Mosquito flyover wows big crowd
The Armistice in Cambridge again proved popular, reports Aaron Leaman .
Lake Karapiro has played host to many great moments over the years but few could match the exhilarating sights above its waters yesterday.
Thousands of spectators rose as one as a World War II Mosquito fighter-bomber tore across the skyline at 12.35pm.
Approaching from the north, the restored "wooden wonder" swooped low above the lake and domain, eventually making five passes in five minutes.
The fighter-bomber was restored in Auckland and was one of the few frontline aircraft built almost entirely from wood.
The aircraft is owned by an American aircraft enthusiast and came to New Zealand seven years ago after being found in a Russian swamp.
The spectacular flyover was part of the two-day Armistice in Cambridge celebrations held at Karapiro and Cambridge.
Hamilton man Spencer Heald was among many who came armed with a camera to capture the Mosquito in flight.
He said his interest in aviation came from his father who was an aeronautical engineer.
"One of the reasons I came was to see the Mosquito and it was great that the pilot showed both the top and bottom of the aircraft. It's obviously capable of going much faster than it did during the flyover so it was good we had a good chance to look at it."
The Mosquito has a top speed of 655kmh and features two Rolls-Royce Merlin 76 V-12 liquid-cooled piston engines.
Hamilton father and son David and Peter Phipps said the throb of the Merlin engines was "magnificent" and would inspire others embarking on restoration projects.
Armistice in Cambridge organising committee chairman Rob Feisst said the Mosquito's popularity had even surprised him.
"We knew it would be popular and we planned it as a major drawcard but it's fair to say none of us thought it would be quite this popular."
Mr Feisst said up to 10,000 people attended the event and vindicated its move to Karapiro.
"We've had flyovers in the past but we've always been restricted by our old site because of the proximity of nearby houses.
"At Karapiro we can operate down the lake and this has allowed us to have high performance aircraft here such as the Mosquito."
Mr Feisst said Armistice in Cambridge took a "hard-working" committee about 10 months to plan and stemmed from Cambridge's sister city relationship with the French town of Le Quesnoy. It was liberated by New Zealand soldiers a week before the end of WWI.
"Le Quesnoy celebrates Anzac Day because of the high esteem it holds New Zealand's armed forces and we wanted to do something to reciprocate, hence why we celebrate Armistice Day."