Record crowds at Wairarapa air show

01:43, Jan 31 2009
ROARING FORTIES: Two 1940s Harvards in action at the Wings over Wairarapa air show yesterday.

A nonstop spectacle of air power drew record crowds in near perfect conditions for a weekend of aerial action at Wings Over Wairarapa.

About 25,000 people headed to Masterton on Saturday in campervans, buses, trains and planes as temperatures rose into the high twenties.

Day two of the air show yesterday brought cooler temperatures about 18 degrees celsius and passing showers, but the crowds kept coming.

An estimated 45,000 people attended over the two days the biggest crowd the New Zealand Sport and Vintage Aviation Society has drawn to the event.

 Aircraft from the 1920s to the present, and from many parts of the world, were in the air, including two World War II fighters.

For Battle of Britain pilot Wing Commander Alan Gawith, 92, Wings Over Wairarapa and other air shows staged in New Zealand each year were more than just showing off old aircraft. "I think it is important for everybody because after the war we didn't have time to talk about what we did and even our children were reluctant to ask us questions about it, feeling they might upset us.

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"The grandchildren and generations down now are interested and it is good to be able to tell them and for them to see our stories through these air shows.

"For me, it is about remembering people because really the cream of the young men in those days were there. You got used to losing your mates because they were popping off pretty regularly."

Society president Tom Williams said air shows were the second most popular viewing sport in the world behind soccer.

The Wairarapa show had stepped up over its 10-year history to bring stories as well as spectacle to younger generations, he said.

"We couldn't have asked for any better this year. The pilots, the people and the history all together made it perfect just perfect."

The Dominion Post