Heritage planes a crowd-pleaser

03:17, Jan 13 2014
Janice and Ray Evans
Janice and Ray Evans from Nelson watch the Focke-Wulf FW190A start up.

Thunderous noise pierced the still blue skies in Blenheim on Saturday as heritage planes soared above the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Aviation fans were treated to ground and aerial displays of privately owned heritage aircraft not often available to the public at the Omaka Flying Day Fundraiser.

More than 500 adults and hundreds of children took in about 25 aircraft, including the rotary-engined Sopwith Pup, the German Fw190 and the rare Avro Anson.

Ashlee Martin
Ashlee Martin, 11, and Caleb Martin, 9, stand in the nose of the Bristol Freighter

Australian man Phil Matthews, who grew up in Blenheim, was glad to have been able to catch the action.

The aviation buff and recreational pilot was visiting family in Blenheim as part of a three-week holiday in New Zealand with his two sons, Bradley and Oliver, and wife Shirley Matthews.

"We're all nuts on planes," he said. "It's a great chance to come along and what's here."


Cameron McKenzie
Cameron McKenzie and Sam Hamilton, both 9, stick their fingers in their ears as the Bristol Freighter starts one engine

Retired Blenheim man Eric Henderson went to the event because of his interest in the restoration of old machinery.

He also liked the challenge of taking photos of the planes in the air, he said.

The flying day was good for Blenheim, he said.

Boeing Stearman
The Boeing Stearman in flight

"It brings focus back to the airfield," he said.

"It's a very important airfield with a lot of history. It's a part of Blenheim."

Heritage Centre trustee Graham Orphan said the day was a fundraiser, but it was more about celebrating aviation.

Lance McCallum
Passenger c sits in the Boeing Stearman before being taken up for a flight

"Just by opening up our own hangars, local people get a chance to see these privately owned planes," he said. "It's about trying to make the public realise that it's actually quite accessible."

A flying day is held about four times each summer, Mr Orphan said. The next one is on March 9.

Money raised from the day will go toward the expansion of the museum.

Pilot Kevin Wilkey
Pilot Kevin Wilkey cleans the windscreen of the Boeing Stearman before taking passenger Lance McCallum up for a flight.

Jackson giving history its wings 

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