Special shapes over Waikato

Once again the prospect of watching colourful balloons floating across the skies of Hamilton has proved a public highlight on the Waikato events calendar.

The setting of the Waikato Balloon Festival at Innes Common alongside Hamilton Lake is hard to beat. The tranquil lake, the large green sports fields and an abundance of ducks and other wildlife make for an attractive backdrop to the colour and sheer size of the balloons.

Beginning early on a Wednesday morning, the Hamilton event traditionally kicks off with the Mass Ascension, involving all of the balloons drifting into the morning sky only a few minutes apart. Sadly, the weather gods provided what some might call a typically foggy start to the day in Hamilton. Many of the balloons inflated in hopes the fog might clear, but alas this didn’t happen in time for any to fly away.

However, most did inflate and a few did go up on tether, at least allowing the crowd to see the balloons in the air.
The weather improved significantly on Thursday and Friday mornings which allowed the much anticipated flying action to get under way. The balloons were airborne from Innes Common with the pilots tasked with dropping markers on targets laid outside the park and downwind of the launch site.

As it turned out, these were the only two mornings that the balloons managed to get away from the launch zone. Saturday and Sunday offered too much wind for safe flying, and especially strong upper air movement sealed the fact. This didn’t stop the balloons from being inflated, however, much to the enjoyment of the gathered crowd, but it did make for some difficult moments for the pilots and crews.

Key to the Waikato festival’s popularity is the continued appearance of special shape envelopes. This year event organisers had secured no fewer than four of these wonderful cartoon-like character balloons. Listening to the children, there didn’t seem to be a clear favourite, suggesting that the organisers had chosen well...


Gala occasion marks 150th anniversary

Government House in Wellington was the appropriate venue on 1 April for over 100 members and partners of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Aeronautical Society to mark two RAeS anniversaries—the 150th anniversary of the formation of the RAeS itself and the 70th anniversary of the NZ Division.

The dinner was hosted by His Excellency Lt Gen the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Mateparae, with special guest Air Chf Mshl Sir Stephen Dalton, president elect of the UK RAeS. Other senior guests included Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon, CAA Director Graeme Harris and Acting Chief of Air Force, Air Cdre Darren Webb.

NZDF helicopter changeover

The last of the SH-2G(NZ) Seasprites has been retired, replaced by eight of these SH-2G(I) models. 

The retirement of the New Zealand Defence Force Seasprite SH-2G(NZ) naval helicopters was marked with a small celebration on 14 April as part of a change of command ceremony held at RNZAF Base Auckland. The NZ model helicopters will be replaced by eight of the newer SH-2G(I) model. 

The last flight of the NZ model took place a week later when the remaining aircraft returned from assisting the cyclone recovery operation in Fiji. The two Seasprites were flown off HMNZS Canterbury and returned to Whenuapai...

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