Nights at a Round Table
Grand Champion at last month’s SAA Great Plains Fly-in at Ashburton was the new Glasair III of Graham Bethell and John Crawford, seen in a clear but cool dawn …
Everyone has heard of the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table. The knights were men of courage, honour, dignity, courtesy and nobleness. They protected ladies and young damsels, honoured and fought for kings and undertook dangerous quests.
Fairy tale you say—but remember, most fairy tales contain a grain of truth.
Recently I went in search of some truths. I spent several days and nights sitting around round tables, mainly talking aviation but sometimes the conversation went beyond the airfield and onto wider issues—the young, the old, technology, the Feds, common family and friends. You know, the sort of talk that fixes the world, if only we had the power.
Participants at the Sport Aircraft Association’s biennial Great Plains Fly-in were on the whole more interested in talking about fixing, making or restoring aeroplanes. A common characteristic that endears me to these gentlemen engineers is that they are earnest, honourable, honest, trustworthy and have well-mannered natures. Always willing to help a mate out and look after those damsels in distress.
King Arthur’s knights (it is said) had a similar code of conduct. Though reading between the lines and calculating all the half-brothers/sisters and affairs, I believe the brave knights had a tough time sticking to just saving the damsels from said dragons.
The steeds that the SAA pilots attend the biennial fly-in with, I always find fascinating. Everything from bi-wing to fling-wing to stunted wings. The adventurous tales of the journeys are always good for an hour or two of entertainment in the evenings, enhanced by a good brew of liquid. Especially when told by a talented court jester.
The Red Dragon of King Arthur’s emblem represented their allegiance to the King. All aircraft I am happy to report arrived with a fire in the bellies. Many are powered by VWs and the King and Queen of VWs were happily in attendance (Evan and Penny).
Tournaments were always part of Arthurian legends. Knights competed against each other in shows of strength and agility. These would usually provide entertainment for the locals, and knights could impress the fair maidens.
The Ashburton fly-in had the usual competitions of bombing, landing and a navigation trail (always a good skill to have, pre-GPS). This year the flying competitions were judged by Evan Belworthy and his fair wife Penny. Lancelot took out a fair number of the prizes but I am happy to say was sufficiently distracted from causing his usual mischief. The steeds/aeroplanes were also judged as to who was the prettiest (in build and look).
Camelot was legendary for replenishing guests and horses from afar. As in olden days the hospitality at Ashburton was once again second to none, with a constant supply of food and beverage from dawn to dusk.
The banquet held in the great hall was, as usual, superb. Great aviators and builders were toasted and awarded silver cups. The Holy Grail (grand champion) went to the best in show, a Glasair III. The rightful holder of the Holy Grail was supposed to be of pure nature and live a stainless life (the Fisher King). I suppose in these modern days we have to accept composite constructions.
Knights were known for going off on crusades, to show strength, prowess and defend them (ancient Mesopotamia being said to be the birthplace of the wheel). We also had one visitation from a Messy local, namely Laurie Prouting who provided us with post breakfast entertainment, centred on cold climes.
Merlin, the magician and guardian of young Arthur, made a brief appearance on Saturday (Alan). As did the Lady of the Lake (Pam). Having given many in Canterbury the magic of flight, it was fitting that she was in attendance. The Green Knight was seen doing the impossible again (flying a Quickie and surviving a beheading are the same in my book).
On Sunday I was lucky enough to go for a fly up-river. My pilot was a true knight in shining armour. Not only did he take this damsel flying but he recognised when the heat and lumps were making her green—one gentle turn, an increase in height to get away from the lumps and a direct line for base leg.
Afterwards, while I was having a wee lie down, I thought of this:
On either side the river lie (Ashburton lies between the Rangitata and Rakaia)
Long fields of barley and of rye (and lots of wheat)
That clothe the wold and meet the sky; (aeroplanes are good for that)
And thro’ the field the road runs by (roads everywhere, all over Canterbury)
To many-tower’d Camelot; (many runway vectors at Ashburton)
The yellow-leaved water lily (check out the botanical gardens)
The green-sheathed daffodilly (in spring)
Tremble in the water chilly (those glacier-fed mountain rivers again)
Round about Shalott. (where we flew to was a convergence of rivers with a few little islands)
See you in Avalon (Island of the Apples), Bridge Pa, February 2016.
- Report by Bernice Hintz, photographs by Bernice Hintz & John King.
» Summer success at the Walsh
» The luxury of living in the Ivory Tower
» Comper moves swiftly
» UAV usefulness increasing
» Woodville’s even dozen
» 60th birthday party for ZK-BNL
» New airline MRO facility
» Hands across the Southern Alps
» Praise earned in tough place