a great day!

Graham and Hec enjoying the south Canterbury countryside as we fly toward Ashburton. What a view!

Robert Pulham and Lorna McVeigh after their flight on Sunday.

12 September 2010

What a week! Since last Saturday's earthquake, we have had over 300 aftershocks. Compared to others, we were lucky - no damage to the aircraft or hangar at Ashburton and only minor damage to home in Lyttelton, Christchurch. To help those worse off, Aviation Adventures is running an online charity auction to support victims of the Christchurch Earthquake. Up for auction is a one-hour flight along the faultline (press "Scenic Flights" button at left to see details). To bid on the auction, please click here.

This photo clearly shows movement along the fault trace with a hedge and wheel tracks from a fertiliser truck displaced sideways. Photo: Geonet

1 September 2010

Spring has now arrived and the days are getting warmer. At the end of August, the area around the Omarama hangar was prepared for pouring the concrete apron, soaks pits were added and low points were filled with soil prior to seed sowing. The weather on Wednesday was perfect for a trip to Mount Hutt and Chris flew two Spanish visitors over the skifield (which they had been skiing on the day before). It was a great adventure!

Flying over Mount Hutt Skifield.

Looking south-west to Mount Somers.

Huskun Martinez and Jesus Posada from Spain after their adventure in the Red Cat.

The apron boxed and ready for concrete.

The Ag-Cat at Ashburton with a north-west sky.

6 August 2010

The flashings have now been added to the hangar at Omarama and the door installation is complete. On Wednesday the company went front page of the Timaru Herald regarding a story about advertising on State Highway One. The best bit was a photograph of the DC3 cockpit with the 0800 phone number on the side which was circulated region wide!

Now that has to be a hangar view that's hard to beat!

This view shows how the hangar door folds upwards.

Russell Davies (middle) and Graham Gilbert (right) after a recent flight over Ashburton in the Ag-Cat.

Front page of the Timaru Herald - great advertising!

15 July 2010

This week saw some fantastic coverage of the Red Cat in the Pacific Wings magazine and also on Ashburton TV. To see the Ashburton TV story on You Tube, please click the link here!

The article in the July edition of Pacific Wings

12 July 2010

Things have continued to remain busy with flights every day the museum is open. The new hangar at Omarama is now enclosed with the door fitted. Some flashings still require fitting and the concrete apron is awaiting warmer weather before pouring. When that is done the site can be cleaned up and grass sown.

Tara and Stephanie over Ashburton on Wednesday.

The new hangar is located to the east the existing hangars. Although higher, it was built to match the current designs by having a five degree pitch to the roof and corrugated iron attached horizontally to the east and west walls.

Interior of hangar. The door hinges horizontally in two sections and folds upwards which does away with the need for external tracks and posts.

4 July 2010

A new record! The weekend of the 3rd and 4th July was the busiest yet for the company with 18 passengers flown in perfect conditions - clear skies, no wind and mild temperatures. On Saturday the Cat ran continuously from noon until 5.00 pm.

Perfect winter flying weather at Ashburton!

27 June 2010

This week saw the new hangar at Omarama being erected. With plenty of snow about, conditions were not exactly ideal but the builders battled the conditions to get the building ready for spring.

How the hangar looked on Wednesday 23 June. Photo: Paul Hunter

A view looking south. This is the front, which faces north. Photo: Paul Hunter

20 June 2010

Conditions have been ideal for flying lately and yesterday was no exception with a couple of flights being done over Ashburton and Lake Hood in smooth air. For those wanting to fly over Mt Hutt skifield, we now have that option available for $395.00 per person. Local flights are still just $135.00 each.

Evening flight over Ashburton looking towards Mount Hutt

Margaret and Neil McConachie prior to a Town and Around flight

The Cat sharing space with DC3 ZK-AMY in the Ashburton Aviation Museum display hangar after a day's flying.

31 May 2010

Aviation Adventures went front page of the South Island's biggest newspaper today. The Press ran a photo of the Ag-Cat over Benmore Dam on the front page of the paper, as well as on the front page of the lift-out Escape travel supplement!
24 May 2010

The weather has remained a bit damp for flying but on Saturday the sun was shinning and 87 year old Jim MacDonald, who use to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes during WWII, enjoyed a flight in the Cat. On Sunday, Chris flew two farm workers over the farm they had been living on east of Hinds - a shout from the owners prior to them working on another farm near Mayfield. For further details on Jim's wartime career, please click  here.

Jim Macdonald and Robin Corbett prior to the flight

19 May 2010

Recent rain and low cloud has put a bit of a damper on flying but the good news this week was Robin Corbett finished the sign writing on the DC3 cockpit so that it can now go out on State Highway One to advertise biplane flights and the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

Robin Corbett proudly stands in front of the DC3 cockpit after sign writing was completed.

The DC3 cockpit with the Ag-Cat in the Ashburton Aviation Museum's Display Hangar.

8 May 2010

Business is picking up with flights on most days and some advanced bookings. Jim Chivers (with help from Danny) finished painting the DC3 cockpit over the weekend in preparation for sign writing. The Ag-Cat is also looking great after the top wing surface got a cut and polish (a six hour job, which isn't easy with the wing 3.3 metres off the ground!).

Jim Chivers removing masking from the windows after painting of the DC3 cockpit was completed.

Another Jim Chivers masterpiece! What a smart job!

Richard Sorbian and wife Fiona sent us this lovely picture after flying with us and touring New Zealand on their motorbikes prior to returning to Tasmania. See you again in the spring!

28 April 2010

Progress has been steady in setting up the winter operation from the Ashburton Aviation Museum. The Museum committee has voted in favour of supporting the Red Cat operation and the Ag-Cat will be hangared in the Museum's Display Hangar. The Ashburton Guardian ran a story on Aviation Adventure's biplane flights on Monday morning after Chris flew reporter Lance Isbister and photographer Kirsty Graham last week. On Tuesday Aviation Adventures passed its six-monthly CAA audit with flying colours. This means our Air Operator's Certificate will now be approved for two years, prior to another audit and a further extension of five years.

Chris's DC3 is now ready for painting red by Jim Chivers. Once that is completed, signs will be applied and the cockpit will go out on Highway One to advertise biplane flights and the museum.

18 April 2010

Autumn operations have now started from Ashburton Aerodrome and the Ag-Cat has received a lot of interest from locals. The guys from the Ashburton Aviation Museum have been hugely supportive. On Sunday, Richie McCaw arrived at the aerodrome with a bunch of kids who flew down from Christchurch on the Southern DC3 Trust's ZK-AMY. As well as people flying on the Ag-Cat, Les Vincent took a number of the kids for a flight in Devon ZK-XNZ.

The Ag-Cat outside the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

Birds of a feather . .

The Southern DC3 Trust's ZK-AMY "Lady Jane".

To see what was new from April 2009 to April 2010, please click here.