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Air New Zealand's 'Frodo' 747 Flies Into History

Air New Zealand's 'Frodo' 747 Flies Into History

1,000ft flypast announced for Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier before Wellington World Premiere

Air New Zealand will make history with an exciting six-city low level flypast by its Frodo-themed Boeing 747-400 - the flagship of its specially liveried Middle-earth fleet.

In an extension of its recently announced Wellington flypast forThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King world premiere parade tomorrow afternoon, the Airline to Middle-earth is enabling more than two million people - one in two New Zealanders - up and down the North Island the chance to join in tomorrow's The Lord of the Rings celebrations.

Weather permitting, the flypast sequence will start over Auckland at approximately 1.25pm with a sweep up Auckland Harbour at just 300 metres, then continue onto Hamilton by 1.50pm, onto Tauranga by 2.05pm, Gisborne by 2.30pm, Napier by 2.50 and then into Wellington right on cue for 3.45pm over the red carpet parade in front of the world's assembled media.

Kiwis from Mission Bay to Miramar will be able to look skywards tomorrow afternoon and share in the excitement generated by Wellington's world premiere of the third installment in the motion picture trilogy.

This is the first time that a Boeing 747-400 has undertaken a low-level flypast in the four regional centres. Advisories are being emailed to hundreds of schools overnight to alert teachers and children about the flypast, which for Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier will the first time these cities have ever witnessed a Boeing 747-400 sweeping over at low level.

"The anticipation and excitement generated by news of our Wellington flypast was so overwhelming, we decided to spread the thrill of this unique event as widely as possible," said Air New Zealand Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Norris..

"As Airline to Middle-earth, we're creatively using our Middle-earth fleet to promote the message of New Zealand tourism on the international stage. We wanted to show as many New Zealanders as possible what we're doing with these mammoth flying billboards which are having a dramatic impact wherever they're seen."

Air New Zealand's fleet of four Middle-earth themed aircraft - two Boeing 747s, a Boeing 767 and an Airbus A320 - will fly the equivalent of 400 times around the globe during their time in promotional livery.

At the controls of the 'Frodo' 747 is a team of three of Air New Zealand's most experienced pilots. In command is Captain Bruce Donnelly, Chief Training Manager for the Boeing 747 fleet who has flown for the airline for 30 years. Captain Donnelly is an experienced display pilot and has undertaken several low level exhibition flights with Boeing 747-400 aircraft in recent years.

He will be accompanied by Captain Tom Clark, a 30-year Air New Zealand veteran and also a training captain on the 747 fleet, together with First Officer Mark Perryman, who has flown for the airline for 18 years.

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