Retracing the route taken by famed aviatrix Jean Batten when she made the first-ever solo flight from England to New Zealand during October 1936, Airscapade‘s Douglas DC-3C N451ZS arrived in Auckland, New Zealand following a 22 day trip from Lydd Airport in Kent, UK, though given the recreational nature of the trip their transit time was double the 11 day pace set by Ms. Batten 76 years ago.
Airscapade is the brainchild of Mark Oremland, a New Zealander who runs a successful travel agency in Paris, France. He purchased the DC-3 which had been in storage for years in Dunsford, Surrey in the United Kingdom and had it ferried to Pontoise in Northern France for the restoration and maintenance required for it to make the transglobal trip. While the prep work went down to the wire with six technicians working on the aircraft as the deadline approached, the plane was completed on time and departed for England on schedule to begin her extraordinary journey.
Lydd Airport had been chosen as the official departure point for the flight to New Zealand as it was the closest airport to Lympne, from where Jean Batten departed for her historic journey to New Zealand all those years ago.
Jean Batten was born in Rotorua, New Zealand and was perhaps the most internationally-famous New Zealander of the 1930s, making a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world. For the flight recreated by Airscapade, Batten was at the controls of her Percival Gull Six which today is on display at Auckland Airport, suspended from the ceiling of the facility’s passenger terminal.
Airscapades’ DC-3 was originally built in 1942 as a Douglas R-4D for the US Navy, and completed the trip from Britain to New Zealand in a total flying time of 90 hours and 46 minutes. A day after the DC-3’s arrival in Auckland, it departed for a 12 day tour of New Zealand, before going to its new base at Te Anau Airport in the southwestern corner of the South Island where it will begin a new career making sightseeing flights around the archipelago.