Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Despite all the rain, we had a great weekend made extra special by the biennial Wings over Wairarapa Airshow. Now its no secret that we have a few flyboys in the family. Even Busted Blonde  took to the air in her younger day and has never lost the love all all things winged.

So how good was the airshow? We attended the Warbirds over Wanaka show a way back when it was in its infancy so that's all we have to compare it to.

This is the second time we have been to the Masterton show and we will undoubtedly be back again in two years time. Its fantastic.  Liz Pollock seems to be the event sheila extraordinaire in the Big Valley as no sooner does she put down the running sheet for the Wings over Wairarapa Show than she picks up the pour on the March Harvest Festival in Gladstone.

We think that the Wings over Wairarapa is pretty well run. We bought Gold passes, which for  $160 dollars got you a park that meant you didn't have to take a cut lunch and a compass to get to the grounds, entry  to a covered tent and a grandstand as close to the action as you could want. You got morning tea, a scone, cake and coffee and  lunch which we thought this year was not that flash. It was a choice of a venison burger or a chicken burger and for dessert there was some cake and fudge. Afternoon tea was also served with some fruit loaf. The venison burger was tasty enough but it just didn't seem to hit the mark. Our resident chicken connoisseur declared his burger  so so.

There was a cash bar and the prices were really reasonable. $30 for a good bottle of local Pinot Noir like Johners Moonlight is not to be sniffed at.And you got a Wings cap and a programme. The programme was really well put together. However, as a couple of Maori fellas with us suggested, the caterers needed to go to a marae to see how serving up food to  a big crowd was done properly and with greater efficiency.The layout of the food stations was not great. And maybe the tent was a bit crowded.

There is nothing that the organisers could have done about the monsoonal weather bomb that washed out the show on Sunday. Even on Saturday the patchy weather put paid to a few events. And the only other criticism is how the cancellation was handled. It would have been horrendously difficult but a better use of social media would have made it a bit more immediate. Twitter could have been used to much greater effect.

There were people from around the world who travel the airshow circuit and there was a fair crowd of overseas visitors in the tent. Some were very very old. But the light in their eyes shone bright every time a planes old and new took to the air.

Our favourites are the vintage planes and the blokes who fly the yaks. They are from all across the aviation spectrum and they are a crowd pleaser. They are obviously a pretty close knit bunch. There is a touch of the daring do about them. Classy cowboys of the sky.

The commentators were also a great bunch. Star billing went to Jim Hickey for his irreverence and his humour. But the others were in the same league.

With every plane that took to the air there was a story - a gloriously, fascinating, human story.  Sadly the media treatment of this event is scant and once over lightly. A fully documentary of the show and the people who have got it to this stage is well worth considering. There are obviously many many characters in amongst the flyboys and the chaps who look after the vintage military machines.

Masterton has a wonderful asset in this show and the dozens of old planes who sleep in the hangers at Hood.

So a big thumbs up to the organisers and all the volunteers for a great event.

And to the person who decided that the closing of the show was a chance to pay homage to all those who had taken to the skies to fight for freedom - well done. As we watched the finally rally we cast around the people in the crowd in the tent. Some fought back the tears while others openly sobbed. It was as moving as any Anzac parade we have ever attended. It was good to pause and reflect that aircraft have played such a vital role in shaping our world, but one that was not without considerable cost.
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Flyer's Prayer
When this life I'm in is done,
And at the gates I stand,
My hope is that I answer all
His questions on command.
I doubt He'll ask me of my fame,
Or all the things I knew, Instead,
He'll ask of rainbows sent
On rainy days I flew.
The hours logged, the status reached,
The ratings will not matter.
He'll ask me if I saw the rays
And how He made them scatter.
Or what about the droplets clear,
I spread across your screen?
And did you see the twinkling eyes.
If student pilots keen?
The way your heart jumped in your chest,
That special solo day-
Did you take time to thank the one
Who fell along the way?
Remember how the runway lights
Looked one night long ago
When you were lost and found your way,
And how-you still dont know?
How fast, how far, how much, how high?
He'll ask me not these things
But did I take the time to watch
The Moonbeams wash my wings?
And did you see the patchwork fields
And moutains I did mould;

Of these did I behold?
The wind he flung along my wings,
On final almost stalled.
And did I know I it was His name,
That I so fearfully called?
And when the goals are reached at last,
When all the flyings done,
I'll answer Him with no regret-
Indeed, I had some fun.
So when these things are asked of me,
And I can reach no higher,
My prayer this day - His hand extends
To welcome home a Flyer.

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