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25 March 2013

Today we completed our first commercial banner tow over a wedding at Shelton Downs station on the shores of Lake Ohau. The banner read "SILVANA AND NEIL", the names of the bride and groom. Our Go Pro camera can now be remotely controlled to take either film or still photographs.

A still frame from our Go Pro camera's film mode showing Michael and Anne Jakobsen from Denmark on a flight yesterday.

The banner being made up in the hangar. Each letter is seven feet high.

A spectacular sunset on the Ohau Canal this evening

16 March 2013

Last week we did our first banner tow over Twizel in preparation for a display next week.

Seconds after lift off of our first banner tow from Pukaki

The view of the banner streaming 100 metres behind the aircraft with Twizel in the background.

11 March 2013

The beautiful weather continues . . . Cool mornings and balmy evenings have kept us busy flying until sunset on some days. Over the weekend we did flights as far west as Mt Barth in the Ahuriri wilderness area and as far north as the Tekapo Canal.

Exploring the glaciated Mt Barth on the Hunter Range

Jock Peter and Peter Mason, two construction workers involved in the Tekapo Canal repair after a flight yesterday.

The Tekapo Canal showing repairs underway to prevent it leaking. At top left is the canal prior to a plastic barrier going in. At right is gravel going onto the plastic to hold it in place.

Flying over Lake Ohau as the sun sets. Magic!

The Ag-Cat back in the hangar after a long day.

4 March 2013

February was another record month for us - the highest February turnover yet. We continue to receive excellent feedback. Melbourne visitor Jacob Miceli described his flight yesterday to the Glenmary Glacier and Lake Ohau with fiancee Jodi Moten as the "best experience of my life".

Flying past the Glenmary Glacier on the Neumann Range

Two classics. The replica C-Type Jaguar is owned by John Love from the UK who did a Three Lakes flight

26 February 2013

Last Thursday was one of our best this summer with local flights and a trip to Mt Cook National Park and the glaciers. Less than 48 hours after we flew over the Tasman Lake, the Tasman Glacier had the largest calving ever recorded.

Looking down the Fox Glacier on Thursday.

The view back to Mt Cook while flying over the West Coast glaciers.

Christie Eichentopf and Kevin Coniglio from Oregon USA after their Alpine Adventure. Christie use to fly light aircraft in the north-west United States.

Brent and Heather Sheridan's new Moto Guzzi Norge motorbike. Even though it is 1151cc, you would still need 14 of these motorbikes to exceed the displacement of the Ag-Cat engine!

17 February 2013

The excellent weather continues! Over the last week we have flown overseas visitors from Spain, Australia, United States and China. New Zealanders have come from Twizel, Ashburton and Timaru.

Proof that the romance of flight is still alive!

Harry and Elizabeth Mitchell from Timaru. A retired engineer, Harry was celebrating his 70th birthday.

Looking along the shores of Lake Ohau to the Ohau Skifield.

Virginia Domenech and David Garcia from Spain after a flight this afternoon.

11 February 2013

Excellent weather over the last week has seen a steady stream of visitors passing through. On Saturday, Alana Dodunski from Hinds became our youngest passenger to fly to Mount Cook and the glaciers when she did the trip with her father, Ron. Last week we also flew our youngest passengers to date - a three and a four year old from China.

Saturday's view of Mt Cook (top left) and Fox Glacier (right).

Yang Hai Tong and Zhou Kai, who flew with their mother and brother last Monday.

Three Bentleys, valued at three million dollars, pose in front of the Ag-Cat last Tuesday. The car in the middle raced on the famous Brooklands Circuit achieving a top speed of over 110 mph.

Plane Spotter Peter McSorley from the UK after a flight yesterday. The Ag-Cat was the 204th type of aircraft he has flown on!

1 February 2013

January was a record month for us - our highest turnover of any month since the company began. We also finished on a high with a flight past Mt Cook and Mt Tasman to the Fox and Franz Josef neves with Chris Tutty and Trevor Toon aboard.

Mt Tasman (left) and Mt Cook yesterday morning. For clarity, you can't beat photography from an open-cockpit aircraft.

Looking down the Fox Glacier to the Tasman Sea

Cate and Eric Laurenson after a flight they were shouted by their daughter Meg on Tuesday.

26 January 2013

Last week saw some stunning weather with blue skies, light winds and warm temperatures. We have done flights up the Hopkins Valley to the Glenmary Glacier and explored a new airstrip on the Ben Ohau Station. We also saw new brown tourist approach signs go in on the state highway.

Mackenzie Basin locals Tiggy and Simon Cameron after a flight around their farm - the Ben Ohau Station.

The Ag-Cat parked on the stunning Ben Ohau strip yesterday.

Flying up the Hopkins River in perfect conditions.

Chris and Joe Graham, visitors from Christchurch.

19 January 2013

Yesterday we had one of our biggest days this season with flights to the summit of Mt Cook and down to Benmore Dam.

Flying west of Mt Cook at 12000 feet yesterday with Jean Davias (Reunion Island) and David Benchetrit.

Lake Tasman has increased significantly in size this year compared to last. Mt Cook is at left.

Mt Cook on the evening of 14 January 2013 as viewed from Pukaki Airfield.

12 January 2013

All the lakes except Tekapo are now spilling water. One of the highlights last week was a post-flight engagement by an Austrian couple - a first for us!

Austrian client Martin proposes to Elizabeth last Sunday.

Chris and Singapore visitors Alyson Wong and Francis Lo photograph themselves in the Ag-Cat's spinner reflection after a Three Lakes flight yesterday.

Noel Pearson and Meriana Taputu-Pearson, visitors from Taupo, after a flight on Tuesday.

Water from the Tekapo and Pukaki rivers flowing into Lake Benmore near the Ohau C Power Station this afternoon.

5 January 2013

After rain on New Year's Day and the 2nd, we have been busy over the last three days with perfect weather. Today we featured on the front page of the Timaru Herald and page three of The Press  with a photo of Lake Pukaki spilling. We also flew celebrity chef Jo Seagar this afternoon.

The photo that appeared on the front page of the Timaru Herald and page 3 of The Press showing Pukaki spillway yesterday.

Celebrity chef Jo Seagar with Italian friend Marina Del Bello

Benmore Dam spilling on the 3rd January

27 December 2012

We hope everyone had a great Christmas! Over the last week we have flown overseas visitors from Ireland, Austria, the Philippines, Australia, Singapore, China and Germany.

Barth Time - Mark and Belinda Stenhouse took our Wild Wilderness flight to Mt Barth today in perfect conditions.

Sydney doctor Christopher Sulaksono with friend after a flight

An evening flight over Lake Pukaki looking toward Mt Cook

A scene from another era. Ron Duckworth's 1909 Wolseley Seddeley has seven cylinders less than our Ag-Cat!

19 December 2012

It took the New Zealand Transport Agency five months to agree on six words and Opus a further eight months to organise installation but today saw two of four signs erected on State Highway 8. What a marathon! A big thanks to Derek Kirk and Rick Ramsay of the Pukaki Airport Board for their support.

16 December 2012

Today the mercury hit 29'C, our warmest day so far this season. With excellent weather, we have had a busy week. One of the highlights was flying Matthew and Sabine Parry last Thursday on the Dambuster option after they got married in the Church of the Good Shepherd the previous day.

A future Ag-Cat pilot? Five year old William Hannon, Matthew and Sabine Parry's nephew, checks out the rear cockpit for size.

Flying over Timaru's Caroline Bay on Friday.

Looking back to Mackenzie Pass on return from Timaru. On the flight down, the ground speed was 135 knots (the Ag-Cat cruises at 80 knots). On the return, the ground speed dropped to 43 knots coming through the pass - plenty of time to enjoy the scenery!

11 December 2012

The weather has been stunning this week with long sunny days and lights winds. Over the last few days we have done flights to the Glenmary Glacier and Lakes Ohau and Pukaki.

Lake Ohau on Saturday - like a mill pond

Kelly and Jeff Gould with the "like new" overhauled propeller

5 December 2012

The Cat will be back in the air this weekend after the propeller was overhauled in Hamilton with Aeromotive prior to the busy summer season.

All growl but no teeth - the prop sitting in its box prior to going up to Hamilton for overhaul.

20 November 2012

Last week we had a solar eclipse which dimmed the sky for a couple of hours. Grass growth has really taken off and the cross vector is looking fantastic.

Looking down the Ohau Canal to Lake Benmore during a flight on Wednesday morning

An image of the solar eclipse projected onto the office wall using a monocular. The image was so clear that sunspots were visible.

13 November 2012

We had another dusting of snow on the tops two nights ago but the forecast is for plenty of sun and light  winds this week.

Patrick Coffey (left) celebrated his 80th birthday today by flying out to Lake Ohau with his son Michael. Pat use to fly gliders at nearby Simon's Hill in the 1950s.

The view of Lake Ohau Alpine Village this morning.

Looking up Lake Ohau on an evening flight with Joke Jansen and Piet Mulders from the Netherlands last Tuesday.

5 November 2012

Despite having many snowfalls last month, October was our best October on record. November has started with more snow. After snow fell on the airfield on Saturday, we were back in the air yesterday.

Barry McCallum and Denise Huisman celebrate Denise's 50th birthday yesterday.

Fresh snow on the Ben Ohau ranges yesterday morning.

Saturday morning - snow falling on the airfield!

29 October 2012

Today was busy day with five flights, a trip to Benmore and Omarama, and a visit from Pic on the Big Toaster Tour. To top it off we had the hottest temperature in the country!

Benmore Dam as seen from the Dambuster Flight option this morning

Sally and Don Lilburn at Omarama before heading off for lunch

How cool is this! On Pic's Big Toaster Tour, they toast Vogel's bread with a Dualit toaster and spread Pic's Peanut Butter on the top. That's Pic on the right of the pic.

Good Aussie nuts, freshly roasted and masterfully squashed in Sunny Nelson. Just the thing to keep a pilot going!

23 October 2012

Last week saw more snow fall and Labour weekend was windy and wet but every day brings something new, whether its visitors, a rainbow or a new chick!

A rainbow over the airfield yesterday

Eilene and Bob Andrews, visitors from the UK, after a flight out to Lake Middleton on Friday.

A Banded Dotterel chick out for a walk between snow showers

14 October 2012

Spring went out the window yesterday with heavy snow down to 2000 feet. As the weather cleared today, we had picture-postcard "winter" scenes - perfect for flying in a warm leather jacket, a rug over your legs, gloves, scarf and flying helmet!

The view of the Ben Ohau mountains this morning

Spring snow on the mountains west of the airfield

The rain radar picture of the Canterbury Plains at 3.20 pm yesterday showing heavy rain falling in Timaru (bottom left), all the way through to Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

7 October 2012

The last week has seen a mix of fine sunny days and windy weather with even a flurry of snow on the airfield! October has started well after our best September on record. Today we flew Mike Perham who, at age 14, was the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic. In 2009, age 17, he was the youngest to sail single-handed around the world.

Mike Perham is currently driving around the world prior to his next goal of flying around the world solo - in a biplane.

Typical spring conditions with a mix of fine days and showers

Mt Cook and Mts Tasman at dawn today

Michael and John Cavaye after a flight on Thursday while holidaying in New Zealand with their parents from Brisbane.

29 September 2012

The last three days have seen sunny weather and warmer temperatures - great for grass growth and even better for flying with flights every day.

Grant and Rachel Robinson from Duvauchelle enjoy a Mackenzie Magic flight this morning.

Looking up the Hopkins and Dobson valleys on Thursday with the Neumann Range in the middle distance

Keyla Costa and Christina Ferguson at Omarama for coffee and lunch at the Wrinkly Ram after a flight over the Ben Ohau Mountains and Lake Ohau.

23 September 2012

The Wings Wheels and Water event at Lake Ruataniwha was a great success yesterday. Chris displayed the Ag-Cat during the airshow and Pukaki Airport saw over 50 visiting aircraft. Today we did flights up to Pukaki and out to Lake Ohau.

An air-to-air photo of the Ag-Cat over the Pukaki River taken after the air show. Photo: John King

Some of the 50 visiting aircraft parked on the cross vector

14 September 2012

The new summer season is now underway. Chris flew the Ag-Cat south two days ago, just a day after they were clearing snow off the runway in Queenstown! The spring snowfall has left the Mackenzie Basin looking pristine.

The Ag-Cat back at Pukaki. The snow in the distance is on Mt Maud, part of the Two Thumb Range near Burkes Pass.

Crossing the Geraldine River on the one hour flight south from Ashburton to Pukaki

Looking across the Mackenzie Basin toward Mackenzie Pass

1 September 2012

Spring arrived today with mild weather and we did three flights from Ashburton including one to Geraldine. Next Saturday we head back to Pukaki Airport for summer.

Robert Johnson and Michael Bartlett heading out on a flight over their farms to Geraldine today.

28 August 2012

Today we did a nice flight out to the Pacific coast and Waterton with Richard Scott and Anne-Gaelle Villacroux.

Looking out over the Pacific Ocean near Waterton on Saturday

19 August 2012

Last week we had a lot of rain in Canterbury but the weekend weather was suitable for flying. As we near spring, we are starting to get more bookings and enquiries which is great! Roll on the warm weather!

Paul Fraser and grandson Alex, both from Winchester, about to head away on a flight this afternoon.

12 August 2012

For those wanting something to do over the last month of winter, we suggest a day out at the Ashburton Aviation Museum. In addition to being able to fly in the Ag-Cat, you can see the museum's latest acquisition, an Aermacchi trainer, which is now fully assembled.

The Ashburton Aviation Museum's Aermacchi trainer sitting in front of an A-4 Skyhawk at the museum yesterday.

31 July 2012

Sunny and warm conditions on Saturday saw three flights from Ashburton. The Ag-Cat will remain in Ashburton until September, when we return to our base at Pukaki.

Ashburton Aerodrome with Mt Hutt in the distance at left.

Mike Sheridan and Craig Philip about to head away on a Town and Around flight.

Looking across the Canterbury Plains to Banks Peninsula

Jeanette and Chris Price after their flight

23 July 2012

Chris, Tarn and Tara returned from two weeks holiday in the south-west USA today. Aviation highlights included driving through the "Boneyard" in Tucson and visiting the Pima, Milestones of Flight, Planes of Fame, Castle and Titan Missile museums. Chris also visited Edwards Air Force Base and got to fly an LS4 glider at El Tiro glider port.

The carcass of a Voodoo fighter lying in the Mojave desert at Edwards Air Force Base. The air temperature was over 40'C.

RD4's (Navy versions of the C-47/DC3) located in a scrap yard adjacent to the Davis-Monthan "Boneyard" in Tucson, Arizona.

A Titan II missile sitting in an underground silo south of Tucson. When operational, it could carry a 9 megaton warhead - 560 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Thankfully this one is just a museum piece!

Chris after landing at El Tiro glider port. The glider was kindly loaned by USA friend Scott Jones - thanks Scott!

A front-on view of a Cold War B-36 inter-continental strategic bomber - the largest combat aircraft ever built. One of only four survivors, this one is located at Castle Air Museum, California.

5 June 2012

Yesterday the Red Cat was the lead story in The Press "Escape" supplement newspaper - an excellent article written by David Killick who flew with us from Pukaki.

The article by David Killick in The Press newspaper

Malcolm Watson, who works for Air New Zealand Engineering, after a flight on the Saturday of Queen's Birthday weekend.

26 May 2012

Another good day at Ashburton today. The Ashburton Aviation Museum acquired an ex-RNZAF Aermacchi and an ex-Burmese Air Force Mk 53 Percival Provost last week. If you are looking for something to do this winter, come and check out the huge collection of aircraft the museum now has, including an RNZAF Skyhawk acquired last year.

The Ag-Cat after the last flight of the day

Evan Swan and Christine Topham rugged up and raring to go

20 May 2012

The winter season at Ashburton is now well underway with good weather and mild temperatures. On Thursday CAA extended the company's Air Operator Certificate for five years following a successful re-entry inspection last week.

Today we had the honour of flying 89-year old Bill Paterson. Bill worked as a leading aircraftman for the RNZAF maintaining Tiger Moth biplanes at Ashburton Aerodrome 70 years ago!

Mother and daughter Susanna Conradie and Marelize Febervee, from South Africa, prior to a flight this afternoon.

Flying over the Ashburton Domain and the central town area at lunchtime today.

2 May 2012

And so ends a fantastic season! Despite the global recession and a 25% downturn in Canterbury tourism, we have ended the summer season on a high with an increase in revenue and passengers flown compared to last summer. In April we were up over 50% on the same month last year! Today, Chris flew the Ag-Cat up to Ashburton, where it will remain until mid-September.

Aoraki Mt Cook at 7.20 am this morning. This is the view from our section at Pukaki Airport. The air temperature was -6'C!

With the first snows arriving, its time to head north. Photo taken yesterday - our last day of the season.

Chris flying the Ag-Cat up the Canterbury Plains to Ashburton for winter. What a stunning day!

22 April 2012

The beautiful autumn weather continues. Recent flights have included a photo shoot of a local station and heading out to Mt Barth on the Wild Wilderness option.

The southern face of Mt Barth on a flight with Graeme and Shirley Slatter, residents at Mt Cook village.

Looking down on the historic Benmore Station with the trees in their autumn colours.

The view back up the Ohau canal from the Ohau A power station with the Ben Ohau mountains in the distance.

Tiare Barlow with his grandmother and Twizel resident Dawn Lavery about to head away on an evening flight.

16 April 2012

The morning's are now getting a little cooler but the fine weather has returned after a day of rain last week.

The Glenmary Glacier with fresh snow on the tops during a flight with Emma Trick and Ian Pendle on Saturday.

Playing Biggles beats watching The Wiggles

The new sign on the hangar

8 April 2012

The end of March and the first week of April has seen the best weather of the season with lots of sunshine, little wind and flights every day. Yesterday Tarn, Tara and Chris flew to Wanaka for the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow. What a great day! Today we did seven flights after the fog cleared just before noon.

Departing from Wanaka after the show. Photo: James Williamson.

Tara and Tarn at Warbirds over Wanaka yesterday

A P-51 Mustang flies below a smoke ring during the mock airfield attack

The Ag-Cat in the Display Park alongside North American Harvards and de Havilland Tiger Moths

The Ag-Cat parked opposite to a Mk IX Spitfire

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