ANZAC Day Commemorations at Rangitata Island
With this year being the centenary of the start of WWI, ANZAC Day takes on more importance and a group of locals decided to try running a family-friendly celebration at the historic Rangitata Island airfield south of Ashburton.
With plans in place for a book on military vehicles, the Historical Aviation Film Unit team of Alex Mitchell and Allan Udy were going down for the day, would I like to go along for a look? It seemed like a good idea so I agreed to join in.
I was not prepared for the range of displays and activities on offer and the organisers were absolutely thrilled with the huge response from the local population who turned up in their thousands on a stunning autumn day to see military reenactments, flying displays from a Tiger Moth and Chipmunk as well as the comings and goings of visiting aircraft all day.
Vintage and classic cars filled much of a huge paddock, traction engines and vintage tractors were giving displays of agricultural practices from yesteryear and the local model aeroplane club put on a flying display of some of the best looking flying scale models I have seen.
This was the first time the event had been held and the organisers were not sure what response they would get. Now they are scratching their heads and working out how to make it bigger and better for next year and the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.
The action was in the sky as well as the ground. Bevan Dewes takes off in his De Havilland Chipmunk, the actual aircraft the Duke of Edinburgh (as in Mr Queen Elizabeth II) learnt to fly in
The Rangitata Island ANZAC Day celebration was a real hands-on affair