Those magnificent planes

16:00, Jan 28 2011

Historic aircraft can be noisy, slow and expensive to run, but those who fly them are not ready to retire the planes to the back paddock.

A range of passenger and military aircraft will take to the skies for the annual Flying Proms airshow at Taupo's Centennial Drive aerodrome today.

The New Zealand Warbirds Association have delivered to the show venue an assortment of Harvards, Mustangs, Yaks, Beavers and Tiger Moths in preparation for a skilful flying display matched with music of the era.

A Spitfire is booked to make an appearance.

Warbirds member and former Air New Zealand pilot Gavin Trethewey said the show was an important showcase for aircraft that played big roles in peacetime and in conflict.

Mr Trethewey is a member of the Harvard Roaring 40s squadron which will put on a display of loops, rolls and formation flying.

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The American-built Harvards were used as training aircraft for Kiwi pilots in World War II. "If you passed your test on these, then you were ready to fly Spitfires. But like all old things, now they take a fair amount of care."

The planes can guzzle $500 worth of fuel an hour. Mr Trethewey said he spent the morning cleaning oil off the white fuselage after flying up to Taupo from Masterton. "It throws oil in every direction.

"They can be very noisy but they are renowned for being rugged and reliable – although I have had to land a couple in nearby paddocks on the odd occasion."

Among the airshow's highlights will be a wing walk on a Tiger Moth by Marlene Marsden, of Taupo.

At ground level, spectators can watch the show, sipping wine while listening to tunes of the 1940s and 50s from the Aotea Youth Orchestra.

Waikato Times