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The Around New Zealand Air Race Is A Go!

5 February 2004

It's all go! The Around New Zealand Air Race is confirmed to go ahead, and the race will attract nationwide attention. Entries are still rolling in, with sixty aircraft signed up so far.

Local mayors at the various stopover points have been invited to take part in the event, with many taking up the offer to start a race-leg from their airfield. Community groups are also getting involved, particularly aero clubs who can take advantage of the race to promote recreational aviation in their local areas.

Fifty-eight entries have been confirmed, and limited late entries are still being accepted by race organizers.

The race has many high profile sponsors.

Airways Corporation, the national provider of air traffic services, has appointed an airways co-coordinator specifically for the race. Al Murray, an experienced tower and radar controller from Christchurch will help prepare the controlled airfield transits and act as advisor on airspace and aerodrome procedures. Another Airways sponsored service will be Airways Flight Explorer which will be available on line at no cost for race fans, sponsors, family and supporters to watch in real time the progress of their favorite racer. See their website for further details:

The New Zealand Met Service has also pledged support, and their services will undoubtedly be very useful in the forecasting of weather during the race.

The Loaded Hog group is hosting pre- and post- race briefings/parties as a part of their sponsorship of the race.

Sponsorship of fuel for support aircraft and arrangements for fuel at remote aerodromes has been undertaken by Shell Fuel and Air BP.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force is assisting with arrangements for the race start at RNZAF Base Whenuapai, and there are rumours that they may even enter a team in the race to coincide with training of Air Force pilots.

Microlight aircraft are now able to enter the race, providing they can meet minimum speed requirements. Today's high performance microlights, despite their lower weight threshold, can cruise at speeds rivaling traditional general aviation aircraft. A few modifications to the race route were required to ensure that there will be no conflict with the rule of 'no flight over congested areas for microlight aircraft', but otherwise the new generation aircraft will fit very well into the race structure, and most likely will prove very competitive. Currently there are two confirmed Tecnam microlights and an Alpi Pioneer microlight entered in the race.

Other aircraft include many Cessna variants - four seat 172 and 182 models, six seater 206, and twin engined 310 aircraft; as well as Piper aircraft ranging from the 90hp Cub to Cherokee variants and a twin-engined Navajo. Also competing will be Mooneys, a Maule, a Lancair, a Jodel, a Tobago and assorted others - both fixed-wing and helicopter.

So, who's entering? Race organizers will be informing participants shortly about who exactly they're up against in the race. The pilots come from all walks of life, from recreational aviators up to experienced commercially qualified pilots, and their team members are an equally diverse group. There are entrants confirmed from the UK, the US and Australia, in both foreign and New Zealand registered aircraft.

The following is a brief profile of a couple of the teams entered.

TeamVenCap, consisting of Martin & Pat Sabey and Michael & Hilary Ashall from the UK have entered a NZ registered Partenavia six-place twin-engine aircraft. Between them they have great experience in air race type flying, having flown the12,500 nautical mile London-Sydney Air Race, the Great Hawaii Air Race, the World Rally Flying Championships in South Africa as well as ferry flying of over 6,000 nautical miles.

Maurice Kirk, a veteran of the previous race in 1991 and the London-Sydney Air Race is having his Piper Cub shipped over to New Zealand so he can compete in the race before embarking on further world-wide travel in his aircraft. Maurice operates a flying veterinary service from his home in the UK. His other company Kirk Aviation provides First World War aircraft for air displays, banner towing and photography services.

The organizers are anticipating daily updates during the race on their website, Groups such as schools and clubs are encouraged to follow the progress of the event, and are most welcome to support the race by welcoming participants at stopover points at airfields around the country.

For further information on the race, visit the website, or contact

© Scoop Media

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