Monday Apr 5, 2010
All Black captain Richie McCaw rates his 50-minute flight in an F/A-18 Hornet fighter as "right up there" among experiences of a lifetime.
His Saturday afternoon joyride was provided by the Royal Australian Air Force, which flew him from Christchurch, over the Warbirds over Wanaka airfield, and back in an aircraft that can reach speeds of 2200km/h.
McCaw said yesterday that pilot Adam Long subjected him to a physical test of G-forces right from the start, by going straight up, causing more than a little excitement.
"I think he was under instruction from [Australian rugby coach Robbie] Deans," McCaw joked.
He said he did not need to make use of the sick bags.
He had worried he might be too big for the cockpit but it seemed to be fine, he said.
"I put my measurements in a while ago and they said it was good as gold."
As a youngster, he dreamed about being a jet pilot and a lot of people rang him on Saturday evening saying "you lucky bugger".
McCaw went back to Warbirds over Wanaka yesterday on a DC-3 flight from Christchurch and, although it was his day off, spent time signing autographs and posing for photos.
He also visited the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum, which includes a display tribute to his grandfather, Flight Lieutenant Jim McCaw, who flew with Squadron (NZ) 486 in the Royal New Zealand Air Force during World War II.
There, McCaw bumped into family friends Jack and Edith Stafford, of Rotorua. Mr Stafford, 87, also flew in Squadron 486 and regularly attends the air show. Both men earned Distinguished Flying Crosses in World War II.
In 1944, Jim McCaw saved countless Londoners' lives by shooting down German V1 rockets and, when he ran out of ammunition, risked his life by bumping missiles off target using the wingtip of his Hawker Tempest.
McCaw and Mr Stafford discussed family topics and inspected Jim McCaw's uniform jacket, which McCaw said family members would wear around the family farm near Hakataramea.
McCaw, who has his private pilot's licence and is a keen glider pilot, was made an honorary RNZAF squadron leader last October.
Tens of thousands of people attended Warbirds over Wanaka over the three days.
- OTAGO DAILY TIMES