Pilots on a special mission

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The large knitted poppy and star being flown around New Zealand.

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The large knitted poppy and star being flown around New Zealand.

TIGER Moth will arrive at Invercargill airport next Thursday as part of the nationwide Poppy Flight Project before Anzac Day.

A fundraiser for the RSA (Returned Services Association), NZ Warbirds Association and The Starship Foundation, the relay would bring down a bag containing two 1m square canvases, one a giant poppy and the other a star which would be added to at each destination by local crafts people.

Travel broker Melanie Salisbury, who planned and escorted aviation tours through her business Aviation Tours NZ, came up with the idea.

“We are gathering hand-knitted poppies at each destination from local crafters. These will be added to our giant poppy and star, and flown to the next stop, to create impressive works of art as we go.”

At the end of the journey, the artworks would be donated to charity, with the star going to The Starship Foundation, and the poppy to the RSA.

As well as poppies, donations were also being collected for the fundraiser.

Ms Salisbury said more than 30 volunteer pilots would each fly a sector on the flight to 30 towns throughout the country, with the Tiger Moth expected to arrive in Invercargill from Taieri about 1.30pm.

It was a way of encouraging people to remember those who fought for our freedom, many of whom paid the ultimate price, and encourage people to think about our returned service personnel who needed our help and support now, she said.

The flight was also about encouraging people to think about and support children and their families who were dealing with illness and challenges.

The Tiger Moth and pilot Ben Morrison would be met by a group of Invercargill City Council youth councillors and senior councillors.

A welcome event would also be held at the Invercargill Public Library, where a poppy making afternoon would be held from 1pm-5pm to add to the artwork.

Materials would be supplied, but people were encouraged to bring their own crochet and knitting needles if they had any.

Paper crafts for children to create their own stars or poppies would also be available.

The Tiger Moth would leave Invercargill, heading to Queenstown the next day, Friday, April 9.

  • For more information or to donate, go to www.poppyflight.co.nz
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