The Fly My Sky Story Continues in 1998 When We First Started Flying to Great Barrier Island
1998 - Great Barrier Island
The volcanic Ring of Fire in the Pacific Basin stretches from Hawaii to New Zealand and has caused islands like Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf to erupt from the surface of the sea millions of years ago. Its soil, landscape and vegetation are similar to the Ruapehu District, both being of volcanic origin. Because the weather changes in the mountains could not allow daily flights, Keith and Robyn wanted to secure a daily income for its fleet of aircraft and established a schedule flight service between Auckland and Great Barrier Island in 1998. The size of the aircraft increased and the number increased to eight.
2001 NZ Tourism Award Best Small Business
To evaluate and improve their business skills over the years they entered the New Zealand Tourism Awards and New Zealand Business Development Quality Awards between 1995 and 2001. The awards speak for them selves: winning the Tourism Best Small Business Award in 1996, becoming Tourism Award finalists several times since and winning the NZ Business Development Quality Award twice which gave the couple the opportunity to tour American and visit USA Quality Award winning companies.
Keith recues people off the mountains of the Tongariro National Park, often in difficult conditions and helps Police to catch an armed runaway, earning him a QSM in 2001.
2000 - Air Kaitaia
While carrying post and bank data between Auckland to Whangarei each morning and afternoon Keith and Robyn operated a service called Air Kaitaia between Auckland, Whangarei and Kaitaia using Piper Aztecs.
2001 - Terrorism & Tourism
Global terrorism exploded into the world of international travel, many uncertainties arose for people and New Zealand, being isolated at the bottom of the world, became a destination where people could experience an awesome out door environment safely. Between them, the two had collected knowledge of just about every corner of remote New Zealand and the quality assurance skills needed to provide an authentic and quality ‘off the beaten track’ air service
2005 - Parachute Training From a BN2
Fly My Sky (t/a Mountain Air at the time) delivers a parachute configured Britten Norman Islander to the NZ military for parachute training and adds another Britten Norman Island (BN2) ZK-SFK to the fleet.
2006 - OPC Opens at Orama by Sir Ed & PM
2006 Fly My Sky becomes a Qualmark Endorsed Tourism Business. In November Nigel Davies of Great Barrier Island, ex Airforce and Air New Zealand pilot, becomes the Training and Standards Manager.
Hillary Outdoors Great Barrier Island is opened at Orama by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Prime Minister Helen Clark. Fly My Sky supports the venture and flies Helen Clark and her entourage to the opening, landing at the closest airfield on GBI, Okiwi, returning her to Auckland later the same day. This Outdoor Pursuit Centre (OPC) is a venture initiated from the Ruapehu OPC on the Volcanic Plateau, where Fly My Sky originated.
2007 - Mountain Air Becomes Fly My Sky
We re-brand to ‘Fly My Sky’ when the ‘Mountain Air’ name, along with the scenic flight base at Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, is sold. Keith continues to train Mountain Air pilots to land on remote Whanganui River airfields and operate his helicopter off the Chateau Airfield at the base of Mt Ruapehu.
2007 - Castaway TV Series Filmed on GBI
March 2007 the Castaway TV series is filmed on GBI by a UK film company, a huge contingent of international film makers and series participants fly with Fly My Sky.
2008 - Electronic Booking System
Whangarei Freight run carrying NZ Post freight is reduced from two to one afternoon return flight from Auckland per day, due to secure online data flow taking over from manual transport of critical bank and business data. By 21st November online data transfer took over and this contracted service stopped along with our Air Kaitaia service.
October 2008 Robyn takes over company administration role for next four years when the company administrator in Taumarunui became ill.
November 2008 Rose arrives to manage Flight Operations Auckland. Photo of Rose in Auckland office in ‘pink’ hi-vis vest to assist passengers to board 2008 a Fly My Sky branded check-in and website was launched with an online booking capability and better customer and flight management capabilities. We changed our uniform and we added ‘So Let’s Go!’ to our jackets.
2009 - Claris Office Manned
December 2009 Cathy starts work at the Claris airfield, becoming our first Great Barrier Island office person, since we started this service in 1998, to assist our pilots with passengers, luggage and freight. The pilots and passengers wholeheartedly approved of the help and service this provided. Various photos of staff A priority freight opportunity for passengers was introduced, which is most appreciated when parts are required to repair a generator.
2011 - New Great Barrier Terminal
The new Great Barrier Island Claris Airport terminal was opened for occupation by Auckland Council in early 2011. Fly My Sky moved out of their one room building, they were particularly thrilled to have enough room for passengers to sit and access to a toilet and kitchenette under the same roof.
2012 - Finalist Auckland South Business Awards
Fly My Sky entered Auckland South Business Awards and became a Finalist. Ormiston Hospital won the award.
Colin Harris joined Fly My Sky as Training and Standards Manager, taking over from Nigel. Colin was just retired from Air New Zealand in his role as an international pilot and Check and Training Captain.Tongariro Crossing erupts.
2013 - Fire in January
A January fire closed Claris Airport haphazardly over two weeks. Claris was closed and all flights were diverted to Okiwi. Our pilot experiences severe wind sheer at Okiwi causing a hard landing. The aircraft was flown back to Ardmore for repairs hanging under a helicopter, minus its engines to reduce weight. When Claris reopened, whenever the smoke blew away from the runways, a fire truck backed into the tail of our parked Fly My Sky plane causing substantial damage. Not a good summer for us.
Fly My Sky receives the Qualmark Enviro Silver Award for their two year environmental fuel management program.
2014 - GBI June storm does $10mil damage
A fresh website is launched and the Fly My Sky Facebook page. Fly My Sky embraces an Environmental Care program to try to make sure no pests board the aircraft. They educate passengers, look for skink eggs on pot plants and promote prevention of Kauri dieback and other foot and gear transported fungi arriving in GBI. DOC awards Fly My Sky a Pest Free Warrant.
Auckland Airport Company change the configuration of the arrival area overnight, they remove the luggage conveyor belt the passengers use without telling them. The ever changing configuration of gates and aircraft parking at Auckland becomes a daily challenge to get passengers into aircraft and to depart on time. Staff car parking is shifted miles away to Park and Ride, creating another days end challenge to find the car in the vast and glistening sea of parked cars. 2014 another Britten Norman Islander ZK-EVO arrives.
2015 - GBI Walking and cycle tracks restored
Fly My Sky consolidates and continues to operate with ease 14 return flights on a busy day between Auckland and Claris. Keith and Robyn are keen on the Britten Norman Islander aircraft because it has two engines, is designed for island hopping where population density is relatively low, is straight forward to maintain and cost increases to passengers are about infrastructure increases and not aircraft purchase driven. Over time they plan that these aircraft will be restored to pristine, off the production line, condition.
Fly My Sky is keen to promote environmental care participation and involvement around Great Barrier Island. They take pride in being involved in bird rescue transportation, pest control, fuel and environmental management projects.
2015 the passion still burns strongly.
Nearly fifty years on Keith’s passion for flying still burns strongly. He still talks about the personal discipline required, about honing skills and practice still needed. He talks about the West Coast of the South Island, the Tongariro National Park and Great Barrier Island with a deep and obviously enduring fondness. He holds a lifelong passion for the beauty and experiences of remote New Zealand.