Cessna takes epic trip to new job

Red tape in­volved in buy­ing plane all worth it in the end

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By GRANT BRYANT

The pain of deal­ing with glacial­paced bu­reau­cracy buy­ing an aero­plane in Greece was matched by many beau­ti­ful sights when fly­ing it back to Queen­stown, co-pi­lot Antony Sproull says. Af­ter fly­ing 20,000 kilo­me­tres in 10 days Mr Sproull and 84-year-old Aus­tralian ferry pi­lot Jim Hazel­ton touched down in the $2 mil­lion Cessna Car­a­van about 8pm on Fri­day. They were joined for the fi­nal leg of the jour­ney by avi­a­tor friends, and other Air Milford planes. Af­ter sleep­ing till noon on Sun­day Mr Sproull kicked straight back into op­er­a­tions man­ager mode, ex­plain­ing that no time would be wasted on get­ting the new plane cer­ti­fied for New Zealand and in the air. ‘‘We’re in the peak of our tourist sea­son, and Dad [Air Milford owner and air­craft engi­neer Hank Sproull] will be head­ing up get­ting ev­ery­thing up to New Zealand Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity stan­dards, start­ing straight away,’’ he said. ‘‘Hope­fully we’ll have the CAA in­spec­tion on Wed­nes­day, get cer­ti­fied by Fri­day, and have the plane in the air by Satur­day. We were ini­tially go­ing to do the ferry flight in 15 days, but cut that down to 10 be­cause it is so im­por­tant to get this plane work­ing – so we won’t be wast­ing any time now that it’s ar­rived.’’ Fly­ing over the Nile River delta at 10,000 feet and see­ing the sun set over Abu Dhabi at 5000 feet were breath­tak­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, Mr Sproull said. ‘‘There were just so many high points in get­ting the plane here, but it was also a huge hon­our to fly a 20,000 kilo­me­tre jour­ney with Jim. ‘‘He’s been do­ing th­ese long-haul ferry flights for 50 years now and has so much ex­pe­ri­ence.’’ Buy­ing the plane in Greece was a ‘‘sale of the cen­tury’’ sit­u­a­tion, af­ter a group of Amer­i­can in­vestors walked away from pre­vi­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions be­cause of the amount of bu­reau­cracy slow­ing the deal, but get­ting through the same bu­reau­cracy took ex­treme pa­tience, Mr Sproull said. ‘‘This plane was the only one avail­able in the world in 2013 with its spec range. A lot of the newer Car­a­vans have added tech­nol­ogy, but that adds weight and slows fly­ing speed, so what we got was per­fect for us, but took a lot of time and a huge amount of pa­tience.’’

Photo: SUP­PLIED

Safe land­ing: Air Milford owner Hank Sproull, right, and son Antony in front of the new $2 mil­lion Cessna co-pi­loted from Greece to Queen­stown in a 10-day marathon flight.

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