Fly­ing school set to lose lease at air­port, rais­ing big wor­ries

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES - By CHE BAKER

Con­cerns have been raised that pi­lots will lose valu­able moun­tain fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence if Queen­stown Air­port ter­mi­nates a 45-year-old lease with the Wakatipu Aero Club fly­ing school.

At a Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil meet­ing, held in Queen­stown yes­ter­day, con­cerns were made in the public fo­rum about the sug­ges­tion the club move train­ing and pri­vate fly­ing to Wanaka from June, when the lease ex­pires.

Queen­stown lawyer and avi­a­tion en­thu­si­ast Rev­ell Buck­ham, speak­ing on be­half of club pres­i­dent Adrian Snow, said the school was the only provider of ad­vanced moun­tain fly­ing train­ing for Queen­stown-based gen­eral avi­a­tion op­er­a­tions.

The school at­tracted na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pi­lots.

The skills and knowl­edge the club of­fered were not avail­able else­where and train­ing needed to be pro­vided in the area so there was no ‘‘degra­da­tion of safety’’.

Founded in 1970, the club op­er­ates the school and a com­mer­cial Air Wakatipu ser­vice to Mil­ford Sound, which the air­port cor­po­ra­tion has said could re­main.

Mayor Vanessa van Uden said there was an op­por­tu­nity for the club to have fur­ther dis­cus­sions with the air­port cor­po­ra­tion.

How­ever, she said as the coun­cil was a share­holder, the ad­vice was not too get in­volved and to leave it to the air­port board.

She urged with club to meet with the air­port cor­po­ra­tion to ‘‘ex­plore fur­ther op­tions’’.

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