Flying's in the blood

Go Travel New Zealand - - Contents - Richie McCaw

Avi­a­tion is a pas­sion, writes

My pas­sion for avi­a­tion started at a young age – my Fa­ther Don was a PPL fixed wing pi­lot as well as a glider, and my grand­fa­ther Jim McCaw flew fight­ers dur­ing WWII in Bri­tain. From as early as I can re­mem­ber, I was ei­ther go­ing for rides in the aero­plane with my fa­ther or listening to sto­ries my grand­fa­ther told me about his mis­sions dur­ing the war. Grow­ing up through school I al­ways had the am­bi­tion of one day learn­ing to fly. I be­gan my first flying les­son in mid-2002 at Wi­gram Aero­drome, which was ac­tu­ally the air­base my grand­fa­ther learnt to fly at 60 odd years ear­lier, and there I gained my PPL(A) not long after. I would spend ev­ery spare minute I had after my pro­fes­sional rugby com­mit­ments in the air. It was around 2005 that I got into glid­ing. It has a real sports as­pect mixed in with the thrill of be­ing able to fly around the spec­tac­u­lar moun­tains of the South­ern Alps of New Zealand us­ing noth­ing but na­ture to keep you in the air and al­low you to go large dis­tances. Hav­ing my fa­ther, two un­cles, an aunt and three cousins all glider pi­lots as well makes it a lot of fun when the whole fam­ily are out at the air­field. In 2010 I had a he­li­copter flight with an in­struc­tor and in­stantly caught the bug. I gained my PPL(H) in 2012 with Christchurch He­li­copters and ab­so­lutely love the fact that you are learn­ing ev­ery day to be­come a bet­ter and more ex­pe­ri­enced pi­lot. Since gain­ing my com­mer­cial li­cence, re­tir­ing from pro­fes­sional sport and fo­cus­ing on my work at Christchurch He­li­copters, I have re­ally en­joyed be­ing able to share my pas­sion, lo­cal knowl­edge and the ex­cite­ment I get each time I take peo­ple out for scenic rides in our ex­tra­or­di­nary back­yard. The ver­sa­til­ity of a he­li­copter is amaz­ing and this was show­cased after the Kaik­oura earth­quakes when our com­pany – Christchurch He­li­copters, were in­volved in help­ing evac­u­ate lo­cals and tourist and trans­port food and water into places cut off by the quake. Avi­a­tion links in so well with the country we have and I feel so lucky be­ing able to fly around our back­yard: I’m do­ing some­thing I love on a daily ba­sis.

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