Batten plane lands - but will it stay?
Blue skies in Te Anau provided perfect conditions for the arrival of a DC3 retracing the landmark 22,000 kilometre trip made by Kiwi aviator Jean Batten 76 years ago.
The restored Airscapade was greeted by crowds, a haka, and spraying fire hoses when it landed safely in Te Anau yesterday.
Owner Mark Oremland, who also owns Te Anau Lodge, said it was the welcome the plane should have had in Auckland on November 14, and it was great to see the community turn out to see the end of the 24-day journey from England to New Zealand.
Now the challenge was to keep the plane in Southland, he said.
Based in France, Mr Oremland said he would stay in New Zealand for 10 days while the future of the plane was discussed.
It was not clear if the the plane would stay in Te Anau, or be sold elsewhere, he said.
The costs of the journey had been more than anticipated and he hoped to sell the plane in the next week.
"The challenge of [the trip] was peanuts compared to the challenge it will be to keep the Airscapade in Southland."
He declined to say how much he paid for the plane or maintenance costs, but said de-icing alone cost $100,000.
The three-week venture recreated Batten's record-breaking flight in 1936, when she became the first person to fly from England to New Zealand, finishing in 11 days and 45 minutes.
Her record from Lympne to Auckland was unbroken for many years.
Batten's image is on the tail of the Airscapade DC3, which Destination Fiordland said earlier this month they hoped would be used for scenic flights over Fiordland.
Pilot Christiaan Goezinne - one of five to pilot the plane - said the only significant hiccup was a cracked cylinder that was repaired at Hervey Bay before a flight to Norfolk Island. This caused delays and they landed at 11pm.
Mr Oremland said the Norfolk Island landing had been "challenging."
The Southland Times