The idea came as many good ideas come – in the middle of the night.

"I thought about creating a swing, but not just any swing," Fly By Wire inventor Neil Harrap said.

"A swing that could be powered and steered, where the person flying would be in charge."

What emerged a year later was the world's first Fly By Wire, an adrenaline ride for thrill seekers, tourists and locals alike.

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Set in the back hills of Paekākāriki, just off State Highway 1 behind Coffee @ Ians, a short walk takes you to one of Kāpiti's most unique attractions.

High in the canyon. Photo / Jack Penman
High in the canyon. Photo / Jack Penman

With operation starting back in 1996 the ride attracted tourists and celebrities with the BBC's Jeremy Clarkson calling it a plane without wings.

"I'm fizzing after just five minutes on this thing," he said.

The ride runs like a pendulum with a motor on the back and looks like a plane without wings.

The rider is the pilot with full control of speed and direction.

Reaching up to 60 metres high and as low as one metre off the ground, the plane flies through the canyon giving stunning views of Kāpiti Island.

Inventor Neil Harrap, left, and Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan. Photo / Jack Penman
Inventor Neil Harrap, left, and Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan. Photo / Jack Penman

"It's the only one in the world," Neil said.

"It goes at speeds of up to 70kmh but it feels like 170kmh."

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In 2003, flash floods put a halt to the attraction after the facility was washed out.

But after having a double knee replacement two years ago Neil began thinking of the new possibilities his knees would bring him.

"I was in the rehab and was thinking 'what am I going to do with these new knees?

"So in September last year we started working on it again.

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan takes flight. Photo / Jack Penman
Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan takes flight. Photo / Jack Penman

"It's the same original ride but with all new equipment.

"Now with social media, tourists and the likes the time felt right."

With the paper work finished off, the attraction was opened last week and will be operating seven days a week from 9am-5pm, weather permitting.

"It is an experience like no other in the world," said Matt Johnston, who runs Fly By Wire.

"You can bungy jump in 58 countries around the world but there is only one Fly By Wire.

"It's an experience of flight and freedom."