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Parked up ... Members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of New Zealand flew to Oamaru for their annual Christmas get-together last Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

About 80 people and 45 planes winged their way to Oamaru over the weekend to mark the beginning of the festive season.

The North Otago Aero Club hosted the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of New Zealand’s annual Christmas get-together at Oamaru Airport last Saturday.

Vice-president Hayden Williams, of Oamaru, said the association was offered the opportunity to hold the event in Oamaru and jumped at the chance.

“It’s probably more about having a meet and greet, and getting them talking to like-minded people. By about 3 or 4 o’clock, people were jumping into their planes and heading home.”

He said association members from as far away as Nelson and Invercargill made the trip, which took a fraction of the time by air that it would have on the road.

“I guess that’s the good thing about flying. It makes it more achievable. It turns an eight-hour drive into a two-hour flight.”

Many members shared their knowledge with others at the event, where Mr Williams said the more experienced pilots acted as mentors to others with less experience.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of New Zealand was formed in 1969 to encourage the social aspect of flying with like-minded people who shared a passion for aviation.

Mr Williams said it had “several hundred” active members.