Sir Peter Jackson — movie director, now also plane maker



Jackson gives wartime Albatros wings

Small Business - | 5:00AM - Monday, 03 May 2010

MORE KUDOS: The sky's the limit for Sir Peter Jackson's replica
plane building company. — CRAIG SIMCOX/The Dominion Post.

His movies are Oscar winners, he's just been made a knight and now a company owned by Sir Peter Jackson is in the running for a Wellington Gold Award.

The Vintage Aviator, based in Kilbirnie, builds working and display replicas of World War I aircraft, engines and propellers for its customers — typically private collectors and museums.

Sir Peter is not listed as a director or shareholder of the company, but it is understood the self-confessed vintage aviation hobbyist owns the firm through a trust arrangement.

The Vintage Aviator is a finalist in the "discovering gold" category in the business Gold Awards, which recognises innovative research and development projects, for its recreation of an airworthy Albatros DVa — a fighter plane used by the Imperial German Air Service.

Just two original Albatros D series planes survive today.

HIGH-FLYING: Vintage Aviator's recreation of an airworthy Albatros DVa has made it an award contender. — Wairarapa News.

The Vintage Aviator's replica was built using an original Mercedes engine and modern know-how, including laser scanning technology to create a digital model of the aircraft's fuselage.

The absence of factory plans for the plane's instruments and hardware meant it had to specify materials and determine the size of parts using sketches, photographs and reports on aircraft captured by the Allies, it says.

"It became a cross between a great mystery and a jigsaw puzzle with a dash of history thrown in."

The company — incorporated in 2007 — is building more Albatros models, due for completion this year.

It claims to be the only vintage aircraft manufacturer in the world to set up a proper production factory, and is one of three manufacturers in New Zealand to have gained approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to make aircraft, says internal auditor Denys Pinfold.

Last year it was a finalist in the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards.

"We've built up in just a few short years to become world-renowned in this area."

A crew of about 45 research and craft the planes and their parts, including specialised wood workers, welders, machinists and staff "experienced in the complexities of fabric-covered aircraft".

The company is currently building aircraft — including more German fighter planes — and overhauling engines for customers in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.

Its resume of aircraft includes various British, French and German models from the early twentieth century, such as a Fokker DV11, two FE.2b bombers and a 1912 BE2c De Havilland — which belongs to Sir Peter's private collection.

The firm's handiwork has wowed crowds at airshows, and is often displayed at the Hood Aerodrome in Masterton and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre near Blenheim.

Sick youngsters flying high after vintage aircraft tour

By TANYA KATTERNS - The Dominion Post | 5:00AM - Monday, 03 May 2010

A group of sick children from Wellington children's hospital have been given a guided tour of vintage aircraft owned by Oscar-winning director Sir Peter Jackson.

The King Kong of New Zealand's film industry allowed the eight young patients to check out his valuable vintage war-plane collection, housed in the hangar of Masterton's Old Stick and Rudder Company on Saturday.

Vintage Aviator, Sir Peter's company, owns about 30 replica vintage planes — many now based in leased space at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome.

The air force also helped out, with four pilots on two King Airs from Ohakea flying the children — aged between eight and 15 — from Wellington Airport to Masterton.

Wellington Hospital and Health Foundation event co-ordinator Maria Quigley said the children were nervous at the start.

"We had one little girl who hadn't flown before but by the end of it they had the biggest smiles on their faces. They just looked so excited, and one of the pilots was a woman, which was quite cool for all the girls."

Ms Quigley said it was an amazing opportunity for the children, who often missed out on a lot because of their illnesses.

"These children have a really hard time with heart issues, kidney disease or cancer and they miss out on so many childhood moments because of the amount of time they are in hospital. A little treat like this can really turn their perspective around and shows them how much more is out there."

Once their plane pulled up outside the hangar the children got to see all the World War I and II planes and climb all over the Curtiss Helldiver bi-plane replica built for the film King Kong.

But test pilot and guide Gene Demarco said they really loved riding on a replica 1910 London bus and playing with Harry, the hangar's Irish red terrier, the most. Fitting neatly with the vintage theme, the breed was used in World War I to ferry messages from the trenches.

"The kids were so enthusiastic. They were really interesting, open and inquisitive," Mr Demarco said. He hoped that for future visits children could be taken up for flights in some of the vintage planes.


Wellington Gold Awards

Company takes flight with ultimate retro-engineering

LIFTING OFF: Ben Brister, right, project team leader for the Albatros D.Va, and Malcolm Frazer, work on their second machine.

What would Biggles say? A company in the outer edges of the old Empire building German Albatros D.Va fighters could just as well have come off a 1918 production line.

Kilbirnie's The Vintage Aviator company has started work on its second Albatros D.Va after spending 18 months developing the prototype, learning how it was made and learning how to remake it in fantastic detail.

The company is one of five Discovering Gold finalists for the Gold Awards, a category which focuses on technological, scientific and innovative research and development projects.

While The Vintage Aviator specialises in building replicas of planes from the Great War, it uses everything at its disposal, such as laser scanners and computer-aided design to get its aircraft as close to the original as possible. It has already made a number of aircraft including the British FE.2b fighter and SE.5a and has plans to build the French Nieuport, among others.

The company's Denys Pinfold says the Albatros is an example of using technology to recreate aircraft that flew 90 years ago, and for which there is sometimes only patchy paperwork of the original plans.

“For the airframe there's always something missing, perhaps the plans for some wing rib size or parts you can't find proper drawings for. That's why we went to Canberra where we had learned there was one of the two left in the world in the [Australian War Memorial] museum in Canberra where we were able to make our own drawings.”

They used a laser scanner to build up a digital three-dimensional model of every centimetre of the plane.

It's also a useful technique for recreating engines.

“We found one engine that we needed, a German Oberursel, that was pretty well complete, in South America several years ago. We got that here, took it to bits, checked it out, built up new parts and put it all together again.”

“Once we've got one engine and digitised the parts from the first one and drawn it up, we can then start building successive ones.”

“We make World War 1 engines from scratch, from a block of metal, going right through to the end.”

The pains that The Vintage Aviator staff go to to make each plane as authentic as possible means they are using the same techniques — such as those used for bending wood for wingtips — that an aircraft factory worker from 90 years ago would recognise. But surely just looking like the original would be easier?

“People who come into the building and have a look are just fascinated at the levels we go to to get that authenticity. A lot of them are experts and they make the same remarks ... why bother? We say we just want it to be right, a true replica.”

Sometimes the company will do swapsies for something another vintage aircraft maker has.

“We've swapped sizeable components with a crowd in Paris. They'll say, ‘hey, we've got the water pump of the German Oberursel’, and we say, ‘OK, we'll give you a built-up fuselage of a British BE2’, and we swap them over.”

“There's quite a bit of back and forth with overseas organisations.”

The company's planes go to an aviation trust, reputedly linked to a recently knighted Wellington movie maker, which then looks after them and puts them on display.

Apparently, the trust is very reluctant to let them go offshore.

• Published by The Dominion Post newspaper on page A9 of the Tuesday, May 11, 2010 edition as part of a Wellington Gold Awards advertising feature.

I have this weird interest in old aircraft and absolutely no interest in flying, nor a belief in the theory of flight - it defies commonsense.

I fear flying and in fact would rather travel by train!!!!! - aargh, did I say that?

But these aircraft and what is happening with their manufacture is somehow fascinating

I fear flying and in fact would rather travel by train!!!!! - aargh, did I say that?

 thats an intelligent response as train crashes always have more survivors than plane crashes ;D


Nasa linked to stunning car flight

Home » News » Queenstown Lakes

Wed, 1 Apr 2015
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...A mystery pilot waves as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on loan from Sir Peter Jackson, soars over Lake Wanaka yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery


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