From Merced in California to Honolulu, Honolulu to Pago Pago, Pago Pago to Auckland, Auckland to Hamilton and finally Hamilton to Whanganui.
It's been a long journey but Whanganui now has a third air ambulance to meet growing demand for the service provided by Air Wanganui.
The new air ambulance was welcomed at Whanganui Airport on Monday by Air Wanganui's directors and staff, Wanganui Air Ambulance Trust members, Whanganui District Health Board representatives and medical flight staff, members of the business community, Whanganui MP Harete Hipango and others.
Air Wanganui bought its new Beechcraft Kingair B200 from a private owner in San Diego after a search that began more than a year ago to find a suitable aircraft. The Kingair B200 is a twin turbo-prop aircraft with advanced avionics and is the third Beechcraft Kingair turbo-prop in the company's fleet.
When it arrived in New Zealand after an extensive avionics upgrade, the aircraft went to Hamilton Aero where it was refurbished, painted in Air Wanganui colours and received its airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) before landing at Whanganui Airport after a flyover at midday on Monday.
"It's very exciting, it's a huge investment," Air Wanganui chief executive Dean Martin said.
"We've got so much work on, we needed a third aircraft.
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"Three years ago, we were doing 450 flight hours a year with the current two aircraft; this year we will do around the 1400 hour mark.
"Three years ago, we were transferring 500 patients for treatment yearly. This year we have already exceeded 1100 patients across multiple regions and multiple DHBs and that doesn't include the numerous donor jobs we have done.
"This is without doubt the biggest one-off investment on the airfield for a very long time and something we are very proud of. The community of Whanganui are very fortunate that the board of Air Wanganui are very supportive of the community and very forward thinking."
Air Wanganui has provided Whanganui's air ambulance service for the past 25 years. It works with the Whanganui District Health Board and transports more than 600 patients a year from Whanganui and more than 1000 in total from around New Zealand. It currently has nine full-time staff, is employing another staff member and is likely to need a few more pilots in the near future, Martin said.
The company does not fundraise for its air ambulance services. Instead, Wanganui Air Ambulance Trust raises funds for medical equipment for the Air Wanganui service and the company's growing charter service allows it to keep air ambulance rates down.
The charter service, which is mostly used by wealthy international visitors, made it possible to purchase the new aircraft which will be used predominantly as an air ambulance but can also be converted for charter services.