Mandeville fly–in proves popular
Southland Aero Club Young Eagles pose with the museum’s Aermacchi.
Some inclement weather over the country and a clash with the Tiger Moth Club’s AGM fly-in at Kaikohe at the other end of the country (see page 26) meant that visiting aircraft numbers were down for this year’s fly-in at Mandeville.
Organisers Colin and Maeva Smith delayed this year’s event until 7–8 March to coincide with the Gore District Heritage month celebrations and WWI centennial commemorations.
This year, as well as an interesting variety of light aircraft, visitors to Old Mandeville Airfield were treated to demonstrations from the Air Training Corps and local war re-enactment groups with a tank, motorcycles and an array of weapons.
They appreciated these activities, but the main attraction is always the vintage aeroplanes and there was a strong demand for joyrides in de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth and DH89 Dominie. The Croydon Aircraft Company’s restoration workshop was a magnet for many visitors who saw how the company so meticulously restores a pile of rubble to a fully-certified aircraft.
Sunday turned out to be the better of the two days with various aircraft dropping in to join other visitors in enjoying a pleasant, almost country fete atmosphere. Along with the joyrides, visitors were treated to traction engine rides, a display of classic and vintage cars, military vehicles and a WWII battle scene re-enactment.
Veteran aviator and author Guy Clapshaw was MC for the day, providing informative commentary on the aircraft present. Originally from England, Guy is a former RAF and airline pilot who has written a couple of books on his experiences. He also owns a Percival Proctor which was restored by Colin’s team and is based at Mandeville.
Among the visitors and enthusiasts was Southlander Ewen Rendel who spent a little time reminiscing about his time learning to fly in 1952 with Jack Hart, the Southland Aero Club’s first postwar CFI. Ewen said that at this time the government subsidised some club flying as a means of training pilots for service in Korea, but this was short-lived as the war ended in 1953. Ewen finished with around 40hr in Tiger Moths.
Despite the weather keeping numbers down, there was still a sense of camaraderie among those attending, both aviation and non-aviation participants.
- Report and Photographs by Peter Owens and Shane Todd.
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