Omaka Air Show

As you may know I don’t travel much these days, but I made an exception last weekend and travelled up to Blenheim to see the Omaka Veteran War Birds Air Craft Display, this took place over three days of the Easter Weekend.

Mark had given me a Gold Pass to the Omaka Air Show, As well as the transport and accommodation, to see and enjoy the three day display. The reason for his generosity was because it was combined Christmas and Birthday Presents. A a bit over the top I thought too as presents go. But he was also keen to attend, as his father was a pathfinder pilot in World War Two, flying mosquitoes. Unfortunately its rebuild wasn’t completed in time, so it didn’t show up. Not only all of the above, Mark managed to secure our accommodation, even when the town was booked out solid, for at least six months back, maybe even longer. I know this for a fact from talking to a lady alongside me in the stand. She had come across from Perth and she told me she only found out, that a room had been obtained only two weeks ago, when she received a call from the accommodation people due to a late cancellation. She wasn’t bothered at all that her bed was over in Picton.

I knew from news reports, that the wine industry everywhere, is having a bad time, with overproduction. I didn’t need the news reports to tell me what was happening, as anyone with half an eye can see the stacks of cheap wine for sale in our Supermarkets. All being dumped over here by Australian growers. There was also more than a few empty shops in and around Blenheim So this little accommodation enterprise that Mark had found, was Mum’s operation. And I suppose it made more than a welcome boost to the families income.

Anyway we ended up in a very ‘swept up’ bed an in a bed & breakfast home, that was situated in the midst of their vineyard. This was all thanks to the internet, which Mark had scoured. We enjoyed a bedroom, with an en suit. Plus a lounge, dinning room, As well as every home comfort you could possibly imagine. Someone must have thought too that they had a couple of captive bunnies too, as there was also an invitation sent along with our tickets to the Airshow inviting us out to another vineyard with a restaurant, to partake in a four or five course dinner at $150 each. Or possibly I’m out of touch what fine dinning costs these days. To keep our feet on the ground, we enjoyed a Thai Green pork curry, plus a large bowl of rice, in Kaikoura all for $10 each. It was so good we stopped on our return trip, and did the same again. It was worth three times the cost. We did dine out at a very up market restaurant for dinner one night and enjoyed that meal very much.

The Gold pass entitled us to a seat in the special stand, access to real toilets, with hot water and towels, certainly not the Port a Loos of which there were large stacks of them for the multitude, plus an entry into special dinning areas. However the whole area was well catered for, with many concessions serving food and other entertainment. The Air Show its self was brilliant, and spread over three days. I would say, that now it leaves Wanaka’s Air Show in the shade. For something like this you require someone with deep pockets as Wanaka had in the past. Sir Tim Wallace was the catalyst and the initial main sponsor, but he seems to be withdrawing from active involvement mainly because of ill health. And further, he has sold off some of his feature aircraft. Omaka now has Sir Peter Jackson, who owns about ten World War aircraft, both German and Allied, Fokker, albatross, triplanes, which were actually flying, as well as being on display

The Air Show featured many of the Air Force’s training Aircraft that all New Zealanders who trained as pilots are familiar with. As well there were all of the fighters our squadrons were equipped, with. Kittyhawks, P40’s, Corsairs, Mustangs, Spitfires, Hurricanes, even the lumbering Catalina. There were also many WWII German Aircraft, such as Focke Wulf, and the deadly Junkers and Meserschmitte. As well Russian and Chinese also well represented. They had as well static displays of ten times more aircraft. Another feature was all the flying was carried out in your face, we were situated only 50 yards from the strip. I was talking to Mac’s mechanic, while seeing him off from his last inspection visit.. He too had been to the show and said that when he went to an American Air Show, certainly there were more aircraft to see, but everything shown was in the far distance.

The most impressive aircraft in my mind was a high performance glider that had belonged to the late Steve Fossett. It had a small ‘pop up’ engine which enabled it to take off right under our nose. When the engine was retracted it made several silent passes back and forth at speeds of up to 240 knots, with no further assistance from any power source. No wonder he broke so many gliding records with this machine.

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