With some friends from the Camera Club, I went to two places yesterday.
I am going to write about only one of them. The school fair and Scarecrow festival at Gladstone in the Wairarapa was very nice, and in other circumstances would have got fair coverage. However the competition was the Remembrance Day Airshow put on by the Vintage Aviator collection at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton. And I offer more images in one day than in any previous edition. If aircraft are not your thing, please come back tomorrow.
You needn’t have been reading these for very long to know that I am a total aviation nut, so almost anything else takes second place. So, the airshow it is. This is an airshow like no other on earth. I seriously doubt that a similar specialized collection exists anywhere else.
The Vintage Aviator Collection consists of a mixture of restorations and reproductions of WWI aircraft. To the greatest extent possible, original parts are used, but where the originals are unavailable, they simply make new items to the original specifications. Their website outlines their many astonishing achievements.
The line up outside the hanger is simply amazing. On the Allied side of the war, there are SE5As (3), a BE2c, BE2f, FE2b, Sopwith Pup, Sopwith Triplane, Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Snipe, Avro 504K, a Bristol F2B and a Nieuport Bebe.
On the German side, there are Fokkers galore. There Are DR1s (3), DVII and DVIII (2), as well as Albatros DII and Albatross DVas (2) and a Pfalz DIII. There is doped fabric, varnished wood and tight flying wires. There are authentic colour schemes exact replicas of famous aircraft flown by famous war heroes.
And lest we forget these are fighting machines with a lethal purpose. Young men went to war in machines just like these. The bombs and guns were not dummies and their intention was to kill the enemy.
At the start of the war, the aircraft were slender fragile objects By 1918, they had acquired some muscle and bulked up considerably.
To my pacifist friends, I am sorry, but the achievements in this field of endeavour have always fascinated me.
I have admiration for the engineering feats, for the problems overcome, for the imaginative use of materials. Above all, I have admiration for the astounding courage of those who flew these aircraft.
So many different solutions to the problems encountered resulted in a great variety of aircraft of differing shapes, sizes and purposes, but all required great courage to fly.
Some were agile and powerful others were slow and lumbering and needed protection by other aircraft.
Even without the guns and bombs, these things could kill you if mishandled. I have read that more Sopwith Camel pilots died in training than were shot down by the enemy.
It was almost impossible for the novice pilot to recover from a spin in a Camel, and at some stages of the war, the life expectancy of the pilots was such that most were novices.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them“*
*Ode to the fallen, by Lawrence Binyon