A view from the tower – a sight to behold

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There is snow on the alps and, in the foreground, a Russian Yak is taking off.

This is the view from Ashburton’s newest – and soon to open – attraction, an 8m replica of the original control tower at Ashburton Airport.

It is an Ashburton Aviation Museum project led by Brian Mitchell – and he is pleased with progress.

“We hope to have it ready by Christmas. The control room is being lined now.”

The elegant building, put up by Jim Reed Building, is the dream of ardent aviation supporter Eric Drewitt.

He made a generous donation to build a replica of the tower that sat on the field in the 1940s, when Ashburton was a training airfield.

Mr Drewitt collected information on New Zealand and British air bases and wanted the museum to have, and to look after, his collection.

He worked with the late Jim Chivers on the project – and now it is nearing completion.

Mr Mitchell, who with other volunteers has helped paint the tower, said old clocks and gauges would be put into the control room about 6m up the tower, and the room fitted with seats from planes.

It affords a grand view over the airfield and beyond, bettered only by the view from the platform at the top.

Wind gauges would be fitted and linked to the replica aeradio hut set up in the museum’s super hangar by enthusiast John Hill.

That hut represents a 1950s aeradio station used at secondary airports around New Zealand.

Mr Mitchell said that for the opening, it was hoped to have Tiger Moths and the like from the Croydon Aviation Centre at Mandeville, near Gore, and a selection of planes from the Ashburton’s museum’s impressive collection.

In the ground-floor room, a television will play video footage compiled over many years by aviation fan Noel Waters, including rare footage of Mustangs in front of the original tower.

The control tower – built near, but not on – the site of the original, will be open when the aviation museum is open.

The replica control tower at Ashburton Airport.
A plane beside the original control tower.