This past week, I was helping to run the annual Flying NZ National Championships for 2023, which were hosted by the team at Marlborough Aero Club at Omaka aerodrome [NZOM]. This year we were privileged to have some sponsorship from Dr Dave and his Healthy Bastards Club [also a registered charity], including having Dr Dave as our guest speaker at the Friday evening awards presentation dinner. More on the dinner later.
This was a particularly special competition, since last year we had to cancel due to covid-related restrictions, and some additional safety risks that the pandemic posed for us. A hard decision at the time in some respects, but certainly the right one.
In any case, this year, everyone was keen to go, and this was shown by having a good number of registrations, as competitors, judges/ officials and supporters. We had people from the North Shore of Auckland to Timaru attending and everywhere in between.
The competitions themselves were held at, and in the vicinity of, Omaka Aerodrome, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday [with last Tuesday as a practice day for those that wanted it].
Being the middle of summer, the days were hot. Over 30 degrees celsius one day, and in the 20s on the others.
Marlborough Aero Club have a fantastic facility, and great relationships with many of the locals. This included the Omaka Marae for some meals, the Classic Fighters team for the mobile control tower, the military for some tents and various other suppliers who provided contents for the competitors goody bags. Nicely done!
|The outlook from the Marlborough Aero Club clubrooms|
|Some of the competitor and supporter aircraft|
|Canterbury formation team in their competition flight|
|Some more competitors|
|The mobile control tower [Omaka remained unattended]|
|One of the Marlborough Aero Club vehicles|
This year we had an even stronger focus on airmanship - which paid off with with great examples of good decision making, which just makes it even easier to run a safe and fun event. As the Contest Director, I was particularly pleased with some good go-around decisions made at times.
It was also good to host some officials from the Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] who visited over 3 days [one was put to work judging a low flying competition]. It is great to see the CAA taking an interest in what we do and how we do it.
Awards presentation dinner
Friday night was the awards presentation dinner. As I mentioned earlier, Dr Dave was our guest speaker - entertaining as always. I won't say too much, but I did get an honourable[!] mention 😂 in his presentation, but at least it wasn't my face photo-shopped in as one of the members of the naked horsemen club!! Phew!
We were also privileged to host a number of our sponsors who provide sponsorship for our Young Eagles scholarship programme, which helps young people into aviation through our member Clubs. Thank you to all our sponsors - and the preceding link has more information on this. The Young Eagles who were able to attend also seemed to enjoy themselves, including a visit to the Airbus facility at Woodbourne aerodrome and presentation of their scholarships in front of their peers, sponsors and supporters.
Very pleasing for me was that it was not only the larger Clubs taking out awards. Some of our smaller Clubs, such as Hawera, Taumaranui, and Whenuapai acquited themselves very well. This was great to see!
The location was the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. This is a fantastic place to visit on any day, but having dinner amongst the World War 2 aircraft, displays and memorabilia is something else. Awesome! These photos hardly touch on what is available at the centre [and the FW190 and Spitfire were pushed outside to make room for around 125 people who attended the dinner].
I haven't taken a lot of photos of the exhibits [go and see it for yourself], but here are a few photographs of the aircraft, replica aircraft and a Royal Canadian Air Force seat cushion[!] from World War 2.
One last thing - we could not run these competitions without the support of Clubs, Club Instructors, various Officials and of course Competitors. Thanks to all of you for making this happen!