“IF there’s time to spare, go by air.”
Those were the words of Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre representative Laurie Officer who was the ground officer for the arrival of a Tiger Moth at the Southern Wings Invercargill base last week.
He was part of a national relay to raise money for the Returned and Services Association (RSA), the Starship Foundation and the New Zealand Warbirds Association.
Flying the one-seater Tiger Moth was Croyden pilot Ben Morrison – but he did not fly alone.
With him was a payload of hand-knitted Anzac poppies and stars, as well as two pieces of knitted artwork, which would eventually be donated to the RSA and Starship.
Poppy Flight organiser Melanie Salisbury said pilots would change at each stop at more than 30 airstrips throughout New Zealand, where knitted poppies and stars would be collected for sale.
While early morning fog had initially held off the flight, it successfully made its way to the deep south on Thursday afternoon, travelling from Mandeville to Taieri, back to Mandeville and then on to Invercargill.
“It was pretty cool, literally – it gets quite chilly in my seat,” Mr Morrison said.
He put his hand up to volunteer, not just because it was something he was passionate about, but because his grandfather fought in World War 2 so it was extra close to his heart.
Watching the landing was Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill City Youth Council representatives and Southern Wings Invercargill cadets.
Youth council co-ordinator Gemma Crawford said when they were approached by Poppy Flight organisers to get involved, youth councillors rushed to put their hands up.
“We took it to a council meeting and invited councillors to come along.
“Youth council traditionally do something for Anzac Day and this was something a bit different.”
Following the plane’s arrival, a knitting session was organised at Invercargill City Libraries and Archives where keen creators got to making poppies and stars to add to the collection for sale.
The Tiger Moth was flown to Queenstown the following day for the next leg of the relay.