Old and young get aviation fix in Tauranga

By Allison Hess

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It was a stunning day for Saturday's Classics of the Sky Airshow at Tauranga airport and visitors had their eyes glued to the skies, watching the fascinating and daring air performances.

This year organisers ran the show under a new format, as a "mini airshow" held in the afternoon and evening.

Another "mini airshow" is scheduled for March.

The Mount Truck Show was also in attendance for the first time with 120 mammoth static rigs.

Wally Gee said it did not get much better than Saturday's airshow.

"I love the smell, the noise, anything that flies."

His love affair with all things aviation began 30 years ago, when he began flying planes.

"I was a commercial pilot for 15 years, though it wasn't my main job, it was just charter work. I've retained that passion for aviation since then," he said.

The 72-year-old "sadly" no longer flies but had dedicated himself to providing TLC to classic planes with other members of Classic Flyers Tauranga.

Mr Gee is in a group of other aviation enthusiasts, the "engineering group", who are restoring an old Grumman TBF-1 Avenger aircraft " a torpedo bomber used in World War II.

Thomas Duthie, 10, and Pete Calkin. Photo / George Novak
Thomas Duthie, 10, and Pete Calkin. Photo / George Novak

For the past 18 months they have worked on the plane for five to six hours every Wednesday and Friday.

The men have nearly completed the engine and aim to get her up to display condition where they can taxi it and open and shut the wings and bomb bay doors.

The men stood proudly by their Avenger which was on display at the weekend's show. The plane was moved to Tauranga in late 2014 from Gisborne.

Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society had been working on the plane, originally a gift from the New Zealand Air Force Museum.

Mr Gee moved to Tauranga from Auckland three years ago and has not had one regret since.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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