Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Tourism Icon Marks First Ski Plane Landing

30 September 2005

Tourism Icon Marks First Ski Plane Landing

AORAKI MOUNT COOK, NEW ZEALAND - The iconic New Zealand alpine tourism company, Mount Cook Ski Planes, will celebrate on 1 October 2005 the 50th anniversary of the first ski plane landing on Tasman Glacier.

The historic landing by a single-engine Auster flown by former RNZAF wing commander Harry (later Sir Henry) Wigley was achieved on 22 September 1955.

The company will celebrate the anniversary in “true southern style’ at an airfield ceremony followed by an anniversary dinner at the famous tourist resort hotel The Hermitage.

Wigley set a goal of landing tourist flights on the high, flat, snowfields of the Tasman, Franz Josef and Fox glaciers while flying for Queenstown-Mount Cook Airways formed by his father Rodolph Lysaght Wigley in the late 1930s.

In the post-war years ski planes emerged as the solution. A former Canadian bush pilot, ‘Carp” (E.H.) Carpenter, who was head of the New Zealand Air Department’s Airworthiness Division (a forerunner of CAA), provided advice on the design of retractable skis.

Kiwi ingenuity took the concepts further and after hundreds of hours of testing a set of laminated Oregon pine skis were fitted to an Auster Aiglet aircraft. The skis were raised by a system of radius rods for take-off and lowered for snow landings.

On the day of the flight, a crowd gathered at The Hermitage air-strip to watch Wigley depart with passenger Allan ‘Squib’ McWhirter on the historic flight up the Tasman Glacier. A landing zone on the glacier’s eastern side was chosen and Wigley flew down the line at the lowest possible speed while McWhirter threw markers out on to the great expanse of smooth snow.

Wigley flew in a wide circuit, gaining height, and lined the plane up with the markers.

It was a tense experience, not knowing how the skis might react, and in the event that they might be required, the Auster was loaded with ice axes, shovels and emergency gear.

Wigley applied full power at the lowest possible speed and the heels of the skis gently skimmed the snow.

All went well and thousands of flights have followed. Today Mount Cook Ski Planes is one of the icons of the New Zealand tourism industry.

It operates six-seater Cessna 185 and 10-seater Porter Pilatus aircraft from the airfield at Mount Cook and Cessna aircraft from Franz Josef.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Paymark: Lockdown Equals Slowdown For Some

The three days of lockdown for Auckland earlier this month made a clear impression on our retail spending figures. While only Auckland moved into Level 3 lockdown, the impact was felt across the country, albeit at different levels. Looking at the ... More>>

Infrastructure Commission: Te Waihanga Releases Report On Water Infrastructure

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga’s latest discussion document highlights the importance of current reforms in the water sector. Its State of Play discussion document about water infrastructure is one of a series looking at the ... More>>

Sci-Tech: Perseverance Rover Lands On Mars – Expert Reaction

NASA has landed a car-sized rover on the red planet to search for signs of past life. The vehicle has more instruments than the four rovers preceding it, and it’s also carrying gear that could help pave the way for human exploration of Mars. The ... More>>


ASB: Quarterly Economic Forecast Predicts OCR Hike As Early As August 2022

Predictions of interest rate rises have been brought forward 12 months in ASB’s latest Quarterly Economic Forecast. Chief Economist Nick Tuffley now expects the RBNZ to begin raising the OCR from its current level of 0.25% as early as August ... More>>

ACT: Matariki Almost A Half Billion Dollar Tax On Business

“Official advice to the Government says an extra public holiday at Matariki could cost almost $450 million,” ACT Leader David Seymour can reveal. “This is a perfect example of the Prime Minister doing what’s popular versus what’s responsible. ... More>>

Genesis: Assessing 6,000 GWh Of Renewable Generation Options For Development By 2025

Genesis is assessing 6,000 GWh of renewable generation options for development after starting a closed RFP process with 11 partners. Those invited to participate offer a range of technologies as Genesis continues to execute its Future-gen strategy to ... More>>

OECD: Unemployment Rate Stable At 6.9% In December 2020, 1.7 Percentage Points Higher Than In February 2020

The OECD area unemployment rate was stable at 6.9% in December 2020, remaining 1.7 percentage points above the level observed in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the labour market. [1] In December, the unemployment rate was also stable ... More>>

Stats NZ: Unemployment Drops To 4.9 Percent As Employment Picks Up

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in the December 2020 quarter, from 5.3 percent in the September 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today. Last quarter’s unemployment rate of 5.3 percent followed the largest increase observed ... More>>