Daredevil granddad goes to new heights

18:01, Feb 27 2013
HIGH FLYING: William Mackay, 89, glided at 2500 feet above Manawatu for 30 minutes.

An 89-year-old daredevil who became one of Gliding Manawatu's oldest ever flyers reckons there's plenty of new experiences left in him yet.

In glorious Sunday sunshine William Mackay took off from Taonui Aerodrome and glided at 2500 feet above Manawatu for 30 minutes.

The first-timer struggled when asked to take the controls, but said the experience itself was fantastic.

"The view up there was amazing.  I like looking down at all the little people," Mackay said.

"I got a little shot at trying to fly it but I don't think I was very good.  

"I'm definitely glad I wasn't up there by myself.


"The pilot was mentioning all these things about thermals and I thought he was talking about my underwear."

A WWII veteran, Mackay had never flown a plane until last year when he got up in a micro-light.

But he has always been a fan of flying and so he was perfectly happy to get airborne when his family "forced" him to give gliding a go.

"I tried to get into the Air Force as a fighter pilot during the war.

"Luckily they didn't let me in because I wasn't very good at navigating.

"It's probably a good thing they didn't, because I don't think I'd be here now if they did."

He now wants to try out a few more daredevil activities before he "spills his chips", particularly ones that involve flying.

Mackay's granddaughter Kelly Barnett said Mackay was always full of surprises.

"I don't think I would be able to push him out of a plane that high but I reckon he'd be able to handle doing a flip next time."

Manawatu Standard