Old Fighters Footage Widened & Upscaled

Classic World War 2 Fighters – Click the thumbnail to watch the video

As I sit here looking at the daffodils poking their heads out of the garden beneath my window, I’m reminded that here in the Southern Hemisphere we don’t have too long to go until the warmer spring weather will be upon us, and we’ll be back into the swing of ‘airshow season’ — that has to be something to look forward to.

Here in New Zealand the coming of the daffodils always heralds the annual fund raising appeal of the New Zealand Cancer Society – their annual ‘Daffodil Day’ — and this year it’s a little more poignant for us. In the last few months the small community of aviation photographers in New Zealand lost a long time photographer and illustrator — Pete West (the one-legged Pom). Most of you will not recognise his name, but as he provided aircraft profiles and illustrations for several UK aviation magazines over the years, you may well have seen some of his work without realising it. I (Allan) only met Pete a few years ago, and while we didn’t run into each other often, when we did it was always enjoyable sharing a yarn and joke with him. So the next time you have a chance to donate a coin or two to your local cancer research organisation, please do so and spare a thought for Pete, and all the other unsung photographers, writers, illustrators, editors, pilots and mechani cs who have gone before us, but who have enabled us to watch or read about the exciting aircraft that we all enjoy so much.

New Widescreen and Blu-Ray Video We’ve been whiling-away our dark winter nights by going over some of our older video footage, specifically the materal from the first four Classic Fighters Airshows held at Omaka Aerodrome in Blenheim (NZ), and we’ve finally had a chance to upscale the footage to make it look as good as we can for playback on widescreen TV’s. We’ve now completed the task and have created new 16:9 widescreen format DVD’s and full HD Blu-Ray versions of our Classic WW1 and WW2 Fighters disks. The Feature Video this month is the trailer video for the World War Two disk.

Given that the original footage was 4:3 format Standard Definition, the upscaling process can only do so much, so it’ll never be as sharp and crisp as materal shot on more modern widescreen High Definition cameras. To that end, if you’ve already got either of the two disks, it’s probably not worthwhile getting these latest versions. On the otherhand, if you haven’t got the earlier standard versions yet, then these new disks provide some very entertaining watching – particularly given that each provides over two full hours of aviation action and that for the most part they contain dual soundtracks so you can turn the narration off, and just listen to the sound of the aircraft in action. Magic!

More Video

Click To See The Channel

Unfortunately for those of you in North America and Japan (and some South American locations), these new widescreen disks are only available in the PAL TV format, and not the NTSC-format that your telvisions require (but they’ll still play back in a computer OK). However the good news is that you don’t have to miss out entirley as all this high definition material, and much more, is available to stream over the internet from our HD subscription video channel: The Machine Channel. We’ve been very particular on the channel to make sure that both the narrated and ‘engine-only’ versions of the clips are available so you can choose to view whichever one you prefer.


Vol1 Old Aeroplanes – A New Magazine It’s not often that a new printed aviation magazine raises it’s head above the parapet, but we’re really glad that Leslie Quagraine has decided to start publishing Old Aeroplanes in this format on a quarterly basis. We’ve been able to review a copy of Issue 1, and we have to say it’s a stunner! The feature articles in this 100-page, full colour, glossy magazine include:

* Cole Palen’s Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome,

* Swedish aviation pioneer Baron Carl Cederstrom and his amphibian aircraft, the Flying Fish,

* The Messerschmitt Bf-109 in Finnish Air Force service,

* A photo essay on P-51 Mustangs flown at the Imperial War Museum Duxford

Old Aeroplanes contains page after page of glorious photographs, paintings and profiles, and there’s no advertising taking up extra space — this is 100% aviation features and nothing more. This is a magazine that you’re going to want to pick up and browse through time and time again. Leslie, and the magazine, is based in Finland, which means that the shipping costs of a 100 page magazine are not insignificant, but having looked through this first issue we’d have to say that it’s worth the expense. We thoroughly recommend that you check out the Old Aeroplanes website and grab at least one of the back issues to take a look at — we’re pretty sure that you’ll be hooked just as we are — we’re already looking forward to seeing future issues.

More Video

Footage From 1968

The End Of The VCR Many of you may have seen the news item in recent months that the VCR (video cassette recorder) is now officially extinct and a part of technological history. The last company that was producing VCRs and spare parts has now ceased doing so which means it’s no longer possible to buy new recorders. If you haven’t thought about doing it previously, you should now seriously think about getting some of your old home movies transfered from VCR to more modern digital formats if you want to keep them — and this of course also applies to older formats like 8mm and 16mm film — the longer these sit around in your cupboards and attics, the more they’ll deteriorate. We recently took possession of a number of 8mm film archives from the early 1970’s and we’ve had that material digitized, thereby hopefully preserving it for many more years yet — check out the video link above to see a snippet of this material. Feel free to talk to us if you have aviation or motorsport material that you’d like to save from the ravages of time.

For those of you in the Northern Hempisphere, we hope you enjoy the next couple of months and what will probably be the final events of your airshow season. For those of you ‘down under’, it’s time you started to get your camera gear ready, dust off your binoculars, and start planning which events you’ll head to this summer — we hope we’ll see you at one or two shows.


Allan & Alex

More Video

Video: TVAL WW1 Aircraft

NZ EVENT REMINDER – 26th & 27th November 2016: The Vintage Aviator WW1 Flying Weekend – This is the first of five flying weekends at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton during the 2016-2017 summer season. Flying is scheduled from 10.00am – 12.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm both days, with a Saturday only option of 6.00pm – 8.00pm if flying has been held up with weather. If you want to see TVAL’s originals or rare reproduction WW1 flying aircraft, you’ll need to attend a TVAL flying weekend. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Hangar tours will also be offered outside of flying hours at $15 for adults and $10 for children. See The Vintage Aviator website for details.

More Video

Video: Spitfires At Wairarapa

NZ EVENT REMINDER – 17th-19th February 2017: Wings Over Wairarapa – Excitement is building for the 10th Wings Over Wairarapa in February 2017. From the world’s rarest vintage aircraft to a glimpse of the future there’ll be something for everyone, and that’s just in the air. Tickets will be on sale on 1st September 2016. For more information keep an eye on the Wings Over Wairarapa website. The event will be held at Hood Aerodrome, in Masterton.

More Video

Video: C-17 At Ohakea

NZ EVENT REMINDER – 25th & 26th February 2017: RNZAF 80th Anniversary Air Tattoo – In celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the formation of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the RNZAF are planning a major airshow event at RNZAF Base Ohaeka in Februray 2017. The Air Force does not yet have a web site dedicated to the event, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted when it is made available.

More Video

Video: P40’s At Omaka

NZ EVENT REMINDER – 14th – 16th April 2017: Classic Fighters 2017 – All the old favourites and maybe one or two new aircraft will be back at Omaka Aerodrome in Blenheim for the 9th Classic Fighters show. For more information keep an eye on the Classic Fighters website. The event will be held at Omaka Aerodrome, in Blenheim.

Wallpaper Download — Curtiss P40-E Kittyhawk Connect to the internet if you can't see the photo here

The Old Stick And Rudder Co’s Curtiss P40-E Kittyhawk is one of only a handful of surviving P40’s that were operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the Second World War. Flown by well known UK warbird pilot Stu Goldspink, this aircraft features heavily in the Classic WW2 Fighters disks available from HAFU. The aircraft is based at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton, New Zealand.

Click the image above to open the page containing a link to the full size photo you can download and install on your computer as a desktop wallpaper image.


NZ Flag Referendum – Red Is Better

A Personal Message From HAFU Editor, Allan Udy

Generally speaking, here at HAFU we try to remain as politically neutral as we can, preferring to concentrate on the stuff that gives us enjoyment, such as producing great aviation and vehicle videos and photos for all of you who support and follow our endeavours. Having said that, once in a blue-moon there comes along a topic about which we feel strongly, and one which we simply feel that we must say something about — in this case it’s the New Zealand Flag Referendum process.

redsilveranimI urge all of you to support the ‘Red Won Campaign’ and on-line petition to convince the New Zealand Government of the need to take a step back and change the Preferred Alternative flag to the more popular Red Silver Fern flag design instead of the Black version.

Importantly this also applies to those of you who support retaining the current New Zealand flag — do you really want to risk the situation where the Second Referendum result brings a new national flag which turns out to be a sombre and dark, blue and black design?

NZ Flag

Click here to watch the video

Red or Black – What Should It Be?

Back in August 2015 I posted this video (at right) to our online channel, and suggested that as proud Kiwis we should all get behind the Flag Referendum and ensure that it’s a valid democratic process. I didn’t try to push the Red, White and Blue Silver Fern design created by Kyle Lockwood, but as that flag option had been my preferred alternative New Zealand flag for several years, it’s obviously the one that I had at hand when the video was shot.

Since then the First Referendum has been held and it’s the Black, White and Blue Silver Fern design which came out as the Preferred Alternative, and that’s the one that will go head-to-head against the current New Zealand flag in the Second Referendum in March 2016. The thing to note about the referendum result was that not only did the Red design win more First Preference votes, but by the end of the second vote count it was still leading the Black-variant by almost 20,000 votes. It was only after the Third and Fourth Preference votes were counted that the Black version came out as the ‘victor’ in the referendum. Click here to see the actual referendum results.

Many New Zealanders, myself included, believe that the results of this first referendum were corrupted by the ‘Red Peak’ fiasco (where a fifth flag contender was added to the referendum at the last moment), and we feel that had this not happened, it’s more than likely that the Red Silver Fern design would have prevailed as the peoples choice. We fully understand that many people voted for the Black version on the back of a wave of patriotism after the All Blacks successful defence of the Rugby World Cup, but we strongly believe that the warm and vibrant Red Silver Fern design is a far better option for a new national flag than the cold and sombre Black version (which at heart is a ‘sports’ version of the design).

To this end we’re calling on all New Zealanders to support the ‘Red Won Campaign’ and on-line petition, to urge the New Zealand Government to take a step back and change the Preferred Alternative flag to the more popular Red design instead of the Black one.

This is a vitally important discussion that needs to be had now, by all New Zealander’s no matter what their flag preference is.

* If you voted for Red in the first Referendum, please support the on-line petition and join the Facebook page

* If you support retaining the current NZ Flag, you should still support the Red Won Campaign because if the unthinkable (to you) happens and we do get a new flag after the Second Referendum, do you really want it to be the Black version which doesn’t use the same red, white and blue colour palette of our existing flag?

* If you voted Black in the first Referendum, are you REALLY sure that you want a cold and dull looking flag? While we fully support the use of the white on black silver fern motif to represent the All Blacks and other Kiwi sportsmen and women, we believe that this should not be our national flag. Please consider changing your allegiance to the more colourful and vibrant option.

If we let the dull and flat Black Silver Fern option become our national flag it will not change again in our lifetime. If you agree with what Red Won are trying to achieve please support the campaign. Red is better!

An Example Of Red Versus Black – Flags On A Busy Background

Below is an example image of the initial four flag options near the New Zealand section of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Monte Cassino in Italy… it doesn’t take much to see that on a busy background (as opposed to a clear blue sky), that the black flags don’t quite cut it. The Red Silver Fern design is the only one that really stands out.

Alt Flags

Thanks for bearing with me on this one — please rest assured that we will return to our normal aviation and motorsport blogging from here on it! 🙂

Best Regards,

Allan Udy

Feature Video – DH.98 Mosquito Up Close

Mosquito Up Close On Landing


De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito

Click here to watch the video of the Mosquito landing

This week’s Feature Video is a short one featuring Jerry Yagen’s magnification de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito fighter bomber coming in to land at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton, New Zealand.  The rumble of this aircraft as it passes overhead is simply awesome, and it’s great to hear the twin Merlin engines crackling as the aircraft slides down the runway.

 We’re Back

Yes, we’re back! Those of you who have been paying attention may have realised that it’s been over six months since we’ve been able to send out one of our ‘Feature Video’ email/blogs — it’s not because we haven’t been doing anything interesting, but rather it’s because we’ve been doing too much. For me (Allan) this has included a three month trip to the UK and Europe (call it a mid-life crisis OE if you will), while for Alex it has included packing up house and moving to a new location ready to start building a new home. With those major life events out of the way things are likely to settle down again and enable us to restart the semi-regular publishing of these updates. Having said that, here in the southern hemisphere we’re just coming into our main event season so we’re also going to be busy at a number of shows over the next few months — see below for a schedule of some of the main events coming up soon.


For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere it may seem odd that down here we equate the increasingly warm weather with our annual approach to the Christmas holidays, but as the biting cold winter weather fades into the background we do start to think about what we’ll do during our Christmas and New Year break, and more importantly whehether we’re organised enough to get all our Christmas shopping done early. We’re currently working on several new products, including at least one new DVD/Bluray, and another new book, but unfortunately those won’t be available until at least the middle of next year. In the meantime if you do need any extra aviation related Christmas presents, either for yourself, or for someone else you know, make sure you drop by our online store to check out your options: Click Here For Christmas Gift Ideas.

De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito

Phantom Camp Video: Some of you might recall from our last update earlier this year that aircraft restoration is not the only building work that’s happening at Omaka Aerodrome in New Zealand at moment. The Garrison Society Inc (established in 2012) is Marlborough’s largest Home Front & Military Historical Preservation group and they’re now the Custodians of a number of surviving buildings from RNZAF Station Omaka which was in use from 1941-1944 (these buildings were later used by the local Air Training Corps cadet unit for many years). The site is to be restored to its former glory and will become New Zealand’s only working WWII Military Camp. We interviewed Garrison Society member Alex Smith earlier in the year – check out the video at right.


Exclusive Motor Sport Tours: As many of you will know, aviation is not the only area of interest that we have here at HAFU — we also follow a lot of motorsport and we’re keen to support the activities of Tony Haycock, a prominent New Zealand motorsport writer/editor. With a background in the travel industry, Tony also runs a number of small and exclusive motorsport tours for enthusiasts who are keen to attend some of the world’s premier events, and in 2016 he’ll be taking a a group to the Bathhurst 12 Hour race, and the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in France. If you’re interested in either of these tours click the links above, or send Tony an e mail for more information.


AUSTRALIAN EVENT REMINDER – 20th & 21st November 2015: Warbirds Downunder at Temora. Warbirds Downunder 2015 is being expanded this year to include a Friday Evening airshow on November 20th and a Full Day Airshow on Saturday November 21st. There will be plenty of aerial action for you to enjoy with most of the Museum’s aircraft collection taking to the skies as well as plenty of visiting aircraft. There will also be ground exhibits for you to see and enjoy while the children will also be occupied. The show will be held at Temora Aerodrome, NSW, Australia. For more information keep an eye on the Warbirds Downunder website.

NZ EVENT REMINDER – 22nd November 2015: New Zealand Warbirds Assn ‘Salute To Military Aviation’. Starting at 10:00am the show will include static displays as well as practice flying displays at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 2:30pm. Food and refreshments will be available and entry includes a chance to win a flight in a warbird aircraft. The airshow will be held at NZ Warbirds Hangar at Ardmore Aerodrome in Auckland. For more info keep an eye on the NZ Warbirds facebook page. You can also Click Here for a copy of the Airshow Poster and information.


NZ EVENT REMINDER – 27th & 28th November 2015: The Vintage Aviator WW1 Flying Weekend – Flying is scheduled from 10.00am – 12.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm both days, with a Saturday only option of 6.00pm – 8.00pm if flying that day has been held up with weather. If you want to see TVAL’s originals or rare reproduction WW1 flying aircraft, you’ll need to attend a TVAL flying weekend. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Hangar tours will also be offered outside of flying hours at $15 for adults and $10 for children. The event will be held at at Hood Aerodrome, in Masterton.


NZ EVENT REMINDER – 23rd January 2016: Classics Of The Sky Airshow – Organisers of the show are excited about a new format for the events in 2016. There will now be two afternoon “mini airshows”, one in summer and one in autumn. Described as “family picnic type events”, the shows are scheduled for mid-afternoon to evening, with static and flying aviation displays, food stalls and children’s entertainment. Air displays at Tauranga Airport will start in the late afternoon and continue until evening. Click Here for a copy of the Airshow Poster and information.



Wallpaper Download — English Electric Canberra

Connect to the internet if you can't see the photo here

This weeks slightly surreal desktop picture download is a shot of the Pitts Special of aerobatic champion Lauren Richardson as she displayed her aircraft at the Little Gransden Air and Car Show in the UK in August 2014. The shot was taken just as Lauren was at the top of a loop, perfectly backframed by the orb of the sun as it peeked out from behind some clouds.

Click the image above to open the page containing a link to the full size photo you can download and install on your computer as a desktop wallpaper image.

Best regards,

Allan & Alex




HAFU Feature Video: Three Avro Bombers

Three Avro Bombers Over Norfolk


Three Avro Bombers

Click here to watch the video of two Lancasters and a Vulcan

This week’s short Feature Video is one that we never expected to be able to film as it features a formation of three bomber aircraft built by Avro, each of which is very rare in its own right, meaning that the flight of all three together is almost certain to be a unique event.

In August 2014 while the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Avro Lancaster bomber C-GVRA was in the UK it flew in formation with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster and Avro Vulcan XH558 between RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and RAF Marham in Norfolk. The video shows the end of that flight at RAF Marham as the aircraft fly over and the Vulcan leaves the formation for an airshow appearance further south at Clacton. Now that C-GVRA is back in Canada it’s extremely unlikely that a formation like this will be seen again, so it was certainly a privilege to be able to witness this unprecedented event.

TVAL’s Airshows Are Changing

Those of you who’ve been on our mailing list for some time will know that The Vintage Aviator Ltd usually run several flying display days during the summer months. The good news is that from this season onwards, it looks like there will be many more chances to see their WW1 aircraft in action. The following info is taken directly from the TVAL Facebook page:

Due to increasing numbers of aircraft and a heavy ‘away shows’ commitment in NZ and overseas, our TVAL air shows are changing to accommodate more practice and handling for our pilots. Flying will now take place over the last weekend of every month from November to April. This season’s air shows commitment will unfortunately affect our new flying dates however we expect ‘the last weekend of every month’ to become the norm over coming seasons. Monthly flying will focus on handling and practice in the mornings and display practice in the afternoon with a late afternoon option to take advantage of the generally still evenings if weather has prevented flying during the day.

The new flying weekends are casual with none of the previous air shows infrastructure, parking, food stalls etc, so bring your own seat and refreshments. Hangar tours will be offered outside of flying hours. Flying will be scheduled from 10.00am to 12.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm Saturday and Sunday, with a Saturday only option of 6.00pm to 8.00pm if flying that day has been held up with weather. Additionally, the new flying weekends will see the introduction of the TVAL Supporters Club offering exclusive opportunities for private group displays, pilot presentations, and our very limited up and coming Wellington Workshop Tours.

Remember that if you want to see TVAL’s four originals or rare reproductions flying, you’ll need to come to a TVAL flying weekend. TVAL’s replica collection and sometimes one or two of our reproduction aircraft will represent TVAL at other air shows.


Reviews New WW2 DVD Bundle Offer: When we released the new Dogfight! World War One Aircraft DVD and BluRay we also offered it as part of a bundle with our older Classic WW1 Fighters DVD and this has proven to be very popular. We’ve had lots of people ask us if we can do the same with the Classic WW2 Fighters DVD, so we’re now pleased to offer that older title as part of a two disk bundle with our DH.98 Mosquito DVD (or BluRay) for those of you who haven’t yet picked up a copy.

Check out the link at the right for a couple of reviews of the two recent releases.

We’re looking forward to being able to catch up with many of you during at least one of the awesome flying events coming up here in New Zealand in the next couple of months. Roll on summer!


NZ EVENT REMINDER – November 8th & 9th 2014: Armistice In Cambridge – This is the largest commemorative event in New Zealand that marks the Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice between the Allied nations and the German Empire in 1918, ending the First World War. As with the event last year, this year the bulk of the show’s activities will be held at the Mighty River Domain park at Lake Karapiro, just 8kms south of Cambridge. For more info see the website at Armistice In Cambridge.

NZ EVENT REMINDER – November 29th & 30th 2014: The Vintage Aviator Ltd Flying Weekend – This will be the first of TVAL’s new flying weekends which are scheduled to be run over the last weekend of every month from November to April (with some exceptions due to airshow commitments). As always the show will be held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton. Flying will be scheduled from 10.00am to 12.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm Saturday and Sunday, with a Saturday only option of 6.00pm to 8.00pm if the earlier flying that day has been held up with weather. For more information keep an eye on The Vintage Aviator’s F acebook page. Bring your own seat and refreshments.

NZ EVENT REMINDER – January 16th-18th 2015: Wings Over Wairarapa 2015 – The first major NZ airshow of 2015 is on at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton in January. If you haven’t yet got your travel and accommodation plans sorted out then now would be a good time to start getting them sorted out. As always the airshow will be held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton. For the first time, Wings 2015 will be a FOUR day aviation event combining three flying display days, an adventure aviation rides day, a tradeshow featuring a national UAV symposium and a two day UAV trade exhibition by the New Zealand Unmanned Aviation Vehicles Industry. For more info see the Wings Over Wairarapa website.


Wallpaper Download — English Electric Canberra

Connect to the internet if you can't see the photo here

Canberra XH134 as seen at the Sywell Airshow in August 2014 — this is the only airworthy Canberra of its type in the world and is run and maintained by the Midair Squadron in the United Kingdom.

Click the image above to open the page containing a link to the full size photo you can download and install on your computer as a desktop wallpaper image.

Best regards,

Allan & Alex


UK Tour: Naval Aviation and Tanks (again)

After our short detour to Heathrow to drop one of our number off for his flight back to New Zealand, we headed south-west again into the Somerset area for a look at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

2014-09-02 10.00.35 HDRThis museum is dedicated to everything that the aviation wing of the Royal Navy has done and achieved in the past 100 years, beginning with the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War, through the Second World War, and into the age of jet aircraft and helicopters operating from massive aircraft carriers during the Cold War and beyond.

As with many of the museums we’ve visited, the Fleet Air Arm Museum has a great collection of aircraft, many of which (such as the Short S.27) we’d not previously seen anywhere else.

Sopwith Pup - one of the first aircraft to be launched from and landed on a ship.

Sopwith Pup – one of the first aircraft to be launched from and landed on a ship.

Additionally, just like the R.A.F. Museums in London and Cosford, the display halls in Yeovilton are well lit and spacious, allowing visitors to have great access around most of the aircraft—it’s possible to view most of the displays from multiple angles (including overhead in  a number of some cases), making the experience that much better and more enjoyable.

One of the unique displays at the museum is the mock-up of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as it would have appeared in the 1970s. You enter this display area via a simulated helicopter ride, and you then spend the next 35 minutes or so being led through the display area (the flight deck and island) by simulated flight deck crew who tell you about the displays and the activity on the deck. It’s a great way to portray the aircraft and the workings of an aircraft carrier.

Concorde 002

Concorde 002

It’s interesting to note that the Fleet Air Arm Museum also has some aircraft on display that don’t fit strictly within what you would expect of a naval aviation museum—the prime example of this being Concorde 002—the first British-built Concorde to take to the skies in 1969. There are also a couple of other experimental jet aircraft in the same hall—the Handley Page HP115 (built to explore the performance of low delta wings at low speeds) and Hawker P117 (built as part of the development process that led to the Hawker Harrier)—interesting aircraft in their own right, but we’re still not sure what they have to do with naval aviation!


Grumman Martlet (a.k.a. Wildcat) in original Fleet Air Arm colours.

All in all the museum is another good facility to visit if you happen to be in the Somerset area, and the fact that you can get a 12-month Gift Aid pass (allowing you free entery anytime in the 12 months after your first visit) is certainly good value if you’re able to make a repeat visit or two—as with many of the museums in the UK, taking everything in on a single visit is a daunting task, so a free repeat visit is a great option.

One of the main battle tanks on display in the Bovington Arena.

One of the main battle tanks on display in the Bovington Arena.

When we’d had our fill of naval aviation we decided that as we had 12 month passes to the Tank Museum at Bovington, and given that we were only a one hour drive away, we’d go and have a second visit to that fabulous museum as well.  It was a good chance to take a good look at some of the things we’d not had time for earlier in the trip, including Tiger 131, the first Tiger tank captured by the Allies during the Second World War.

Tiger '131' at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Tiger ‘131’ at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Now that we’ve had a chance to take a look at a greater number of military museums in the UK, we’d certainly have to say that the Tank Museum in Bovington is one of our favourites.  If you’re going to visit make sure that you’ve set aside a good few hours to take a thorough look around—it’s certainly needed.


UK Tour: A (Slight) Disappointment at Duxford

Having finished up (at the Steam Gala) in Norfolk we washed the soot from our hair and eyes, and headed south once more, toward Heathrow (so we could drop one of our traveling companions off for his journey home). This gave us the opportunity to stop off and have a look through the Imperial War Museum Duxford—one of the best known warbird aviation museums in the UK.

Spitfire Mk.1 in the Air and Sea display hall.

Spitfire Mk.1 in the Air and Sea display hall.

Duxford is Britain’s best-preserved Second World War airfield and it has a history that stretches back to the First World War. A number of historic hangars and buildings sit alongside a couple of more modern exhibition buildings and the museum also has a significant collection of tanks, military vehicles and artillery in a Land Warfare exhibit. There are a number of shows on at Duxford throughout the year, with the annual Flying Legends airshow being one of the aerodromes most famous flying events.

Hawker Hurricane in the Air and  Sea display hall.

Hawker Hurricane in the Air and Sea display hall.

Entry into the museum is not cheap at £17.50 and so our expectations were set pretty high. Unfortunately we’d have to say that the reality didn’t quite live up to the hype (or the cost). There are certainly some fantastic (and unique) aircraft at Duxford, and we’re quite happy to have visited the facility once, but it’s fair to say that we’d struggle to justify a second visit, particularly when entry into the two RAF Museums (London and Cosford) are free.

Bristol Fighter F.2b in the Battle of Britain display hall.

Bristol Fighter F.2b in the Battle of Britain display hall.

The first thing that struck us with the museum at Duxford was that some of the displays didn’t make a lot of sense. For example, the building labelled as the Battle of Britain display hall does contain a number of aircraft from the summer of 1940 period, but also contains a World War One-era Bristol Fighter F.2b, along with a collection of more modern jets. Yet the main AirSpace display hall contains a number of World War Two aircraft (Lancaster, Mosquito, Swordfish etc) that have much more in common with the Battle of Britain aircraft than the Bloodhound Missile, Hawker Hunter and the modern jet aircraft that are housed there.

Lancaster in the somewhat cluttered AirSpace display hall.

Lancaster, Vulcan and Sunderland flying boat in the somewhat cluttered AirSpace display hall.

The other problem, mainly in both the AirSpace display and the American Air Museum exhibit, is that there are simply too many aircraft in too small a display space. This means that it is not easy to see the aircraft well, and in many cases it’s not easy to actually compare and contrast the different aircraft that are on display. In the American Air Museum we were two-thirds of the way around the display hall before we realised that there was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress on display—one of the largest operational aircraft during the Second World War and it was virtually hidden because of all the other aircraft on display alongside, above and beneath it. Hiding a B-29 is not an easy feat!

Having said all the above, we must point out that we did enjoy our visit to this historic airfield, and as noted there are many unique aircraft on display, so it is worthwhile taking a look if you’re in the area.  You just need to be prepared for the fact that some of the aircraft are not displayed as well as we’ve seen at some other museums. As it turns out you also need to be prepared to do a fair amount of walking—the various display halls are spread out over a considerable distance—but it is always good to get out of the car and get a bit of exercise!

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortess on the airfield at Duxford during our visit.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress on the airfield at Duxford during our visit. Unfortunately she didn’t fire up her engines while we were there!


UK Tour: Steam Gala In Norfolk

Having spent nearly three weeks running around the UK looking at aircraft and staying in various hotels, the next few days were certainly a major change of pace.

Once again we were in the Norfolk area, though this time we were right on the coast at Shearingham and Weybourne, rather than further inland as we had been a week or so past when we stayed in Norwich.


A view looking toward the village of Weybourne as seen from the North Norfolk Railway.

Additionally this weekend there was to be no two-star hotel accommodation, it was five-star camping all the way at a local camp ground! Our good friend, photographer Rob Leigh supplied all the essential camping equipment, and kitted out his own ‘canvas’ hideaway with all the essentials of modern camping, including the beer fridge!

10660125_901664289848531_4356747315578954265_nWe were in the area for the weekend to attend the North Norfolk Steam Gala—a three day event featuring a number of steam locomotives plying their trade back and forth along the railway line between the coastal towns of Shearingham and Holtabout a twenty minute train journey if it’s done non-stop. For steam afficianados this is one of the big annual events in the area, with six different locomotives running this year (four locals and two visitors).


We had the chance to walk along the track (with a special pass) and watch the trains coming past at very close quarters, and we were also able to buy a day pass to ride the trains back and forth between the stations at Shearingham – Weybourne – Holt.

This is a great way to spend a weekend, particularly because the carriages attached to each train were of quite different designs and eras—you could easily spend all day going up and down the line on completely different trains. While this gala weekend was a feast of steam for enthusiasts, the North Norfolk Railway operates year round so if you’re in this area it’s certainly worthwhile checking out their website and going for a ride.


Field gun display at the Muckleburgh collection.

Field gun display at the Muckleburgh collection.

The other surprise we had was finding the Muckleburgh Collection right next door to the camping ground we were staying at. This military vehicle collection and museum is a bit like the Norwich Aviation Museum—a bit rough on the outside, but actually pretty impressive on the inside. With a total of over 150 tanks, guns and other vehicles (many of which are still operational) the collection is a very worthwhile visit, particularly when you consider that there are also a significant number of other high quality exhibits (local military history, light weapons, ammunition, local naval history etc).

The fact that many of the vehicles of the collection are still operational means that in the school holidays during the display season (April – November) the Collection will usually display one of the main battle tanks in the outdoor arena at 2:30pm — luckily we were their in time to see the Soviet T-55 tank put through its paces.  Note that this was not two-three minutes start-her-up-and-drive-100m display—the tank was demonstrated for almost 15 minutes, and at times it probably got close to reaching her to speed! This was a great display.

Soviet T-55 main battle tank demonstration.

Soviet T-55 main battle tank demonstration.

If you have the chance to visit Muckleburgh, you should do so, just make sure that you’re not put off by the somewhat shabby appearance of the outside of many of the (historically significant) buildings on  the site. Inside the collection is great.

One small part of the naval history displays.

One small part of the naval history displays.




UK Tour: Off To The Wild West, Then Back East

Scout Rudder

Original Scout rudder bar in David’s aircraft.

After we’d been to the air and car show at Little Gransden, we decided that we’d head out west to Shropshire to visit David Bremner in Ludlow. David is building a replica 1915 Bristol Scout aircraft, based around some original parts that he has from his grandfather’s Scout aircraft (including the original joystick and rudder bar. We first met David and his wife Sue, and co-aircraft builder Theo, when they were in New Zealand early in 2014 to inspect a Le Rhone rotary engine for the aircraft.

Our original plan on Monday the 25th (a bank holiday in the UK) was to head toward Rugby, to go and take a look at the Trucks, Tanks and Firepower show which was being held there — this being the final day of the three-day show. However when we got up we realised that the weather forecast was correct and that it was a rather grey, wet and dismal day – not even worthwhile considering trying to film anything in this sort of weather. So instead, we programmed the coordinates for our hotel into the GPS system and headed straight for the Shropshire area.


The old cemetery at Church Stretton which contains a number of Commonwealth War Graves — generally from the 1917-1922 period.

We found our hotel on the side of a hill in a small village called Church Stretton about twenty minutes drive from Ludlow, and then we headed into town for a coffee and bite to eat, and then a look around the shops and the market for a little while (in the raini). It’s a very nice little townespecially the church which is almost cathedral in sizequite impressive. Some of the other buildings in the centre of the town were built in the 14th and 15th centuriesthey’re also impressive! Ludlow Castle is quite famous and being a bank holiday there was some medieval re-eanactment and competitions going onunfortunately we only found this just as it was finishing up (and two guys were beating on one another with some rather large swords).

Scout SeatThe following day we went and took a look at the Bristol Scout. Work is progressing wellthe wings are on, and all but the fuselage is now covered in fabric. There’s a bit of plumbing work to be done on the engine before it can be run again, but all in all it’s looking good that the aircraft may be fully serviceable, on schedule, toward the end of 2014. We wish David and Theo all the best in getting the aircraft ready to fly in time for the 1915-2015 commemorations next year.

The BBMF Lancaster at RAF Coningsby.

The BBMF Lancaster at RAF Coningsby.

After a couple of days out west we then had to head east once more, back to the Lincolnshire area as we were quite keen to be able to film the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster taking off from its base at RAF Coningsby. Unfortunately this just wasn’t to bethe Lancaster’s departure for a show at Bournemouth was repeatedly put back throughout the day due to inclement weather, and by 2pm we couldn’t afford to hang around any longer as we needed to leave the area in time to pick up some tickets for our next event in Norfolk. However we did have a chance to have a good look around the BBMF Visitors Centre at RAF Coningsby—it’s worth a look if you’re in the area.

Ludlow Castle on a wet day.

Ludlow Castle on a wet day.


UK Tour: A Winner At Little Gransden

Amazing! We woke up early on the 24th August to find that the weather looked pretty good for an airshow—this is the first time in the couple of weeks that we’ve been here in the UK that the conditions look good for filming and taking photographs. To say that we were relieved that the weather would be good for the Little Gransden Air and Car Show would be an understatement!

Little Gransden: Classic Ferrari

Little Gransden: Classic Ferrari

Airshows in the UK seem to work differently from the way that they do at home in New Zealand. You can get into the car park from about 8:00am onwards, but the gates to the show don’t actually open until 10:00am. So by 9:45am there’s usually a long queue of people waiting for the gates to open. At precisely 10.00am they do open, and then there’s plenty of time to look around the trade stalls and get food as the flying displays don’t start until about 1:00pm—in New Zealand half the flying displays are over by 1:00pm. In the UK flying runs through until about 5:00pm so there’s a good four hours of flying, and on a day like today when the weather was pretty good, and the flying programme can keep pretty much to schedule, they’re able to fit quite a bit of flying into the aerial display time, so it works out to be quite a good day.

Little Gransden: The Vulcan departs.

Little Gransden: The Vulcan departs.

Little Gransden is just a small airfield, and there were approximately 7500 tickets sold which meant the place was pretty much at capacity. They’ve never (since 1992) had a sell-out crowd before, and the fact they did this time can be pretty much put down to the appearance of the two Lancasters, although another significant highlight of the day was the flypast of the Avro Vulcan jet bomber. At RAF Marham it just flew over with the Lancasters and then departed, where-as today it did three flypasts on its own and it was impressive— it was great to be able to see and hear this huge beast of an aircraft in the flesh.

Little Gransden: PIper Cubs

Little Gransden: PIper Cubs

There were plenty of other things happening in the air to keep everyone entertained throughout the afternoon—Supermarine Spitfire, North American P-51 Mustang, Hawker Hurricane, Fiesler Storch, North American T-28 Trojan, more de Havilland biplanes, Spartans and a whole host of highly skilled aerobatic and formation pilots showing of their aircraft and skills. On the other side of the field there were military vehicles, buses, vintage and classic cars and all sorts of other things to see and hear. All in all it was a great show and a worthy cause (the show is designed to raise money for the BBC Children in Need Appeal)—if you ever have the chance to visit Little Gransden sometime, then do it!

Little Gransden: Some old buses on display

Little Gransden: Some old buses on display

Little Gransden: Lauren Richardson in her Pitts Special

Little Gransden: Lauren Richardson in her Pitts Special

Little Gransden: American Half-Track

Little Gransden: American Half-Track

Little Gransden: Sparten Executive

Little Gransden: Sparten Executive

Little Gransden: Bird Dog

Little Gransden: Bird Dog

Little Gransden: P-51 Mustang

Little Gransden: P-51 Mustang

UK Tour: Small Museums and Small Airfields

After seeing Just Jane at East Kirkby and the three Avro bombers in formation at RAF Marham in Norfolk mid-week, our next couple of days were relatively low key as we first took a break and then repositioned from Norfolk back to Bedfordshire ready for our next airshow.

Norwich Aviation Museum: Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star.

Norwich Aviation Museum: Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star.

On Friday (22nd) we had a couple of hours wandering around the City of Norwich Aviation Museum which is located just to the north of the main airport at Norwich. It’s a small museum and all the aircraft exhibits are (once again) outside in the weather, but there were a few types there that we hadn’t had the chance to see before: Hawker Hunter, Sepecat Jaguar, Lockheed T-33 ‘Shooting Star’ and Hawker Siddeley Nimrod amongst others, along with the apparent favourites of many UK museums, the Meteor and Vulcan. The museum also has a significant amount of display information and artifacts inside which are related to the operations of 100 Group squadrons who flew from a variety of local bases during WW2 and into the post war era. This includes a great little display on the electronic warfare operations conducted from the base during the war.

Norwich Aviation Museum: Nimrod

Norwich Aviation Museum: Nimrod

Again, it’s a worthwhile little museum to stop in at—entry is cheap at less than five pounds, and for a couple of pounds extra you can have a guided tour of the Vulcan and/or Nimrod.


Norwich Aviation Museum: Red Arrows Arrive

Norwich Aviation Museum: Red Arrows Arrive

An unexpected bonus of our trip to the Museum was that shortly before we left the RAF’s ‘Red Arrows’ display team arrived overhead and landed at the airport just next door. We had a good view of all this activity and it was a nice way to finish the visit.

StowMaries_01The following day (Saturday 23rd) we needed to head south through Norfolk, on our way back to Bedfordshire to be able to attend the airshow at Little Gransden the following day. On our way we made a short detour toward the coast to go and find the Stow Maries Aerodrome. This is the only World War One-era aerodrome left in Britain that has any of the original buildings remaining. As we’ve done previously we didn’t check the website before we went there, and so when we arrived (on Saturday) we found that the opening days were only Thursday, Friday and Sunday. However we’d come this far so decided just to call in quickly to see what the place was actually like and what’s there.

Again it was a bit of a surprise—we knew there were quite a few buildings from the Aerodrome’s WW1 history still in existence, but we didn’t realise quite how many are still there. While quite a few of these buildings are currently not open for public access (due to safety concerns), the whole area never-the-less gives one a real sense of history. The airfield itself was only used during the First World War and was closed shortly thereafter. It was not re-opened as a base during the Second World War as the relatively wet airfield conditions were not suitable for the newer, heavier fighter aircraft in use by then. This means that the original WW1 architecture and history has never been adulterated by subsequent events, again giving the place a real sense of history.

StowMaries Pano2014-08-23 10.48.44

Latrines (toilets), a Mess Hall (cafe), a small museum and a couple of other buildings are open to the public on the days the facility is open, and again, if you’re in the general area, it’s well worth a look—just make sure you check the website for opening days and times before you start your journey. Many thanks to Russell and the crew at Stow Maries who opened up the facility for us anyway, and who were quite happy to talk about the aerodrome and old aeroplanes for an hour or so.

Once we’d finished at the aerodrome, it was back in the car for an uneventful trip to Ampthill in Bedfordshire, ready for the airshow the following day. Hoping that the wind will drop and that we’ll have a great day for filming….