Pilot flying low to grab cash for cancer
Nelson man Flight Lieutenant Andrew Day will be piloting a different kind of aircraft when he takes part in the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari.
Andrew will be riding a 50cc scooter - resembling an old fighter plane, complete with turning propeller - a gruelling 250km from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur's Pass.
Team Red Baron aim to leave Christchurch at sunrise on Saturday and hope to make it to Hokitika in time to see the sunset over the Tasman Sea on Saturday night.
Andrew found the scooter in poor condition at the back of a hangar at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base at Ohakea. He has nursed the bike back to life over six months and invested his own time and money getting it ready for the safari.
He said it had been "a learning curve" but "a lot of fun".
The scooter's engine has been fully reconditioned and new electrics put in. He has been helped by a mate and given advice and guidance by base mechanics.
The scooter, a 1983 Honda Beat, was first used in a mopedathon - a novelty bike race held years ago at Ohakea. The scooter's wings were made from moulds taken from old Sioux helicopter blades; aluminum was wrapped around the blades to get the exact shape.
The bike engine is water-cooled and the bike is fully roadworthy and registered.
To look the part Andrew has an old sheepskin-lined leather bomber jacket, goggles, flying gloves, a white scarf and a German helmet.
Team members have their own flying badge or patch - with the Red Baron's famous words "camouflage is for sissies" on it.
Andrew said the phrase was a challenge the Red Baron issued to others and a challenge was what the safari was about.
He is under taking the fundraiser with two fellow pilots from Ohakea and his older brother Matt. They are not entering under the Air Force banner but as a personal challenge.
Andrew says the three do not intend to give up, unless the bike does. They will push and pull the bike across Arthur's Pass if they have to.
Windy conditions could be their biggest problem.
"This is one time we do not want wind over our wings," Andrew said.
The scooter is now in Nelson where Andrew's father Mike Day has given the bike a buff and pamper in the "Day spa".
Mike will take the scooter to Christchurch with a couple of friends - including a mechanic - and will be support crew for the event.
Andrew heads overseas for several weeks soon after the event finishes, so the scooter will be brought back to Nelson.
He plans on keeping the scooter in good condition and to use it around the base.
He has already been asked to ride it in the Kids Christmas Parade for the Wellington Children's Hospital in December. His parents Mike and Christine on the other hand would like to take it on their next holiday to Rarotonga.
Visit fundraiseonline.co.nz/ RedBaron/ to donate to the cause.
HOW IT WORKS
The Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari raises funds for the New Zealand Cancer Society. Scooter riders cover the tough 250km from Christchurch to Greymouth in an event billed as the "coldest, longest, hardest, most gruelling and uncomfortable test of endurance on a city scooter". The event, which aims to raise money and awareness for cancer sufferers, started in 2009 and is now held biennially. In 2012 $245,000 was raised for the society.
See scootersafari.co.nz for more information.