The story of a young man who built an aeroplane from scratch and took to the sky from Waitarere Beach almost 100 years ago should be made into a movie.
That's the view of Joan-Marie O'Dea, who has already published a book about her father Martin Butler's famous feat in 1932, of flying an aeroplane he started building himself as a teenager.
The book, titled Butler's Flight, was released 10 years ago and O'Dea would love for it now to be adapted for screen.
"I would love for it to be made into a movie," she said.
"It really is a story of the life and times of Levin's very own aviator, how he achieved his dream and how he went on to have a life where he achieved what he set out to do no matter what."
And, just like the movies, the story has a climatic ending with Butler crashing his plane, lucky to escape with his life.
O'Dea spent many years researching her father's life. She wrote the book at the request of her late mother, who had suggested she document her father's achievements.
She discovered new information during her research that she hadn't known herself, like the fact her father built the plane using "bits and pieces" he found, and worked on the project every day after work for three years.
At the time he was a mechanic at JJ Milnes, the Ford dealership in Levin, and his spare time was spent constructing the monoplane. He would then hoist it to the roof of the garage workshop, where it would hang out of the way.
The 40 horse power Ford engine was scavenged from the side of Paekakariki Hill, the plane was built on a Pietenpol design from plans he had sent from the USA, and the body was canvas that he cut and hand-stitched himself.
'No one ever thanked us for doing our jobs'
Once he was finished, the plane was transported from Levin to the beach in two parts by lorry for the final assembly on the sand.
News of his first flight attempt travelled fast and a crowd of 300 lined the beach, although on the first run a gasket blew out and a flood of water through the carburettor brought the engine to a standstill.
Although this caused considerable delay, it was able to be rectified, and at 4.10pm, in the face of a bitter southerly breeze, take-off was achieved. Butler was airborne.
So, without any formal education, at the age of 22, he had flown a monoplane, and would do so on four separate occasions from the beach.
It was a remarkable achievement, as it was only 30 years earlier that New Zealander Richard Pearse, 25, became the first man to fly an aeroplane.
The industry as a whole was still in its infancy, but it was exciting times. Just five years earlier Charles Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic, and Bert Hinkler had just flown from England to Australia.
While Butler's feats might have appeared minor in comparison, they still required an amazing amount of intelligence and resourcefulness to build the craft, and courage to fly it.
All his flights from Waitarere Beach attracted huge crowds, with his final flight ending in a spectacular crash, after flying as far north as Manawatū.
He was lucky to escape with his life. He described the crash in his own words, on a piece of paper O'Dea found among the documents given to her by her mother.
"The final crash was due to my inexperience. My difficulty in getting the plane off the ground proved to be that I was attempting to lift off by using the stick before gaining sufficient forward speed."
"After numerous failures I held the stick forward and allowed the bird to gather maximum speed and at this stage the plane rose easily and climbed quickly to my estimated 1000 feet.
"At this altitude I flew up and down the beach several times and then noticed that the radiator was boiling furiously and then I decided to land.
"I pushed the stick forward to glide but instead this caused the plane to dive for the ground.
"Attempts to come out of the dive were just too late and the wheels hit the beach. My plane bounced and fell back and the fuselage broke at the cockpit allowing engine and wings to fall forward.
"It was good that I escaped without injury."
Onlookers noticed what looked like a vapour trail coming from the plane, some 300m in the air. It wasn't vapour though, but steam coming from an engine that was overheating.
"After throttling back, the plane appeared to be gliding to a normal landing, but it was in fact dropping almost vertically.
"The fact became apparent to me only when I was near the ground."
There could have been stronger forces keeping Butler safe. Before the flight a family friend, Mrs Hesp, had given him a silver mediallion of St Francis, the patron saint of birds, which he placed under his seat.
Although not usually a suprstitious man, O'Dea said right through his life her father maintained the medal had kept him safe.
Butler never flew again though.
O'Dea said her father originally got the idea after a reading an article in Popular Mechanics magazine and acted on it. She felt he was more attracted by the challenge, than a passion for aviation.
There was no doubt he was driven by the spirit of invention. He was always thinking, and later went on to design a reversible trailer that could turn with a car.
She said he had help with his inventions along the way, especially from Levin man Bill Harding who was a constant companion in both the plane project and the reversible trailer, and was a major stake holder when the reversible trailer was patented.
"It was a very special day in Levin when he drove his motor car with the reversible trailer attached," she said.
Not one to rest, he also invented a hay drier and a hay bailer while on his sister's farm in Ohaupo near Hamilton.
He also worked for Colonial Motor Company where he played a major part in designing vehicle and fire pumps that were used in the WWII effort.
Meanwhile, there were limited copies of Bulters Flight made. O'Dea had given copies to school and town libraries, and historical societies.
O'Dea worked with Te Takere to put on a public display to mark the 76th anniversary of the flight and she was grateful for the opportunity to share her information and photos.
"I had tremendous support from the people of Levin whilst I was doing all my research, including the library, the council, the different community groups," she said.
She hoped to one day hand all she had collected, including original photos that she carries around in bags, to Te Takere.
"I am 72 and need to know they will be in a safe place," she said.
Now living in Wellington, O'Dea said Levin and Waitarere Beach will always be special to her.
"Mum and Dad both loved Levin and we have a real identity and lots of aroha and affection for the town and its people. We always had to stop there. Dad said it was part of who we were," she said.
Martin Butler died in 1969, age 59.