Aviation enthusiasts were drawn to the Ashburton Airport this week with the long-awaited arrival of a T28 Trojan aircraft.
The two seater fighter plane, owned by Brian Hall, had been restored in Auckland and was flown to its new home in Ashburton by pilot Kevin Langford on Monday. He was joined on the flight by test pilot Dave Brown, who is also chief flying instructor for New Zealand Warbirds Association.
The Trojan, originally from Pensacola in the United States, was a piston-engined military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy from the 1950s. It was used in low-level bombing runs during the Vietnam War.
It will be hangared with the Ashburton Aviation Museum, available to Mr Hall for use, but also as a drawcard for aviation enthusiasts to view up close at the museum. It has a place specially prepared in the new hangar nestled between the DC3 and an Aermacchi.
Among those at the airport to see its arrival were Elizabeth Street Day Care clients and staff and a host of Ashburton Aviation Museum members including president Warren Janett.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Mr Janett said as the aircraft, with its distinctive purring engine, made a wide arc of the airport before coming in to land.
“It’s like a DC3 on one engine,” he said.
The T28 has a cruising speed of around 352 kilometres per hour (190 knots).
The flight, which took 2hours 40minutes from Auckland to Ashburton (plus a refuel stop at Paraparaumu (north of Wellington), was the first time Mr Langford had flown it.
He said it was the next step-up from the Harvard aircraft and a classy piece of machine.
The flight had got bumpier across the South Island as the westerly winds increased.
He was grateful for the support of Mr Brown, who once they touched down in Ashburton was on the road back to Christchurch for a commercial flight back to Auckland.
“He kept me on the straight and narrow,” Mr Langford said.