I have no interest in planes. How, therefore, did I find myself at the 2014 Tauranga City Airshow, ‘Classics of the Sky’? It was all for you, dear reader, and for my plane (and train)-obsessed father.
The day was set to be perfectly miserable. There wasn’t a patch of blue in the sky. It was raining when we got there, and the wind was so ferocious it was all I could do to keep my camera steady. For a while we worried we wouldn’t see the Spitfire fly at all.
As I walked along the rows of old planes, taking pictures and forgetting their names as quickly as my dad informed me of them, I saw what looked like the set of M*A*S*H – war recreationists were in our midst: Americans, New Zealanders, Soviets and Germans. It was wonderfully done and they all seemed to be having a ball – especially the Soviets, for some reason.
I also noticed that there were an absolute shedload of campervans around – this event was obviously extremely popular with tourists, and I could see why, for, as I have stated, I have no interest in planes, but even I was having a good time.
I couldn’t stop quoting Blackadder Goes Forth.
Because of the uncertainty of the weather, the display schedule was randomised, meaning the entire spectacle didn’t flow as well as it should have done, but this barely mattered. There were some absolutely outstanding moments, such as the police demonstration of how they use dogs to help catch criminals – the ‘criminals’ in question having ‘hijacked’ a plane – and the breathtaking show of pyrotechnics at the end.
The pyrotechnics were supposed to accompany the airshow’s main event, which I’ll tell you about in a minute, but that had come earlier because of the weather. Instead, they accompanied a just-as-fun, Top Gear-inspired race between a super-fast Audi and a beat-up old car dropped from a helicopter. The dropped car won, but the Audi had suffered a false start.
There were quite a few different stalls at the show, mostly selling chips, drinks and doughnuts, but there was one that sold fossils and crystals, which seemed to me a little out of place. However, my mum and grandpa got a couple of presents for my sister, who’s into that sort of thing, but hadn’t come with us to the airshow.
My dad’s present was far greater: Les Munro, the last surviving member of the Dam Busters, signed his programme.
The best part of the day for me – and, no doubt, for the majority of the people present – was the airshow’s main event, a choreographed dogfight between ‘Roy Brown’ in a Sopwith Camel and ‘the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen’ in a Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker. (Cue the Blackadder quotes.) There were even soldiers on the ground shooting up at them. It was fantastic.
The Tauranga City Airshow happens every two years, so if you’re travelling around New Zealand in 2016, there’s a fun day out for you – even if you have no interest in planes.