Thursday, November 26, 2020

Dangerous Skies

Last weekend I had to pleasure of being the Chief Ground Judge for the Flying NZ Alpine regional competition. This was held at Omaka aerodrome near Blenheim and was hosted by Marlborough Aero Club.

I arrived after a Sounds Air flight into Woodbourne aerodrome on Friday evening. After checking into the motel (Cherylea Motel is really very comfortable and the prices were great), it was time for a brief visit to Omaka to see how things were set up and meet a few people.

It was stormy - thunder and lightning included - which made for a nice evening [nothing like a good storm to start the weekend off!]

Omaka airfield from the Marlborough Aero Club clubrooms

Competition day itself dawned cool with gentle breezes and ended very warm with close to 30 knot breezes. It was definitely fun watching others try to land and drop [simulated] bombs and liferafts in those conditions...

Dangerous Skies

Each regional competition finishes with a presentation dinner on the Saturday evening. Marlborough Aero Club arranged for their dinner to be held at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in their amazing WW2 display called Dangerous Skies. What an incredible place! It's not large, but exceptionally well designed! We were sitting in an open central area surrounded by old aircraft - what's not to like?

These first three aircraft are actually flyable [as in, they fly from time to time]. You probably wouldn't know it from what way they are integrated into the displays. just incredible!

First up is a Yakovlev Yak3M, ZK-VVS. This has previously competed in the Reno Air Races and still flies around the Omaka area.

Yakovlev Yak-3M, ZK-VVS, operated by Fighter Flights of Blenheim

Next up is a Flug Werk FW190A-8/N, ZK-RFR. This is also airworthy and one of very few of these aircraft still flying wordwide.

Flug Werk FW190A-8/N, Zk-RVR, operated by Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection of a Blenheim address

Last up is something a little different. ZK-AGC is a Fleet 16B and is operated by a local owner.

Fleet 16B, ZK-AGC

Next up are some equally impressive non-flying models.

First is a Lockheed Model 14. I understand that this is a real machine, rescued from a jungle somewhere and preserved with the display created around it. You'd be hard pressed to not believe that the "dirt" and many of the plants are not real.

Lockheed Model 14 display

One of the few "not real" aircraft in the display is this full-sized model of a Junkers JU87 Stuka which is hanging from the ceiling. Although low enough that I could reach up to one of the wheels, I completed missed this at first as I came around a corner and saw the Yak3M shown above 😐

Junker JU87 Stuka model

Lastly, it's worthy of note that this entire display is the work of local people. It is juts stunning. Well worth a few dollars to go and visit it!

There is also a WW1 focused display in the next building [entry is at additional cost] which is a little larger and also very impressive [and also with a number of flyable aircraft in the collection]. All-in-all, it's well worth a visit!