Queenstown’s got a new rush – fighter jet plane rides at 500 kilometres per hour.
Experienced aviator Peter Meadows is running his high-end scenic and aerobatic flights from Queenstown Airport, after relocating from Tauranga and, latterly, Wanaka.
Meadows says his fleet comprises some nostalgic, classic aircraft known worldwide – a 1941 American-built Harvard trainer, its Russian 1996 Yak 52, and a 1973 Delfin fighter jet, built in the Czech Republic, which cruises at 500kmh.
Prices for 20 to 30-minute scenic cruises range from $495 for the Yak, $595 for the Harvard – and up to $2200 for the jet.
All three planes can perform aerobatics but Meadows says most clients only want to do a couple of loops and rolls.
Two companies offered thrill-flights in a Pitts Specials several years ago but Meadows now has the only aerobatic aircraft in Queenstown.
Meadows claims his company Double X Aviation is the only operator in the world able to fly passengers in military aircraft after getting adventure aviation clearance from NZ’s Civil Aviation Authority.
“NZ was 30 years behind the world but now we’re world leaders,” he says.
Meadows started set up Double X Aviation in Tauranga two years ago but says it didn’t work out because the city lacked infrastructure like tourist hotels.
This year he relocated to Wanaka but says his work was mainly coming from Queenstown.
His business is now sharing space at the airport with the Wakatipu Aero Club.
Although the planes collectively cost about $500,000 to buy, Meadows says they’re also very expensive to run.
“If we don’t get the support of Queenstown, then we don’t survive,” he says.
Meadows, 60, has been flying for 30 years but says he also has wide experience in hospitality and adventure tourism.