More than $800 has been raised to let 93-year-old Tauranga pilot Bryan Cox fly a Tiger Moth plane he flew while training for World War II.
It all started when the aircraft's current owner, Russell Brodie of Canterbury's Rangitata Island Aerodrome, asked his friend, air force historian Dave Homewood, to track down any living pilots who had flown the plane - de Havilland Tiger Moth NZ1443 - during the war.
"I thought it would be a needle in a haystack," Brodie said.
"But within about five minutes he texted me saying 'bingo', or something like that."
Homewood found an entry from December 28, 1943, for the aircraft in his long-time friend Cox's first logbook, when he was training with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
"It's amazing - Brian actually flew it and he's still flying today," Homewood said.
Thanks to new licence rules, Cox was able to get signed off for his recreational pilot's licence in January, becoming one of New Zealand's oldest pilots.
Cox said he had not flown as much as he had hoped to since, due to the cost.
After ruling out bringing the Tiger Moth up to Tauranga from Canterbury, Brodie and Homewood hatched a plan to get Cox down to the plane.
With Cox's approval, Homewood started a Givealittle campaign with a $500 goal to pay for return flights from Tauranga to Christchurch.
"I didn't even know if we would get to $500 - but we got past that in the first evening," Homewood said.
Aviation fans from all over chipped in, bringing the total to $870 as of yesterday.
Brodie said he insisted they used the extra money to fly Cambridge-based Homewood to the South Island as well.
Aiming to bring the pair down at the end of June, they have decided to make a weekend out of it and also host a gathering for local aviation buffs.
He said the Tiger Moth, which his wife had nicknamed Tigerlily, was in great condition and was still flown regularly.
"She doesn't look too bad for a 70-plus-year-old.
"I feel honoured to be able to share the old girl with these old pilots."
Bryan said he was looking forward to flying the plane again.
"It really will be quite nostalgic."
- De Havilland Tiger Moth NZ1443
- Built for the Royal New Zealand Airforce in 1942
- Used for training at Harewood Airport
- Flew 1000 hours with the Air Force
- Sold into private ownership in mid-1950s
- Brought by Russell Brodie 10 years ago
- Nicknamed Tigerlily - Lily for short.
- Source: Russell Brodie