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Big prize unclaimed at Pauanui Menz Shed Parachute Drop

Official Event surveyors, Cogswell Surveyors measure which square the yellow dart dropped into.

The Gods were kind. The Pauanui Airfield was lit by midday sun and caressed by a gentle breeze. At 11am on the 21st January, 5 RNZAF jump instructors parachuted from their plane with smoke canisters attached to their ankles. Not for them a direct route to the ground. They zigzagged across the sky trailing coloured smoke, paths crossing and re-crossing.

Their leader, Warrant Officer Lev Leatherland eventually dropped a yellow streamer, with a dart painted on it, from about 40m in to the grid on the airfield. It fluttered down, blown by the wind, and finally landed about halfway along the grid, and about 2m inside the southern boundary.

All the team landed perfectly, took off their parachutes and mingled with the crowd.

This was truly a sight to remember.

Surveyors Pete McLaughlan and Andrew Watts, from Cogswells Surveys in Cambridge, had laid a virtual grid of 250,002 30cm x 30cm squares across about half the airfield. They randomly allocated 5,000 ticket numbers to 5,000 of the squares before the airforce arrived.

Immediately after the dart was dropped they had to identify the square the dart landed in. If a ticket had been allocated to that square the ticketholder would have won $50,000. The 8 squares nearest the landing square won either $2,000 or $1,000 each.

Pete and Andrew quickly and efficiently completed their calculations immediately after the drop. The winners were formally announced just before 5pm.  Pauanui Community Menz Shed president, Keith Hardy, said on Sunday:  “The day exceeded our expectations. The air force jump team was truly magnificent. We had a fantastic display of classic cars, a Venom jet made two pre-arranged passes over the airfield and the YAK pilots gave an aerobatic display late in the afternoon.

Although the first prize of $50,000 was not won the first two $2,000 prizes were for squares each only 60cm away from what would have been the winning square.  The event was a financial success and local groups who sold tickets on behalf of the Shed will each receive a donation for their help within the next few days.  Over 3,000 tickets were sold.

A large number of people and groups made this event possible and the success it turned out to be. They include our sponsors, surveyors Pete and Andrew from Cogswells, David O’Neill who acted as the independent observer required by Internal Affairs, Enterprise Pauanui for Paradise Coast, MC Warren Male, Kevin Jane and the YAK pilots, the manager and staff of the Pauanui Sports and Recreational Club and above all the numerous “Sheddies” who devoted many hours of their time for the cause.”