War­birds take to the skies for Ar­mistice

Eastern Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - PJ TAY­LOR

‘‘It's hoped weather will per­mit the BE2c to par­tic­i­pate in the fly­ing pro­gramme.’’

Ar­mistice Day 99 years ago marked the sign­ing of the agree­ment that ended World War I.

This Sun­day, Novem­ber 12, the NZ War­birds, based at Ard­more Air­port, will com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary and sac­ri­fice of those who served by open­ing the doors of its hangars to dis­play the huge va­ri­ety of fly­ing war­bird air­craft of all eras.

Tony Miller, of the NZ War­birds As­so­ci­a­tion, says the cen­tre­piece of this year’s event is the dis­play of a re­pro­duc­tion WWI air­craft, a Royal Air­craft Fac­tory (RAF) BE2c fighter bomber.

‘‘This air­craft is a new-build from orig­i­nal draw­ings and photo ref­er­ences,’’ he says.

‘‘The Air Force re­turn with the T-6C Texan II, the new tur­bo­prop trainer ac­com­pa­nied by the Beech King Air B200 - a high per­for­mance com­mu­ni­ca­tions/trans­port/ multi-en­gine trainer, and Har­vard 1015 from the RNZAF His­toric Flight.’’

The Great War of 1914-1918 was one of the most dev­as­tat­ing events in his­tory.

‘‘New Zealand, with a pop­u­la­tion of 1.1 mil­lion in 1914, sent 100,000 men and women abroad,’’ Miller says.

‘‘Of those, 16,700 died and over 40,000 were wounded - a higher per capita rate than any other na­tion in­volved.

‘‘The com­ing of peace on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 brought blessed re­lief for all in­volved.’’

On Ar­mistice Day 1918, New Zealand had 58,129 troops in the field, while an ad­di­tional 10,000 were un­der train­ing in this coun­try.

In to­tal, troops pro­vided for for­eign-ser­vice by NZ dur­ing WWI rep­re­sented 10 per cent of its 1914 pop­u­la­tion be­tween the ages of 20 and 45.

The sign­ing of the Ar­mistice is ob­served each year in NZ at 11am ev­ery Novem­ber 11. Two min­utes si­lence is ob­served in mem­ory of those New Zealan­ders who died while serv­ing their coun­try.

‘‘The NZ War­birds As­so­ci­a­tion is the um­brella body ded­i­cated to the restora­tion, preser­va­tion and op­er­a­tion of ser­vice air­craft in full fly­ing con­di­tion for the en­joy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tion New Zealan­ders,’’ Miller says.

Based at Ard­more Air­port, the ma­jor­ity of the former ser­vice air­craft are syn­di­cate owned.

The Roar­ing For­ties pre­ci­sion aer­o­batic team, fly­ing ex-RNZAF Har­vards, are flag bear­ers for the NZ War­birds on the sum­mer air show cir­cuit.

Gates open at 9am this Sun­day, with the first fly­ing dis­plays from 11am. More fly­ing dis­plays fea­tur­ing a va­ri­ety of ex-mil­i­tary train­ing and fighter air­craft show­ing their ca­pa­bil­i­ties will be held dur­ing the af­ter­noon.

‘‘It’s hoped that weather and op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters will per­mit the fea­tured BE2c air­craft to par­tic­i­pate in the fly­ing pro­gramme,’’ Miller says.

Ard­more-based fly­ing train­ing clubs will be present and dis­play­ing a va­ri­ety of their equip­ment, while vet­eran cars, mo­tor­bikes and jeeps will also be on show.

Food and re­fresh­ments will be avail­able, and en­try costs $20, with chil­dren un­der 14 free.

En­try fee in­cludes free park­ing and also the chance to win a lucky draw flight in a War­bird air­craft. The Kid­szone will also have a va­ri­ety of amuse­ment at­trac­tions for chil­dren.

SUP­PLIED

A first-class replica of a RAF BE2c will be on dis­play at this Sun­day’s open day event at Ard­more Air­port.

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