Tuesday 24 November 2020

Trains and boats and planes

What a joy it is, when public transport works as it should! And, to be fair, as it usually does, in my experience: so, well done, AT. Today there was a seamless transition from ferry to train, which took me into the trackless (well actually of course not, seeing as how I was on a train) wastes of southern Auckland, to Papakura. There I was met by Gary from Ardmore Airfield, and the rest of the day was all about planes.

Not your boring everyday Boeings and Airbuses, but aircraft full of personality and awesomeness, dating from 1912 to 1964 - famous and iconic planes including Tiger Moth, Harvard, Skyhawk, Mustang, Aermacchi, Fokker, and even a Polikarpov. I first saw one of those at the Flying Heritage Museum near Everett, Washington state, about ten years ago. That was where I first heard the amazing story of the Night Witches, women who insisted on doing their bit for Russia in WW2, and ended up becoming the Germans' worst nightmare, swooping silently over the lines at night and shoving bombs out over the side of their open biplanes. Astonishing.

Regular 😀 readers will recall that I am an airman's daughter, so it was especially interesting to me to follow the rapid progression learner pilots like Dad - teenagers! - would have made, from Tiger Moth to Harvard to Kittyhawk and then into action, with the enemy shooting at them from the ground and from other planes. Getting up close to the planes and seeing how basic and flimsy they are was a real education, and very sobering to consider.

There are two hangars, WWI and WW2, with most of the planes owned by syndicates of enthusiasts, but the whole set-up owing a huge debt - fortunately, just of gratitude - to a man who turned up unannounced one day, saying he'd just won $24 million on Lotto, had set his family up, and now was "going to do what I want". Which was indulge his passion for planes. So what had been a very small hobby arrangement has now become an impressive collection of over 30 assorted aircraft, almost every one of them capable of being flown.

Which is why I was there: to publicise their upcoming Warbirds on Parade event, when there will be a number of air displays including a bi- and tri-plane dogfight, and, star of the show, an actual Spitfire showing off and fixing forever in everybody's memories that unmistakable throaty clatter - which I last heard in 2018 as I walked along the top of the White Cliffs of Dover one bright summer afternoon... 

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...