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Air Race Starts Today


Two Days Until Race Start

The crew of Beechcraft Bonanza VH-FMD made a dramatic arrival to New Zealand on their way to the start line of the Around New Zealand Air Race 2004. Pilot David McDonald and aircraft engineer Ian Thornton established a new world speed record flying from Bankstown, Australia to Auckland International Airport yesterday. The 1168nm crossing was made in 7 hours 55 minutes

The Air Race, which starts on Monday, is set to travel approximately 3,500 nautical miles (6482km) around New Zealand, finishing in Wanaka just in time for the internationally acclaimed Warbirds over Wanaka airshow. Along the way entrants will be stopping in Gisborne to support fellow aviators at the Royal New Zealand Aero Club national flying competition, with other rest days at Taupo, Nelson, and Te Anau. Racing ends on Good Friday with a prizegiving function on Sunday.

New Zealand's most popular motivational speaker, Tony Christiansen has agreed to come and speak at the Air Race prizegiving in Queenstown on Sunday 11 April. Tony is a pilot who operates the rudders with his hands, having lost his legs at age 9. This has not held him back as he has still managed to gain a second degree black belt in martial arts, win medals at the Paralympic games, become a lifeguard, and climb Mt Kilimanjaro! Air Race is most honored and extremely grateful to Tony for accepting our invitation to speak.

Race entrant Maurice Kirk, a veteran of the 2001 London - Sydney Air Race, has offered to speak at a dinner to be held at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum in Wigram. Maurice is a practising veterinarian at home in South Wales, and will be flying in the race in his 90hp World War 2-era Piper J3 Cub. He will talk about his experiences during the London - Sydney race, and his colourful aviation exploits in general.

The race is certainly starting to attract media attention, with both TV One and TV3 planning to send crews on race aircraft for the first leg of the race. Paul Holmes today took to the skies for a check flight in a Cessna 172 aircraft, which he plans to fly to Kerikeri on Monday as part of the race.

The race can be followed with Flight Explorer software, accessed through the http://www.airways.co.nz site. Each aircraft will be allocated a discrete transponder code, and viewers can identify where along the route each race aircraft is in real time. For more information on the race see our website at http://www.airrace.co.nz where you will find links to sponsor and competitor sites and organiser contact details.

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