Air NZ exhibition marks journey through time

Jet set: Te Papa lead curator Lynette Townsend with a jet engine for Air New Zealand’s 75th anniversary exhibition, ...
MAARTEN HOLL

Jet set: Te Papa lead curator Lynette Townsend with a jet engine for Air New Zealand’s 75th anniversary exhibition, which opens tomorrow. Exhibits have been gathered from across the country.

A glimpse of the future - cabin seats turned into deckchairs on a Fijian beach through virtual reality - complements the past at Te Papa's latest exhibition.

Air New Zealand's 75th anniversary show launches tomorrow at the national museum.

It tells the story of the airline and its predecessors - TEAL and NAC - while also offering a vision of what air travel could be like in a few years.

SKY RETRO: An original NAC uniform from 1970.
MAARTEN HOLL

SKY RETRO: An original NAC uniform from 1970.

A futuristic cabin has been created using Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. It showcases how digital technology could be used to customise surroundings on a flight in the future.

The cabin turns into a New Zealand forest scene complete with kereru, tui and a moa flying or running around.

The headset allows one to look in any direction and see something different, as if really being there. It then turns the cabin into a Fijian beach and finally into the Shanghai waterfront during New Year fireworks.

Air New Zealand head of global brand Jodi Williams said the virtual reality experience came about after a visit to overseas museums.

"It was really important to leave a sense of momentum for the future and innovation," she said. "What would a future cabin look like? Our IT team has already started working with Oculus Rift on virtual reality so we put the two together."

Production studio Waxeye created the experience, with Air New Zealand staff.

Oculus is not about to become standard on Air NZ flights but anything was possible in the future, Williams said.

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"We've already seen how fast digital is evolving. For me the [exciting] thing is the ability to control your own space, having more ability to tailor your experience."

The exhibition includes a replica cabin from a Solent flying boat, which used to serve the Coral Route to the Pacific Islands, put together with help from set designer Philip Ivey.

A special section deals with the Erebus, Perpignan and Kaimai Range disasters. There is also a stripped-down jet engine, uniforms and artefacts from the past 75 years, including little ceramic houses filled with whisky, given as gifts on 747 flights.

Te Papa lead curator Lynette Townsend said it had been a collaborative effort between the airline and the museum.

Exhibits had been gathered from across the country, including the propeller, drive shaft and motor from Kiwi aviation pioneer Richard Pearse's craft.

 - The Dominion Post

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