Airport “Schedule Adjusted” to Accommodate Race


We’ve all seen aircraft and various types of vehicles “race” at air shows but authorities in Auckland, New Zealand, cleared both runways at the country’s largest airport, without actually closing the airport, to stage just such a spectacle. Now, the Kiwis do love their sport and the race between an Air New Zealand Boeing 777 and a racing car was to promote an international A1 Grand Prix event at Lake Taupo later this month. Car and plane roared down parallel runways not once but twice, reaching speeds of almost 200 mph before the 777 wouldn’t stay on the ground any longer and the car was running out of runway. The plane won the first race and the car nosed ahead in the second race.

By all accounts it was well worth the effort to stage the race. Car driver Johnny Reid was clearly thrilled by the experience, which earned generous coverage in the local media (which is what it was all about, right?). “It was just fantastic, a mind blowing experience. We were running out of revs pretty much just on the limit all the way down the end but we managed to blow the triple seven,” he said in a television interview. As for the airport, officials said it was the first time in their 42-year history that they’ve tweaked the schedule of arriving and departing flights to “squeeze in” something like this. Air New Zealand officials downplayed the environmental impact of the event, saying a regular test flight would have burned more fuel. The high-octane excitement at Lake Taupo goes on Jan. 18 to Jan. 20.

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