While the International Air Show held in New Zealand this January can’t be described as the most impressive that I’ve attended, legendary ‘Jetman’ aka Yves Rossy stole the show hands down (or should I say, wings out).

With a sky of acrobatic WWII Robins in full formation, this Swiss pilot flew with the best of them, literally.

Jetman, as you may well have heard through international news, flies with a wingsuit-come-glider strapped to his shoulders.  It is more technical than that, of course.  Once you have thrown in jet turbines and years of commercial pilot experience, it is little wonder Rossy gravitated to wanting to push the boundaries of human flight.

He’s certainly a showman, and for very good reason.  Yves Rossy is the first and only man in aviation history to fly with a jet-propelled wing.

Jetman Yves Rossy flying in New Zealand 2013

And, when in New Zealand – one does as the Kiwis do.   We are known for our adventurous spirit, and not to be out-trumped, I’m sure that’s why Jetman hatched a cunning plan over morning tea.  Chatting with local New Zealand pilots performing at the Air Show, they decided on paper to pull a manuovre they’d never tried before.  And why not? It was the inaugural International Air Show after all (the first by that name, not by nature).

Not only would Jetman put on a fine display with this own jetpack wings, he would fly in formation with these World War II planes.  Yes, in formation.  All over a cup of tea (the plans, not the flight path).  Bless.

Not one, but three different formations.  Because there was no time to practice, Rossy was going to call the shots through his headset, whereby not only the pilots but the crowds below would be able to hear it all.

And it all unfolded, in sleepy New Zealand on a glorious summer’s day in January.  Nice.

Jetman clung to the side of a helicopter, dismounted and activated intermittent smoke trail, climbed the skies on a joy ride, only to merge like a zip with a group of five Robins flying in formation.

Jetman Yves Rossy flying in formation with WWII Robins NZ

At times it looked like they were painting State Highway 1 in the skies above the Dairy Flat airfield.

Unfortunately, this was just about the only highlight of the International Air Show, so I won’t go into too much detail other than I would hedge my bets there will not be a second (not by this event organiser anyway).  While a great location, massive viewing screens, camera’s mounted in the cockpits and headsets, and ample facilities, sadly it lacked a few planes.

For more information about Jetman, check out the official website.

Rodeos complete with bucking broncos, bull riders, barrel racing and steer wrestling may seem an odd choice of entertainment for a city girl, but every summer I am drawn to the sheer fascination of the sights and sounds of the New Zealand Rodeo circuit.

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Sometimes I think we should pause and appreciate just how very awesome New Zealand is. For those Kiwis who live in New Zealand and haven’t travelled a lot, it’s sometimes difficult to put New Zealand into a box.

It is ‘home’ and modestly we nod and agree and say we’d like to bring up our children here, regardless of the offshore travels we may make while we are young.

For those ex-pats reflecting on life in New Zealand, it can look quiet and uneventful compared to the rest of the world with its noise and staggering volume of headline news.

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The opportunity to fly to New York for a long weekend sounded almost decadent.  After two weeks in Alaska, a mere diversion to New York seemed as simple as walking the long way home after school.  In theory.

It was a rather dog-legged diversion, as it turned out. But it’s not every day this Kiwi Girl gets to see her big sister in her resident hometown NYC, and the invitation to ‘live like a local’ on Manhattan Island, if only for a few days, was too tempting to miss.

After flying for 7 hours, Fairbanks-Minneapolis-LaGuardia NYC, I was certainly ready for a refreshment.  Approaching *Tribeca on a Friday evening, ready for a cold refreshment at Tinys,  there were a number of points to ponder:

  • At +40 degrees Celsius in July, how was I going to survive with a suitcase full of -40 weather I’d lugged to Alaska?
  • New Yorkers seemed outrageously polite, was there a catch?
  • Must all Yellow Cab drivers go through stunt-man training before they get their licence?
  • Does everyone who drives over Brooklyn Bridge for the first time have Empire State of Mind spinning around their brain, or was it just me?

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Alaska isn’t just about snow, ice and polar bears.  The number of internal waterways is astounding.  Alaska has more than 12,000 rivers. Just out of Fairbanks, a world away from the sprawling university-trucker town, you’ll find the Chena River.

If you are looking to deepen your understanding of the Athabascan culture and history and would like to see a beautiful side of the Alaskan Interior, a trip down the Chena River, Fairbanks is worth every dollar.  Odds are you’ll need to hire a boat, or take a journey on the resident Steamboat, Discovery II.

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