Avgeeks following the flight pattern of Air New Zealand flight NZ4376 on May 15th would have been in for a treat, as a Boeing 787-9 took a path that traced out a kiwi, the national bird of New Zealand. Considering the actual kiwi bird isn’t capable of flight, this is one of the rare occasions you’ll ‘see’ it in the sky. Let’s look at why the airline conducted this special service.
A special flight for children
It’s not just planespotters and flight-trackers who enjoyed the flight. Onboard flight NZ4376 were 50 Koru Care kids. Koru Care is a charity that creates “once-in-a-lifetime experiences for Kiwi kids who need them the most,” as the beneficiaries of Koru Care are children with a range of illnesses and disabilities.
Therefore, the special 787-9 flight that took place today, May 15th, was Air Zealand’s way of providing a special experience for some of the children of Koru Care, an organization that was actually started by a team of volunteers from the airline.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">It's not every day you get to see a kiwi in the sky, but there was one today! Check out our awesome Koru Care flight path 💜✈️ <a href="https://t.co/Od5mcusf9V">pic.twitter.com/Od5mcusf9V</a></p>— Air New Zealand✈️ (@FlyAirNZ) <a href="https://twitter.com/FlyAirNZ/status/1393405151830962178?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 15, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
“For over 35 years, Air New Zealand and Koru Care have had the privilege of creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for Kiwi kids who need them the most.
Koru Care is now an official charity with four branches around New Zealand. Each of the four branches are independent and run by teams of dedicated volunteers.”
-Air New Zealand website
With our focus on aviation, let’s take a look at the more technical side of the flight.
The special service took off at 12:10 on Saturday, May 15th, from Christchurch Airport (CHC). Returning at 14:52 local time, the flight had a total duration of two hours and 41 minutes, according to data from RadarBox.com, and was operated by a Boeing 787-9.
The 787-9 operating this service wasn’t just any regular aircraft from Air New Zealand’s fleet of 14 Dreamliners. Rather, the aircraft was registered ZK-NZE, the airline’s only 787 painted in a special all-black livery. The other 13 jets sport the standard livery with mainly white body and all-black tail.
Flight data shows that the aircraft climbed to roughly 26,000 feet (7,900 meters) to begin its drawing of the bird. After reaching the “tip of the beak,” it looks like the aircraft descended slightly, to 19,000 feet (5,800 meters), to draw the underside of the kiwi, including the remainder of its beak and two feet.
Air New Zealand’s connection with Koru Care
Air New Zealand says that its link with Koru Care is still strong after 35 years. In addition to flight support, airline employees still volunteer their time to make trips extra special for children. This includes creating homemade costumes, holding a ‘leaving party’ at the Air New Zealand lounge, inflight care, and even traveling with the kids as guardians to allow parents some well-earned time off.