Summer flying weekends
The Hucks starter was invented by RFC Capt Bentfield Hucks and mounted on a Ford Model T chassis. Dave Cretchley prepares to start the original 400hp Liberty engine of the DH4.
The Saturday and Sunday of Anzac Weekend marked the last public viewing opportunity of the remarkable The Vintage Aviator Ltd (TVAL) collection of original, reproduction and replica WWI aircraft for the 2016 summer season.
One feature of this collection is that it is always changing. The skill and expertise of TVAL at Hood Aerodrome, run by maintenance manager Dave Cretchley and his team of workers, in building and creating new examples of WWI aircraft to add to its already world renowned collection must be seen to be believed.
Put this together with production manager and chief pilot Gene DeMarco and his team of top class pilots and ground crew, and you have the perfect match to show this unique collection of well over 30 aircraft at its best—in the air and in full view of enthralled spectators.
This season has been memorable with, on average, one new aircraft being either flown in public or displayed to the public for the first time at every month’s flying weekend.
The newest TVAL aeroplanes, in no particular order of appearance, are:
• Hanriot HD1: An original example built in 1918, this came from the RAF Museum and is now part of the TVAL collection at Masterton. It is powered by an original 110hp Le Rhône rotary engine.
• LVG C1V: Constructed over an eight-year period for TVAL by the Memorial Flight Association in France, it is powered by an original 220hp Benz B24.
• B.E. 12: A reproduction aircraft built from scratch by TVAL, it is powered by an RAF 4a V12 engine.
• B.E. 2C: Another reproduction aircraft built from scratch by TVAL, it is powered by an RAF 1a. Both of the RAF 1a and RAF 4a engines were also constructed by TVAL using reverse engineering with information gained from original engines and specifications.
• DH4: This replica was originally built in the USA and was meticulously reassembled by TVAL at Masterton. It is powered by an original 400hp Liberty A12 engine.
Maintaining and flying all the aircraft in the collection is an extremely costly exercise, so the more people who attend these weekends the better, and the charge of $20 represents good value for money. Gene DeMarco also mentioned an annual TVAL membership which gives even more options.
Provisional dates for next summer season’s flying weekends have been announced by TVAL. These are subject to change and will be confirmed on the TVAL website closer to the time: 26–27 November; 17–18 December; 28–29 January 2017; 25–26 February; 25–26 March; and 29–30 April.
Viewing times are 10am to 12noon and 2pm to 4pm both days, with an evening session on the Saturdays only from 6pm to 8pm if the weather has been unfit for flying during the day. Hangar tours will also be available on those weekends and also all other weekends during the same summer timespan.
It is interesting to note the variety of people viewing the aircraft and displays. Visitors come from not only New Zealand but also around the world. Conversation is a great way of relating information, and it is evident that good news travels fast. With visitors from Australia, America, and Europe becoming increasingly numerous, TVAL’s magnificent collection of WWI aircraft is becoming more of a magnet to aviation interested people from around the globe.
As mentioned in the February edition of Aviation News, if the development of a National Aviation Centre for Hood aerodrome continues to advance, there will be opportunities for even better museum displays and aircraft viewing facilities.
We are indeed lucky to have such a collection of aircraft. In my opinion the TVAL collection of original, reproduction and replica aircraft is equal to or better than any other WWI collection, anywhere in the world.
- Report and photography by Clive Wilkinson.
» 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