Aviation history takes to skies over Marlborough

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 07:59 25/06/2012
Omaka
DEREK FLYNN

Dave Lochead (left) and his father Jim Lochead with the newly built re-creation of a 1913 Morane Sawlnier G.

omaka
DEREK FLYNN
Rosimeire Santos Cookson and daughter Anna Santos Cookson, 9 months and Chris Coookson enjoy the display
omaka
The impressive Yak 3 which performed an aerial display for the crowd

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The Ferrari of aviation in the 1940s soared over Marlborough on Saturday leaving its V12 engine ringing in the ears of spectators.

A Russian World War II plane, the Yakovlev Yak-3, was the star of the show at the Omaka Wings and Wheels Day.

Parents and their children watched as owner and pilot Graeme Frew rolled the newly restored fighter plane overhead.

The Yak-3 was restored at Omaka Airfield by Blenheim engineers Jem Aviation.

Chris O'Connor installed the avionics and was, quite literally, taken for a spin on Saturday.

The plane bounced through the air like a speedboat, he said.

"Graeme [Frew] said `if you build it, you have to fly in it'. The performance is incredible and it's beautiful to roll.

"You come in low and then before you know it, you're back up to 4000 feet."

The Yak-3 was a great aeroplane to work on, Mr O'Connor added.

"The Russians knew what they were doing."

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre trustee Graham Orphan said the Yak-3 was the Russian equivalent of a Spitfire or Mustang. But the Yak-3 could outperform both, he said.

Also on display and out of the hangar for the first time was a 1915 French-designed Morane Saulnier G, built from scratch by Dave Lochead and his father Jim.

They had spent the past 16 months trying to decipher how to build the plane from plans they found on the internet, said Dave.

"They were in Russian as well," he said. "Nothing's easy."

The plane's shell was made from Irish linen, he said.

"We've had a lot of fascinated people and their comments make it all worthwhile. You don't get to see stuff like this every day."

Blenheim man Chris Cookson was at the Wings and Wheels Day with his wife and 9-month-old daughter Anna, who loves the sound of aeroplanes.

"If she hears a plane overhead she gets really excited," he said.

"And she knows to look up now. We were actually trying to get her to sleep this morning but she wouldn't so we thought let's take her out here.

"She's really enjoying it. For the population of Marlborough, what we have here in terms of aviation is amazing.

"I know the planes aren't cheap to run so it's great that they have these open days."

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- The Marlborough Express

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