Legendary Kiwi airman and "genuinely nice guy" Trevor Thomas (TT) Bland will be given a spectacular send-off at Ardmore Airfield today.
Mr Bland, an aerobatic pilot and the founder of the New Zealand Warbirds Association, died on Saturday, aged 78, at Auckland City Hospital. He suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Three flypasts by the Roaring Forties aerobatic team of five Harvard aircrafts in "missing man" formation, as well as appearances by a DC3 and Mustang, will send Mr Bland off in style.
Yesterday, daughter Claire Barlow, mayor of the Mackenzie District, paid tribute to her "extremely diligent" father who was passionate about flying.
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Mr Bland began his distinguished RNZAF flying career training at Ohakea before being posted to Singapore as part of the Malaysian emergency in 1955-58. He later moved to Britain and joined the RAF and flew Hawker Hunter jets in the Blue Diamonds aerobatic team.
In 1963, he returned to New Zealand and rejoined the RNZAF, later becoming the first Flight Commander of 75 Skyhawk Squadron.
A civil aviation career followed with Air New Zealand, Southern World Airlines and Polynesian Airlines. After meeting Sir Tim Wallis he became one of Australasia's most accomplished display pilots and a regular star of the Wanaka airshow.
In 1978, he founded the New Zealand Warbirds Association.
He is survived by his wife Kathy, four daughters and two step-children.