A small microlight aircraft piloted by a Southland man went to the rescue of bigger planes who were unnerved by Southland's strong winds near Gore yesterday.
Pilots from throughout New Zealand have gathered in Gore for the annual Recreational Aircraft Association of New Zealand national fly-in.
They will participate in competitions, navigational exercises and scenic flights around Southland.
This is the first time Southland has hosted the national fly-in.
Wet and windy conditions forced about six pilots headed for the national fly-in to stop over at Mandeville and reassess the strong winds over the Hokonui Hills.
In a microlight aircraft about 500 metres in the air, Wyndham pilot Bradley Yorke told The Southland Times how he flew in the rain, hail or snow - it was Southland, after all.
We flew to Mandeville to "guide" the pilots who, from throughout New Zealand, were not familiar with Southland's flying conditions, back to the Gore airstrip.
The winds were strong and tugged at the small aircraft but Mr Yorke persisted, using the Mataura River as his map.
"Camaraderie" was the word he used to describe the national fly-ins, which was quite fitting to the situation as he guided pilots through the valley.
"There are all different people but with a common interest. I've made a huge amount of friends which makes it a lot of fun," he said.
By the afternoon more than 50 pilots had registered with more expected to arrive today.
North Island pilot Stan Hyde said he flew down on Thursday and it was his first time flying so far south.
The fly-ins were a good chance to catch up with friends and enjoy some local flying, he said.
Today the pilots will do a navigation exercise, which involves pilots making a word from letters mowed in to paddocks as far as Edendale.