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.
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.