Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Heritage coffee table ideal for a high flier

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A coffee table, made from the tail section of a 1953 de Havilland Heron, sits in the entrance of Classic Flyers.
A coffee table, made from the tail section of a 1953 de Havilland Heron, sits in the entrance of Classic Flyers.

Craig Saunders has spent the past year fashioning a coffee table out of the tail section of a 1953 de Havilland Heron.

He took on the hobby in hopes of raising money to help restore an ex-RNZAF Aermacchi Jet Trainer housed at Classic Flyers.

His project is being raffled off, with a winner announced on March 31.

Mr Saunders saw the idea to fashion old pieces of aircraft into something new overseas and on websites.

"I looked at them and thought wow, it looks stunning."

Being ex-air force, he wanted to create a few pieces himself for Classic Flyers.

"I love the place. I think it is fantastic. It offers former airforce and military a place to hang out."

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The Pyes Pa resident said it took him more than a year to complete the project part-time while running his IT company, Integrity Services. He spent more than 100 hours of sanding and polishing.

"It was a bit of a learning curve. The piece of tail was corroded and in a poor state. It's got dents and scratches in it which we have kept because it is a historical piece and it's got history ... but I have had it chemically stripped and it's almost restored back to the original factory colours. It's beautiful inside."

Tickets for the piece are selling fast, with about 500 sold already. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to aircraft restoration at Classic Flyers. The two aeroplanes in residence are former Royal New Zealand Air Force planes: an A-4 Skyhawk and an Aermacchi Jet trainer. Mr Saunders hopes to help restore the latter with money raised by the coffee table.

He has worked on the Aermacchi for two and half years when he was in the RNZAF from 1988 to 1995.

"Money is hard to come by and aircraft cost a lot. We need to preserve them and keep them flying if we can.

"When you are up there you let every thing else about your life and the world just go ... you're just at peace."

Mr Saunders first flew solo at the age of 17.

He hopes to fashion more pieces in the future. Right now he is working on a 1.8-metre computer desk. He has spent 200 hours sanding and polishing and it is about a month away from completion.

Restoration funder:

* Tickets are $5 each or 3 for $10 and can be purchased at the Classic Flyers gift shop or cafe.

* The winner will be drawn on March 31, 2016

* Limit of 2000 tickets, about 500 have sold already.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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