Air Chathams can expect a big welcome when Whanganui Airport stages a special open day on Sunday.

The privately owned air service is taking over the Whanganui-Auckland run being vacated by Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand's last flight is into the city on Sunday afternoon with Air Chathams' first flight leaving Whanganui at 6.55am the next day.

Allan MacGibbon, the airport manager, said the open day was being well supported by community organisations and local aviators.

Mr MacGibbon said Air Wanganui will be rolling out its new Kingair 200 - one of two Kingair aircraft used to provide the city's vital medical links and charter services around New Zealand.


"The Wanganui Aero Club will be giving youngsters the chance to look at, and handle the controls of, a light aircraft - on the ground of course. They will also have a range of club and member's aircraft on display.

"If you want to learn to be a private pilot, talk to them. In fact they will be offering trial flights."

The Vintage Car Club will have a range of historic vehicles on show while the Wanganui Aero Modellers will be in the Aero Club building with a number of models displayed.
The control tour restoration group will have the control tower open on Sunday to show its displays of Whanganui's aviation history.

Whanganui Women's Refuge and Brain Injury Whanganui will also have a presence as Air Chathams sponsors both organisations.

Mr MacGibbon said Hill Country Helicopters' MD 500 helicopter and a PAC Cresco top dresser operated by Ravensdown Aerowork will also be on display.

And he said they were hoping that John Luff and his Venom jet will visit on Sunday as well as Richmond Harding in his classic Tiger Moth.

"Air Chathams will have their SAAB 340 and Metroliner on display and open to the public. In addition their DC3 and a World War 2 Catalina will be offering scenic flights from the airport. And there will also be a display by a Vampire and a formation of Yak aircraft."

Free parking will be signposted and entry to the open day is through the Wanganui Aero Club clubrooms and out onto the airport.