Posted by Peter Woodcock on Apr 04, 2019

What kid (male) in the 50s or 60s didn’t take delight in assembling and flying an Airfix balsa wood Mustang or Hudson plane using heady glue, hard-backed razor blades and a lump of plasticine? Such fun!  As it must be for those in the Warbirds Association of New Zealand who have the pleasure and challenge of assembling, maintaining, displaying and in many cases flying such magnificent machines in order to preserve an important aspect of our past.

Our speaker this week was Gavin Trethewey who has had many years flying experience both in the Royal NZ Air Force and as a commercial pilot.  In an interesting address, illustrated with photos and video clips, he opened up the world of iconic planes dating from the First World War BE2 and Fokker Triplane, through the twenties and thirties (Percival Gull, De Haviland Foxmouth with folding wings and the trusty DC3) through WW2 (Kittyhawk, Mustang, Mosquito and Spitfire - $4000 will get you a spin in this!) to the more recent Catalina, F86 Sabre and BAC 167 Strikemaster.  These a just a few of the planes mentioned.

If you want to get up close to such ‘magnificent flying machines’ make a visit to Ardmore on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday where they are on display in two large hangers, together with  historic photos, over 1000 models, news items and details about the personnel associated with the organisation – past and present.

Other aspects of the Warbirds members’ activities were of great interest – training of pilots, restoration of old planes and reproduction of certain models, all done by enthusiasts often at great cost. For example, of the 31 Kittyhawks flying in the world, 11 were made in New Zealand. The Association began in 1978 with an ex-Air Force Harvard trainer and now has about 500 members nation-wide. Many planes are owned by syndicates rather than by individuals as maintenance and other costs are quite prohibitive.

Harvards are the backbone of the Roaring Forties formation flying team – a highlight of the many Air Shows organised by the Association the next one with a D-Day theme being on at Ardmore on 2 June this year.

Thank you Gavin for a detailed insight into another world – the scribe’s boyhood recollections were well and truly stirred by your presentation!