Although last Friday's fly-in to the Dannevirke Aerodrome, by the French Air Force wasn't the first, it was momentous, the air field manager said.

Trevor Bennett has been retired from the Tararua District Council for seven years, but still manages the Dannevirke Aerodrome and he was delighted the French aircraft, a Casa C-235 transport plane, landed on the grass strip.

The plane, based in New Caledonia, had been taking part in Exercise Skytrain in the Hawke's Bay and made a low pass, followed by a landing and "back-up" on the runway before changing pilots. After a pre-flight inspection the Casa took off and landed again before doing a circuit over Dannevirke and leaving. "We couldn't welcome it here to Dannevirke, because it didn't shut down completely, but I think one or two of us were hoping to use our basic school French," Mr Bennett said.