WWII Mosquito takes flight

Eyes aimed at sky as WWII bomber takes off

SIMON DAY
Last updated 14:57 29/09/2012

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A legendary WWII Mosquito fighter-bomber took flight over a crowd of thousands, as well as the admiring eyes of some its former pilots at Auckland's Ardmore airport today.

The Mosquito was rebuilt and restored over the last seven years by Aucklander's Warren Denholm and Glynn Powell. 

It made its maiden flight this week, the first in the world since 1996.

A number of the pilots who flew the planes during the war were in attendance at Saturday's airshow.

John Beeching flew RAF Mosquitoes on pathfinder and bombing missions over Europe during the war. The 89 year old veteran from Nelson said it was marvellous to see the pane back in action. 

"It wasn't the look, it was the sound, the sound of those two Merlin engines that bring back memories."

The Mosquito was one of the fastest planes in WWII, reaching speeds of nearly 700kmh.

The two Merlin engines came from stock the Royal New Zealand Air Force inherited after the war.

Ninety-two-year-old Harold "Bunny" Burrows, of Auckland, was a Squadron Leader and navigator on 30 missions during the war. He said it was fantastic to see people still interested in the Mosquito.

"There has been a lot of interest in the last five years, it's great to see people out here supporting the plane."

Beeching said he would be keen to get back in the cock pit and have a go at flying the restored bomber.

"I suppose it would be on. I've only had two beers," he said.

"I don't know about take off and landing, but it's like learning to swim."

Buck Townd, 89, clocked 165 hours in the Mosquito during the end of the War and has kept a close eye on the plane's restoration. He was more cautious about taking the Mosquito for a spin.

"I don't think I could fly one now, but they were such wonderful aircraft to fly."

Thousands of spectators turned out to see the Mosquito's flight with a cue of traffic nearly 3km long.

"There must be the nearly the population of the South Island out here today," Beeching said.

"I'm amazed, it's nice to know that we weren't forgotten and people do remember us."

This Mosquito was originally built in Toronto in 1945 for the Royal Canadian Air Force, but the plane went into storage without ever seeing combat.

Bought by American aircraft collector Jerry Yagen it was sent it to New Zealand to be restored.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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