The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust (ORHT) will once again be the recipient of funds from the annual Rotary Club of Wānaka Cropping Competition.

Competition organiser George Scott says this year’s funds will go towards the establishment of an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) path which will allow pilots to fly into Wānaka when visibility is poor.

“The instrument flying route is important to farmers,” George said.

“If accidents happen when the weather isn’t great you can get that helicopter right through to Wānaka; it just saves time and gets them back to Dunedin quicker.”

Under current flight rules the rescue helicopter can only fly as far as Dunstan Hospital in bad visibility. To fly into Wānaka a preassigned flight path using IFR must be established.

“This will provide an extension of the route into Dunstan Hospital and will complete IFR structure routes back to destination hospitals, in particular to Dunedin and Christchurch Hospitals,” ORHT secretary manager Vivienne Seaton said. 

“Many missions that would previously have been impossible because of low cloud can now be responded to, greatly reducing the number of occasions on which weather conditions prevent a response.”

Last year the cropping competition raised over $50,000 and George says he expects this year’s event to be a success with sponsors reconfirming their involvement.

“They’ve all been very positive about wanting to support the competition and many have been surprised to learn that the rescue helicopter can’t get into Wānaka in bad weather,” he said.

Some funds from the competition will also go to the Otago Rural Support Trust, a charitable organisation providing support to the rural community in difficult times.

Competition judging will take place in May with winners announced at a dinner and fundraising auction at the Lake Hāwea Community Centre on Friday June 10.

PHOTO: Wānaka App