I guess an air show doesn't really have much connection to a blog more about riding motorcycles than anything else....but I did have to ride to get there!!.....and what a good idea that was!!
Having served 20 years in the Air Force, when I heard about the Air Show I thought, 'Hmmm, it's been awhile...I've been out 19 years and haven't been to an air show in that time. I guess the last one I went to was when the Air Force celebrated its 50th, I was at Wigram and had to go as a worker. Well, it is the 75th so should be a good one, but then again, it's the end of the financial year and I should be tidying up the accounts......I'll think about it.'
That was ages ago and I didn't think about it too much, but as the end of the week approached and the weather was looking great, I was pretty well on top of things at work....well almost..sort of....so bugger it, I bought a ticket.
Saturday morning rolled up and I had a reasonably early start getting up a bit after 0600 to get on the road before 0715, but I still had ½ a tank of gas on board so wouldn't need to fuel, so figured I should be arriving around 0845'ish.....yeah right! Before I had gone 1Km I realised that perhaps just a T-shirt under the jacket was a bit light for 9°, but I wasn't stopping just for for that as it was only just on the limit, and I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the road for that time on a Saturday morning.
The cages were moving along at a good pace but as I passed all the usual markers that see a drop off in traffic, (Porirua, then Paraparaumu, then Waikanae) and it stayed just as steady, I realised that they must be all going to the same place as me. Oh well, that was good as a bit of traffic does make riding SH1 a little more interesting!
After a few fluctuations in temperature between 13° and back to 9° and an endless procession of overtaking manouvres I was rolling into Sanson at 0845, having averaged 91kph to that point, when 1Km from the turnoff, the steady stream became a solid, stationery lump!! Oh bother, but she'll be right, I just continued up the outside, only to notice that SH3 from Palmy was a solid lump as well, and to get onto SH3 I had to slip between two cars then swing back around onto the outside of the new queue and it was on on...it's only about 3Km to Ohakea from here!!
As the road split to two lanes I had to cross the yellows to get around the last couple of vehicles and back on my way, which even the cop coming the other way didn't seem to mind me doing, and then I noticed the show traffic were all being diverted down Fagan Rd.....bugger, I wondered as I passed Speedie Rd if I should have turned and now I was to end up back on it. In places the traffic had obviously been sitting for a bit as some people were standing by their cars, but I followed a couple on a Beemer, then somehow ended up in front of them finally parking up at 0910, taking 25Mins to go the last 13.4Km at an average of 31kph. It was certainly a good idea to pre-buy the entry ticket as that put me straight into a queue entering the airfield.
I had soon stripped off and stowed the bike gear, chatted briefly to Nudemetalz, then ran straight into Bandit Rider, spotted 85GSXR, then got onwith the job of checking out the displays and old haunts, (not that there was free access to do much of that). I did get to stroll through some displays in what used to be the maintenance and 75sqn hangars as well as have a look through the Avionics Workshops (although they had been built after I was based at OH but before I got out of the service). I was surprised to see a couple of chaps in there who had been in when I was. It was also a surprise to see the Aussy 77Sqn Hornet decked out in there colours with that laughing dog thingy on the tail as the last time I saw an aircraft in those colours it was a Mirage.
That done, it was out onto the airfield to watch the aerial displays....bloody marvelous. I enjoyed seeing the Bristol & Fokker have a bit of a mock dog fight, the sound of the Mustang and Spitfire is always sweet to hear and there's just something about those aircraft that sets them apart from the rest. The sound of the Hunter was a nostalgia trip back to days spent on the flightline in Singapore...the droning roar from a Hunter is quite unique. It was the first time I'd ever seen an Avenger in the air (although I was in a queue for a steak sandwich and drink at the time). I didn't take a lot of notice of the Iroquois as I'd enjoyed a few antics in them over the jungles of Malaysia, but it was the first time I'd seen a Seasprite up close and personal and that was good. The Kiwi Blue Parachute team were OK and the 757 was nice to see. I'd missed the Red Checkers and the Harvards were as noisy as ever, it was good to see a Vampire again and the Gyrocopter was interesting but the best of all (for me) was the MX2 and the Hornet.
It actually looked like the MX2 did a forward Somersault???!!!....bloody hell, and then tail slides and death spirals are always cool......but the Hornets! Four of them put on a nice display of precision flying...but the single aircraft display near the end of the day was just brutal.....and this from an aircraft that came out in the late 70's. To see it sort of wallowing along the length of the airfield, virtually in a stall, then just power out to a vertical climb with no after burner...wow!!
Cool stuff. That all done I departed at 1455 after a chat with 85GSXR, and headed out straight down Tangimoana Rd, across Campion Rd to SH1, and back into another steady stream. This time the temperature was much more pleasant at around 20°, and I made it back to Mana by 1628 for an average of 81kph, filled with 98 octane at the BP (managing to squeeze 25Ltr in for $59) then finished the day at the office, preparing for Monday and a new year.
What a great day! It was well worth the effort and such a joy to be riding a bike! Whilst chatting to a mate who now works on the Seasprites, a foreigner joined us, mentioning that he was in Sanson at 0830 and didn't get to the airshow until 1030!!??.....2 hours to do 3Km (OK well really 12+Km), then when I was preparing to depart a family that were enjoying an ice cream by the bike explained that they got to Sanson, then parked up and walked!! They were the smart ones. There were quite a few bikesa there though and the organisers provided ply pads for the side stands, that was nice and having the ST to be able to stow all the gear was a blessing...especially once the temp started ramping up into the 20's.
Every now and then, even Long John enjoys a short social ride (that's apart from Slow Handling Rides) and on this occasion I had to endure a very sedate pootle around the Wellington Bays.
Since the last ride was just last weekend and this week has seen some rather cool and inclement weather, the usual pre-ride protocols weren't all followed in that yesterday, I glanced at the bike since it was in the way and I had to get around it on the way to the freezer in the garage, but it didn't manage to get cleaned. This morning I stowed the camera, hi-viz jackets (I suppose I should wear them more often) spare scivvy and glasses, then checked the tyre pressures (which were still spot on) and hit the road.
The stormy conditions from last night had abated and it was a picture perfect, sunny day, with the harbour a veritable mill pond as I cruised up SH2 to make my way to Caltex Rimutaka for fuel before meeting at Brown Owl. By the time we left at 1000, we had over 20 bikes and for a change, I was neither lead nor TEC. We scooted back to to Riverstone Terraces and I found myself at No2 after the Totara Park Lights so, pulled up to mark the corner at Moonshine Rd, then continued as part of a group of 6 through the narrow, curly road to Judgeford then around the first of our Bays between Pauatahanui and Plimmerton. With no corner marker at Bulls Run Rd and our sub-group leader unsure of the direction, I slipped through to the lead from here as we made our way back to SH1 and Johnsonville, picking up corner markers along the way until we must have grown to 10 or 12 by the time we got to Ironside Rd, where once again, with no marker, I paused until all had gone through, as from here it was a pretty straight forward run through to our second bay at Makara.
Once we were on the Ohariu Valley Rd, I did pass most of the group again and enjoyed an easy pace, although I still only lifted my average from J'ville to Makara from 39kph over the 1st couple of Km's to 48kph!!
From here I assumed the TEC position and followed the group to Karori and up to the lookout on Wrights Hill (where we could see almost all the Wellington Bays), then slipped down Messines Rd to Bowen St, negotiated all the traffic and lights as we slipped around the quays, through Oriental and Evans Bays (where to break the monotony I had to go right around both the big round-abouts), then had another pause at Shelly Bay (because the sign said 'No Stopping' but unfortunately the No Stopping sign has gone).
The wind had come up by the time we were heading around Whitby and by now the harbour was full of white caps and we had to push into a stiff gale to the Massey Memorial, but once around the point, it was unnoticable as we were either heading downwind or sheltered altogether. More very sedate pootling through Karaka Bay, Worser Bay, over to Breaker Bay, around Lyall Bay and Houghton Bay and we were finally at The Bach in Island Bay at 1327hrs where I settled down to enjoy a very large date scone, which was more like a date loaf, and a bowl latte.
...and an hour later I was heading for home.
It was a rather pleasant day with plenty of riders turning up and in the end I managed 166Km with a moving average of 50kph and overall Avg of 27kph at an economy of 17.5Km/Ltr. The bike now has 11,240Km so it's not too far off the next service.
Today was a Dawn ride to watch the sun come up at Castlepoint. That event was scheduled for 0715, which meant an 0500 start from Brown Owl, which in turn meant an 0330 alarm!! Yuk!
Oh well, alarm went, I slid out of bed and into the shower, dried off, kitted up and hit the road by 0407 having already checked the tyres etc last night. It was “A Starry Starry Night” and therefore we were pretty much guaranteed a sunrise viewing, the temp was a pleasant 15°, there was little traffic and I had a clean run through to Caltex Rimutaka where I filled, then waited to ensure all riders continued on to the Brown Owl meeting point.
Since I arrived near the end of the briefing, I had barely got off the bike and was back on it again to head for Featherston, then Masterton, pulling into Faulkners Mobil at 0613, then I took the lead out at 0619.
There were 27 bikes on the ride, though I only had 4 or 5 in my mirrors on the way out, as I tried to sit on and maintain 100kph. Even at that, it looked like we would be cutting it fine as I entered the destination at Mobil to get an eta and that was initially 0709. Not a worry though as the eta kept reducing, but by the time we got to Tinui, the sky was getting rather bright and I was starting to have a few doubts about getting there early enough.
A couple of times on the way out, the temp plummeted to 10° so I was thankful for the extra scivvy I had on and a couple of the guys mentioned how their visors had fogged, but as I ride with mine up, I didn't notice that (plus the Qwest comes with a pinlock).
We averaged 88kph and ended up pulling in at 0704 and by the time the sun did show itself at 0715, all but 2 or 3 riders had arrived. Photos were taken, fat was chewed and 30 minutes later we were back on the road to Wild Oats for breakfast.
I waited for the last rider to be ready, leading them out at a sedate pace until a bit past Tinui where we caught a group of 4 bikes. At that point my economy was sitting on 18Km/Ltr, but I dealt to that by deciding to clear the cobwebs and moved into a rather crisp pace. I bypassed Mastertn by taking the turnoff for Wainuioru, then onto Lees-Pakaraka Rd and through Gladstone. This proabably added about 10Km, but with no 50Km zones and hoping for minimal enforcement at that time of day, I still arrived a bit under the original eta at 0842, doing the 92Km at an average of 97kph and blowing the economy back to 16.7Km/Ltr.....that was fun!!
A big buffet breakfast was enjoyed and Wild Oats did very well to cater for such a large group, so an hour later and a little bloated I was on the road for home.
We all pretty much went our own ways from here and I road home alone, maintaining a crisp but easy pace over the hill. It was made a little more intereting as a stiff breeze made its presence fellt on the way up and I really got blasted as I came through the road works, being pushed of track enough to collect a traffic cone with the crash bar. Not to worry, I was home by 1046 doing the last 84Km at an average of 78kph and the 348Km for the day at a moving average of 83kph and the bike now has 11,059Km on it.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.