How does it feel to loop the loop in a Tiger Moth, take flight in a helicopter or skydive from 12,000 feet? Katherine Robinson asks serial, aerial adventurers Amanda and Ricardo Borgo.
Originally from Brazil, Amanda and Ricardo settled in Masterton 18 months ago. A biologist and engineer respectively, both found work in IT. They love New Zealand’s outdoors but up to this point have kept their feet firmly on the ground, exploring the tramping tracks of the Tararuas. A suggestion from Amanda’s brother, that they should try skydiving, led them to Skydive Wellington and the big, open skies above Hood Aerodrome.
“Many people say ‘ah, skydiving is too dangerous’ but you are more likely to be hurt driving to the airfield. Before our jump, we were given training and told how to keep safe. And it was a tandem jump so we were harnessed to an instructor.” says Ricardo.
For Amanda, thinking about the skydive in the flight beforehand was scarier than the actual jump.
“I was very nervous but we were told that it’s better if you focus on good things otherwise you will spoil it for yourself. Once you jump, it does feel strange not being able to find the ground under your feet, but after that you just enjoy it – it’s an amazing sensation,” she says.
“You feel the wind rush past you and you enjoy the moment of free-falling. I cannot explain the sensation, but I would just say that when I put my foot to the ground, I thought to myself, ‘I want to do it again and again’. I’d like to do it again and be more relaxed about it,” says Ricardo.
After that, a flight in a Tiger Moth and actually staying in the plane should be a cinch, right?
A two-seater biplane with a big history, Tiger Moths were used as a training plane for air force pilots from the 1930s onwards. The 130hp engine sounds only a little throatier than the family lawn-mower but this plane is sturdy and well maintained by members of the Sport & Vintage Aviation Society of New Zealand (SVASNZ). It is still used to perform aerobatics – and that’s where the thrill factor kicks in.
Boosted by a coffee at Hood Aerodrome’s Kittyhawk Café, Ricardo and Amanda gear up for open-cockpit flight in flying suits, puffer jackets, and vintage headgear. On our couple, it’s less Biggles, more like retro chic.
Experienced pilot John Bargh prepares them for their 20 minutes in the air. “This is your flight, and we won’t do anything that you don’t want to do. We can do a loop or a barrel roll but only if you want to do it, and if you want to come back down, we can do that too. You are in control.”
No one is surprised when they both elect to do aerobatics including looping the loop on their separate flights.
“It was quite gentle climbing straight upwards, the only part that made me worry was at the top of the loop when the engine noise changes, and you head straight down towards the ground,” says Ricardo.
And for those who prefer a flight or a lesson in a modern plane, Wairarapa Aero Club operate out of Hood Aerodrome, and depending on the weather and pilot availability, can do scenic flights or lessons seven days a week.
Back firmly in the 21st Century, Ricardo and Amanda stepped inside a Wairarapa Helicopters’ Squirrel for a lightning fast trip to Martinborough and back. While there might not have been quite so much thrill-seeking, there was plenty of comfort – and no flying suits required. The vineyards, hills and plains spread out before them, and the helicopter was able to land as nimbly as a dragon fly on a patch of grass near the Ruamahanga River. It’s this kind of agility that means the chopper can take people high into the mountain ranges on scenic trips or to be dropped off for hunting.
And for the future? Well, it’s all up in the air – Ricardo and Amanda are both planning to do the 25 skydives needed to become licensed skydivers.
For more of Ricardo and Amanda’s aerial adventures, see Ricardo’s videos on
George Hood Centre, Hood Aerodrome, South Road, Masterton
For more details visit: skydivewellington.nz, waihelicopters.com
Find details for SVASNZ and the Wairarapa Aero Club through their Facebook pages.
Kittyhawk Café, open for coffee and lunch over the weekends. Also available for functions. Open: 8.00am – 4.00pm, Sat, Sun. PH: 06 372 2666