First flight to Chch takes off

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The Mainland Air Services aircraft took off just at daybreak yesterday morning from Oamaru Airport, making picture-perfect viewing as it created a silhouette against a clear yellow/orange sky.

The aircraft was en route to Christchurch on its inaugural flight, marking the start of the company’s regular service between the two destinations.

Mrs Di Marshall was the only fare-paying passenger on the flight with the rest of the passengers a mixture of interested parties.

Mrs Marshall read about the flights in the Oamaru Mail and made a booking to travel to Christchuch for a few days. She flies back into Oamaru tomorrow.

A light frost meant the wings of the aircraft had to be kept covered with tarpaulins right up until passengers went on the plane.

Pilot, Sven Thelning, explained that daybreak is the coldest and most crucial time for keeping the wings frost-free as ice can affect the plane’s aerodynamics.

There were no bookings for yesterday afternoon’s’ 4.30pm flight at that time and Philip Kean, chief executive officer of Mainland Air Services, said the flight would not go ahead without any fare-paying passengers.

Simon Berry, chairman of the North Otago branch of the Otago Chamber of Commerce, said it was not surprising that there weren’t more bookings for initial flights as the service is new and still relatively unknown.

He said the business community would be supporting the company and that it was great to get a link to Christchurch and further afield.

“There are people travelling regularly to parliament and anyone with a national brand will be also be using it.”

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY

CHECKING IN: Taking care of the paperwork is passenger Mrs Di Marshall and pilot Mr Sven Thelning just before taking off on the first flight from Oamaru to Christchurch yesterday morning.