Queenstown pilot's adventure begins

Air Milford operations manager Antony Sproull in front of the company's existing 1995 model Cessna 208 Caravan. Photo / supplied
Air Milford operations manager Antony Sproull in front of the company's existing 1995 model Cessna 208 Caravan. Photo / supplied

Queenstown pilot Antony Sproull is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.

The 29-year-old left the resort yesterday bound for a 20,000km flight, ferrying a $2 million Cessna Caravan home for his father, Air Milford owner Hank Sproull.

The pair flew to Greece in October to collect the 14-seater aircraft, which will bring the Air Milford fleet to four, but were forced to return to New Zealand without it.

Air Milford father and son aviation duo, Hank Sproull (left) and Antony Sproull. Photo / supplied
Air Milford father and son aviation duo, Hank Sproull (left) and Antony Sproull. Photo / supplied

Yesterday Antony, Air Milford's operations manage, began the journey to Athens to finally collect the plane, which he would fly the 60-hour journey home with two experienced Australian ferry pilots, Jim Hazelton (84) and Richard Purdy at his side.

Mr Hazelton would be directing the flight paths through the epic journey.

"Jim has the knowledge and contacts to lead us through the safest flying routes," Antony said.

The trio would fly home via the Greek Islands and Egypt, spending New Year's Eve on the Nile.

They would then fly across the Red Sea via Saudi Arabia to Southern Oman, the Maldives and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean.

From there they would fly to Broome, Western Australia, on to Alice Springs and land in Queenstown in mid-January.

Their journey would be live tracked through the Air Milford website.

The "near new" 675HP 208 Caravan had 300 hours on the clock and came with state-of-the-art cockpit technology - the first of its kind to be operated between Queenstown and Milford Sound.

The plane's Garmin G1000 GPS instrument technology meant Air Milford had the potential to operate commercially into Milford on instrument flight rules (IFR), enabling flights to continue in bad weather.

Antony Sproull said the technology was known as "the glass cockpit".

"It's basically three iPads across your cockpit and that's your instrumentation.

"You've got three flat screen iPads handling your controls.

"This GPS technology is very new and a huge advancement."On average we can only fly into Milford 250 days a year, because of bad weather.

"This might push that out to potentially 300, so it's a huge economic advantage for Milford and Queenstown."

Hank Sproull was already IFR rated, while senior pilot Matthew Cameron was also completing the necessary IFR training and examinations.

- Otago Daily Times

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