Thousands flock for the buzz of Mosquito

The go-slow signs weren't needed on the road into Ardmore as thousands of people flocked to the airfield to see history made.

The World War II bomber, the de Havilland Mosquito, has been restored by Avspecs at Ardmore for the last seven years and today it flew in its first public display.

Under sunny skies every plane spotter, many veterans, and thousands of families trudged up to several kilometres to get into the airfield, with parking on the roads snapped up early.

Warren Denholm and his team at Avspecs couldn't have hoped for more - sun, light wind and thousands of appreciative spectators.

The owner of the plane, US warbird collector Jerry Yagen, told the crowd it was a great day for warbirds. As well as his own warbirds museum, Yagen owns 21 aviation campuses in the States, training pilots, and says such a plane couldn't be flown there.

"We aren't allowed to teach pilots to fly the Mosquito, because it's made of wood," he said. Kiwis 1; US - 0.

"And when people asked me why I keep sending planes to New Zealand to be restored, I tell them yes we could do it here probably...

but the Kiwis are the experts." Kiwis 2; US - 0

But it's Yagen the spectators have to thank for allowing Denholm to embark on the project. It's his money behind it and that's no small feat for the man whose first question had been "What's a Mosquito," when Denholm told him of Glyn Powell's skills in re-building the wooden airframe of the plane.

Glyn Powell was there too of course, but he fell victim to the traffic queues as well, which even before 10am took around an hour to get through to the airfield. He missed the first fly-past of the day by the wooden wonder; missed the thundering engines and low-flying sensation that drew gasps, cheers and claps from the crowd. It's a little surprising that the man wasn't flown in himself given he was such an integral part of this project - without his know-how it may never have happened.

The first flight was around 11am, and then just after 1pm, when many people were still filing in, it came round again.

Spectator Daniel Larsen tweeted that he was in "plane nerd heaven" and posted a pic.

Mike Fleming told The Aucklander he'd had an amazing day with his father Maurice at the show.

"What an absolutely amazing day! I took my 'old dad' along - he's 84 - and there were a few tears shed seeing history come to life," he said.

"There aren't many moments in life where one can witness history but this was surely one of them."

He said he would hold today's memory forever.

"Everyone together for the same reason, to see history being made again - Wow!"

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This TVNZ video (click here) also talks to the key players including pilot Keith Skilling, owner Jerry Yagen and Avspecs' restorer Warren Denholm.


Were you there? Send in your story and images through the box at the right.

- The Aucklander

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