History was made when British Air Commodore Owen Truelove touched down at Whangarei Airport - but in true gliding fashion it was a quiet affair.
The landing represented the end of an epic 14,700 nautical-mile journey that began when he left his home in Cornwall, England on September 15.
When he arrived in Onerahi at the weekend it was the first time an aviator had flown from England to New Zealand in a motorised glider.
The 67-year-old's flight path crossed more than 20 countries including Germany, Oman, India Malaysia and Australia and 170 hours flying time to complete.
The former RAF engineer completed the last league of the journey - the 530 nautical mile trip from Norfolk Island - in just over five hours.
Mr Truelove's son James, who lives in Queenstown, and his four-year-old grandson Kaikane were standing on the Whangarei tarmac waiting to meet him.
After months of isolation, it was an emotional reunion, Mr Truelove said.
Mr Truelove visits New Zealand once a year to sample what he believes are the best thermal air currents in the world at Omarama in the South Island.
His journey began after he had asked a friend in England who regularly ships gliders to New Zealand if there was space for Mr Truelove's $400,000 Stemme motorised glider.
"He said no and then said `why don't you fly it there'."
Mr Truelove decided to take his friend up on the suggestion - besides, such a flight had never been attempted before.
His glider is a state-of-the-art German machine with foldaway wings and a retractable propeller.
It also contains a full kit of satellite phone, GPS, scores of maps, a survival bag, a life raft and shark repellent.
While Mr Truelove had to prepare for the worst, he made the journey with only a few minor problems.
The highlight of the journey was being hosted by Saudi royalty while the low point was being stranded in India for 16 days with engine problems.
The engine got plenty of use.
Originally, Mr Truelove had planned to use it for take-offs and maintaining height on long sea journeys.
However, air traffic restrictions in the Middle East and South East Asia meant that gliding was not possible.
Without the engine, the trip would have taken 10 months rather than 10 weeks, he said.
The loneliest part of the journey had been travelling across the Tasman Sea, he said.
"I had to keep myself amused.
"Someone told me to buy one of those MP3 machines but I just sung to myself - I'm the only one who would want to listen to me sing," he said.
He is yet to decide whether he will make the return trip home in March.
"I might just put it in a box and ship it home," he said.
He plans to write a book about the journey entitled "Are you crazy?".
The title was inspired by a response from a Kiwi pilot after hearing Mr Truelove's flight plans.
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