Champs to bring skies alive

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AVIATION THRILLS: The skies above Mid Canterbury will be alive next week as the Mid Canterbury Aero Club hosts the 2024 Flying New Zealand National Championships at the Ashburton Airport (pictured). PHOTO SUPPLIED
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The skies above Mid Canterbury will be alive with aircraft next week as the Mid Canterbury Aero Club hosts the 2024 Flying New Zealand National Championships.

Held from March 12 to 16, the championships will feature more than 50 pilots, including four from Ashburton. They will be competing in more than 25 planes, typically in Cherokee and Cessna aircraft.

Aero club president Graham Closey said there would be plenty of aviation action happening at the airport, especially later in the week. Aircraft would start arriving on Monday.

‘‘There will be people from throughout New Zealand. They will be competing in one of 30 competitions; some people compete in more than one,’’ Closey said.

‘‘Competitions include formation flying, aerobatics, spot landings, and in a range of skill levels. From junior to senior levels of fly-in,’’ he said.

The last time Mid Canterbury hosted the nationals was about eight years ago.

The four aviators from Mid Canterbury are Closey, Darryn Franklin, Anja Liemburg and Ian Begbie.

Closey said members of the public could get good views of some of action above the airfield, such as the formation flying on Wednesday morning from 9am, although some competition events such as low flying was planned along the coast line.

He said streamer cutting was on Wednesday afternoon from 1pm, and on Friday, landing grid competitions from 9am, aerobatic competition from 1pm, and bombing and liferaft competitions from 2pm.

‘‘The public is welcome to come and watch from outside the fence of the airport. There are great vantage points, but we can’t allow the public to walk on the operating area of the airport.’’

He said the championships would conclude with a presentation dinner on Saturday, in the Ashburton Aviation Museum, with 165 people booked to attend. It included supporters, judges and volunteers.

He said aviation enthusiasts could also get good viewing on Sunday morning as most competition aircraft would depart from the airfield from about 8am.

– The 2024 Flying New Zealand National Championships is hosted by Mid Canterbury Aero Club at Ashburton Airport. Events will be March 12 to 16, from 9am each day.