Buzz over flyer’s 40th


A well-known Queenstown aviator has achieved a major milestone – four decades in the air.

Wednesday marked 40 years since chopper company owner Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson first flew solo.

She gained her wings on this Wakatipu Aero Club Cessna 172 before getting her commercial fixed-wing and helicopter pilot’s licences three years later.

Patterson, who recalls coming to Queenstown in 1976 to ski and to learn to fly, has since recorded about 12,500 hours in the air, flying both fixed-wing craft like top-dressing Fletchers and Air New Zealand Fokkers, and helicopters.

She set up her high-end chopper company Over The Top in Auckland in 1986, before relocating it to Queenstown three years later.

Asked how she feels about notching up 40 years, Patterson has a one-word reply: “Lucky.”