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A cameo for Wills in Jackson film?

KEVIN NORQUAY
Last updated 08:35 11/04/2014
DANIEL GALVIN/Fairfax NZ

Prince William tries out a World War I bi-plane during a tour of Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

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OPINION: The Duke of Cambridge lit up at the sight of the Kiwi director's war planes, reports Kevin Norquay.

Watching Sir Peter Jackson intently filming Prince William on his mobile at the controls of his World War I biplane in Blenheim, it was easy to have flights of fancy. What if?

What if two truths do combine to make a third? Work through this flawless logic: Wills looks good in planes; Jackson is making a film about planes; so Wills could get offered a cameo in Jackson's remake of World War II epic, The Dam Busters. Who knows?

The prince loves pottering about in planes. He flew helicopters for the Royal Air Force and started out on fixed wing planes. For security reasons, his wings have been clipped of late. But the passion remains.

His eyes lit up at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre yesterday, as he peppered the equally passionate Jackson with questions in the centre's museum, then grabbed the controls of aircraft outside.

He got along with Jackson like dambusters. The director is chairman of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Trust, and owns several vintage aircraft.

In a double-breasted jacket and tan trousers, Jackson strolled around his prize exhibits with a hand in his pocket, reeling off historical facts and insight.

William opted for the Sopwith Pup, a WWI RAF warhorse from 1916, not the black German Fokker Triplanthat made life a misery for the RAF late in the war.

"Fine by me, start 'er up, " he laughed as he took controls of the Pup, staying there as his wife Catherine waited under her umbrella for her flyboy to land .

It was the day the royal tour took flight, after several days rolling along the runway. Wills played pilot, Prince George was gifted a replica leather aviation helmet, and Kate sent hearts soaring in her first public walkabout in New Zealand.

An estimated 5000 people turned up at Seymour Square in central Blenheim to see the royals. They drove four hours from Greymouth, a little less far from Nelson; there was a teenager from Australia. One person in eight from Blenheim was there, and in the nearby shops others bemoaned being trapped in retail land when most of their potential customers were royal-watching.

Crowds lined the security fencing, five deep. To get a better view, they trampled through the square's gardens, climbed into trees, or turned up hours early to stake their claim in the royal gold rush.

Across the road at the Marlborough District Council buildings, the windows were lined with onlookers, in what might have been called a Scotsman's Stand, had the square had an admission charge. Alongside, the Millennium Art Gallery might as well have closed, its steps were crammed with onlookers.

It took guile and rat-like cunning to get the best viewing spot. Women held most of the cards, laying down a royal flush and getting a handshake and a kindly word from the duchess.

A tip for royal spectators

Here's the tip for those thinking of popping along to Auckland, Cambridge, Dunedin, Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington on the last six days of the tour - check the ground surface.

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If you want to see Kate, stake out the side nearest the footpath, if you're a Wills-watcher, take the grassy side - Kate won't venture there in high heels.

Today it's off to Auckland, where the duke and duchess will race each other in America's Cup yachts. Of the pair, Kate is by far the most experienced sailor - if Jackson decides to make a pirate movie, she could be in. 

- National

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