Just for fun: Grant Stewart flies a 1950 de Havilland Chipmunk trainer


A well-regarded Milford pilot’s pulled pin on his commercial flying career.

Best known as a radio broadcaster, formerly Queenstown-based Grant Stewart has  flown since 2001, mostly plying the Milford tourist route — originally for Air Fiordland and latterly for Mark Quickfall’s Milford Sound Scenic Flights.

He credits Quickfall for employing him after Ngai Tahu Tourism Helicopters laid him off when it downsized after Covid struck two years ago.

However, considering he had to come ‘‘over the hill’’ from his new home near Wānaka to get to work, he says the job didn’t remunerate him sufficiently.

Plus he needed to pay for two medicals a year.

Still, he looks back fondly on his years in the air — notching almost 6800 hours flying VFR (visual flight rules) ‘‘is a long time in this area, when each flight’s only about an hour’’.

Stewart, 59, is staying well embedded in aviation with two Civil Aviation Authority safety management roles for a massive engineering/flying company’s Wānaka base.

Having become custodian of a rare 1950 de Havilland Chipmunk trainer, he’ll also continue flying, albeit privately.

‘‘They were designed to replace the Tiger Moth for the RAF, and this still has the original RAF paint job on it.’’