Spitfire fighter star of show
THE First Light Wings and Wheels show at Gisborne airport on Saturday drew a bigger crowd than the May airshow and the star of the event, a Spitfire fighter, was a huge hit.
A crowd estimated at about 1500 went through the Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society (GAPS) hangar during the day.
“We are certainly very happy with the support today,” said GAPS president Paul Corrin.
“It was disappointing that seven of the vintage aircraft we expected, including Havards, a Percival Gull, Stearmans and a Yak were unable to get out of Auckland and Tauranga due to weather.
“But the Spitfire was just sensational and put on a beautiful display.”
Mr Corrin said they were lucky and privileged to have the aircraft here at all.
“It would not have happened without the support of Eastland Group.”
The Spitfire flew nine joyride missions while it was here and Gisborne man Ross McKeague was the first to go up.
“This was a 60th birthday present to myself, because flying in a Spit is something I have always wanted to do. I have loved them since I was a kid.
“It was bloody excellent, an absolutely amazing experience. The sound of the aircraft from inside the cockpit was just incredible.”
WarbirdsThe Spitfire was piloted by Frank Parker and Liz Needham from Warbirds in Auckland.
“It’s a lovely aeroplane to fly.
“It’s like flying a piece of history really and she handles very well, providing you treat her like the grandmother she is,” Mr Parker said.
The aircraft, now valued at $5 million, flew many combat sorties during the Second World War.
Liz Needham flies Air New Zealand commerical jet passenger aircraft for a living.
“It’s the same flying discipline with the Spitfire, but different.
“You cannot be in awe of it. You’ve got to get stuck in and fly it.
“I have had more than 26,000 flying hours. You have to admire those young guys who flew them in the war with not much more than 200 basic flying hours.”
Both pilots said they had enjoyed their time in Gisborne hugely.
“It has been a great few days to come here and support the GAPS team and what they are trying to do,” Mr Parker said.
“Certainly they have a very impressive facility here.
“It was our privilege to bring the Spit to Gisborne for the first time.”
The 27 visiting cars from the NZ Rolls Royce and Bentley Club had plenty of attention from the public.
“It has been a fantastic trip around East Cape and to be part of this show today has been amazing for us,” said club spokesman Rodney Hutchison from Auckland.
“The East Cape really turned it on for us with superb weather, and the people we have met have been great.”