Pilot sets out on flight of passage

23:30, Dec 29 2011
AIMING HIGH: Cambridge woman Chloe Milne is trying to land at 21 runways around New Zealand to celebrate her 21st birthday.
AIMING HIGH: Cambridge woman Chloe Milne is trying to land at 21 runways around New Zealand to celebrate her 21st birthday.

The rite of passage for many 21-year-olds is 21 shots or perhaps a symbolic key to adulthood, but a Cambridge woman has set her sights much higher.

Sky high, in fact.

Weather and plane maintenance permitting, former St Peter's Cambridge student Chloe Milne, who turned 21 on November 21, has embarked on a "flight of passage" this week, by setting out to land at 21 runways around New Zealand.

Late yesterday, Miss Milne was preparing to leave Christchurch Airport for Invercargill as she continued on her ambitious mission.

Miss Milne gained her private pilot licence from the Waikato Aero Club earlier this month, but the plan to fly the length and breadth of New Zealand has been under way for a year.

"I wanted to do something adventurous to celebrate the big day, something I would remember for the rest of my life," she said.

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Miss Milne, who has done 90 hours flying so far, did all her flight training in Waikato despite being based in Christchurch at Canterbury University for the past three years.

She will complete her law degree in Waikato next year, but said she had not ruled out going for her commercial pilot licence.

Her friends thought her plan sounded "amazing" and she hoped it would inspire others to do something adventurous to mark their 21st birthday milestone.

Miss Milne will pilot a Cessna 172 for the journey, and charter pilot Tony Petch will accompany her. "I really wanted an experienced pilot with me."

Miss Milne said her father, Graeme, a pilot, was her inspiration to start flying.

Mr Milne, along with Miss Milne's brother, Ross, who also had his private pilot licence, would trail her on the adventure in Mr Milne's plane.

Miss Milne's mother, Julie, who had done a lot of the behind-the-scenes planning for the trip, said she was "very happy" to stay home and be ground control.

The weather would dictate which runways Miss Milne would be able to land at, but she said if she could land in the Far North near Cape Reinga and on Stewart Island in the south during the trip, which is expected to take two to three weeks, she would be happy.

And all going well, she already had her next adventure planned. "Australia. I want to fly to Australia."

Miss Milne's trip can be followed on the Facebook page: "Flight of Passage"

Waikato