Up, Up and Away – Rangiora Aerodrome

“On a Mish” #382 Up, Up and Away. Rangiora Aerodrome. North Canterbury. 21.7.2023. During my time in the outdoors I have been very lucky to have been able to take to the skies in helicopters. The remote locations I have worked in have meant most supplies have needed to be transported via the air. I never took my flights for granted and enjoyed every second. Nowadays I am grounded thanks to my injury and flying seems like a distant dream. That was until one of my Father’s mates asked if I’d like to see Northern Canterbury from the air…

The journey to the small and yet very popular aerodrome wasn’t a confidence building trip. Being told that the plane’s owner ‘Capitan Chris’ liked to get the aircraft inverted made me a little bit nervous. There was never any point during my flights in choppers that I went anywhere close to upside down!

We drove into the recreational airfield and were very surprised to see how busy the place was. Even on the drizzly day there were still lots of people around pottering on their planes.

We caught up with Chris who informed us that his plane was currently doing laps of the aerodrome and this was a little reassuring as I got a chance to see the aerial vehicle in action.

We watched as the old Czechoslovakian plane bounced to a stop and parked up in front of us. The pilots swapped over and pre-flight checks began. As the checks were going down I got to take my seat behind Chris.

The plane can be, and is sometimes, used for training so I was surprised to see a fully functioning cockpit only inches away from my fingertips. My main questions were what do I NOT touch as sending us plummeting to the ground by mistake wasn’t on my list of things to do.

With the checks completed and the machine topped up with fuel it was time to go up, up and away!

Being a propeller-powered plane the noise was impressive. Everything shuddered under the power as we bounced our way over the wet grass towards the runway. After getting to the top of the runway Chris asked if I was ready to go. Of course I answered with a simple ‘yes’, but really I was just preparing myself for the worst. I have taken to the skies with the same attitude every time, if this is the way I go out at least it will be a spectacular end!

The flight was more of a testing run and I had no issues when I was told we wouldn’t be doing any loops or rolls. Apparently the maximum ceiling height meant that the plane didn’t have much room to spare when doing a loop. This information made me very happy to be flying in such a controlled manner.

After a couple of laps of the area which included mock touchdowns (very surprising when you are not ready for it!), we landed and the aero mish was over. Short, sweet and epic. Just how I like it at the moment!

My flight was awesome and reminded me how lucky I was during my time on different hiking tracks. Most go a lifetime without taking to the skies in anything smaller than a commercial aircraft and I used to take to the air at least once a week (during the summer).

I really miss my old life and the aerial adventures that went with it. On the bright side, at least for a while during a rainy afternoon in July I got a chance to relive my past and get into an aircraft and go up, up and away!

A Remarkable Experience

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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