Pain of leaving Kapiti soothed by beauty of Wellington Gliding Club's new Wairarapa home
Leaving their home airfield was a wrench for the Wellington Gliding Club, but the spectacular views above their new Wairarapa base are easing the pain.
After 51 years based at Paraparaumu Airport, the club takes up residence in its new, state-of-the-art gliding centre of excellence in Greytown on Saturday.
It will share the Greytown Soaring Centre with Gliding Wairarapa, and Martinborough instructor David Hirst said the newcomers seemed thrilled with their new "playground".
"They've just loved it, they've been like kids on holiday."
The move made sense for both clubs, he said, with Wairarapa benefiting from access to more resources and experience, and Wellington getting relief from increasing restrictions and costs at Paraparaumu airport.
Kevin Clark, a long-time instructor at the Wellington club, agreed.
"It was becoming a pain in the neck to fly there [Paraparaumu] - it's going to be a lot freer."
Wairarapa's "vast landscapes" and unique geographic and atmospheric features made it an exciting place to glide.
Clark did admit to some nostalgia at farewelling Paraparaumu, where he had flown for 39 years.
"It's a bit of a wrench."
The Tui Award-winning jazz musician decided to mark one of the last flights over Paraparaumu with a free concert for residents on his trumpet, played through the glider's ventilation hatch during low passes.
His renditions of "Auld Lang Syne" and "Come Fly With Me" were clearly audible from the ground.
"I've played that little mini-trumpet in all sorts of places around the world, and that was somewhere else I've always wanted to play it."
Another pilot had the glider's controls at the time, he said.
"You're not allowed to text and drive, so playing a trumpet while flying a glider is not on."
The club's four gliders were flown over the Tararua Range to the Papawai airfield outside Greytown at Easter.
A new hangar and soaring centre headquarters will be officially opened in a ceremony on Saturday.