Although the weather turned Sunday's dawn raid at the Dannevirke Aerodrome into a sunrise fly-in, Takaka pilot Mit Brereton wasn't about to miss out on "the best airstrip in New Zealand".

"Dannevirke is my favourite strip. It's amazing," he told the Dannevirke News, as he touched down after his hour and 20-minute flight from Takaka in his Cessna 185. "It was a nice, smooth flight and an amazing sunrise, and it's well worth making this trip. I try to come every year."

Having a substantial tail wind helped Mit make the trip in reasonable time, but the weather had forced others to abandon their flights, with just 17 making it to Dannevirke.

Tararua district councillor Tracey Collis (left), Mel Poulton, Vaughan Donald and Gary Mitchelmore watch as a dawn raider flies out of the sun before landing at the Dannevirke aerodrome.
Tararua district councillor Tracey Collis (left), Mel Poulton, Vaughan Donald and Gary Mitchelmore watch as a dawn raider flies out of the sun before landing at the Dannevirke aerodrome.

"One day I came in here and there were 70 or 80 planes on the ground but, it doesn't matter how many arrive, it's great," Mit said.

Advertisement

With the wind "all over the place" and rain and wind clouds along the Ruahine Ranges, Feilding pilots who did get airborne, turned back, pulling the plug on their raid on Dannevirke.

And the conditions were "interesting" for Hawke's Bay pilot Jan Chisum.

"It was frosty when I left and we came along the hills to get out of the worst of the weather," she said.

However, Vince Payne, of the Dannevirke Flying Club, said the event was good, considering the conditions, with the first plane in flown by Wendy Milne of Waipukurau who arrived at 7.45am. This was the latest a first dawn raider has arrived at the Dannevirke Aerodrome during the history of the event.

Second to touch down was Ross MacDonald, also from Waipukurau.

In former times, the dawn raid was just that, a raid on the defending airfield trying to land without others realising you were there. Now it's a chance for socialising, showing off planes and enjoying the camaraderie flying brings.

The value of Dannevirke's aerodrome shouldn't be taken lightly, Eketahuna's Tracey Collis, said. "It needs to be recognised as one of our region's assets."