Spitfire roars back into life

By Roger Moroney

1 comment
The  Supermarine Spitfire fighter which will take to the skies  as part of a major air event next month.
The Supermarine Spitfire fighter which will take to the skies as part of a major air event next month.

One of the most legendary fighter aircraft of all time, the Supermarine Spitfire, is set to spread its wings over the skies of Hawke's Bay next month as part of an air event being staged to coincide with the Tremain Art Deco Weekend and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the airport.

It will be in fine company, Napier Aero Club president Len Searle said after confirming the Spitfire's scheduled appearance.

The aircraft's distinctive V12 Merlin engine will be matched by the similar powerplant in the P51 Mustang which has become a regular annual visitor.

A Curtis Kitttyhawk, another fighter from World War II, has also been confirmed for the event.

"A Grumman Avenger and an Avro Anson are also possibilities," Mr Searle said.

The event, which will take place on February 22 and 23, will also have a Russian touch with the arrival of Yak military training aircraft as well as their US training equivalents, the North American Harvards.

Tiger Moths and a Pitts Special were also lined up as well as a DC3 - "possibly two" Mr Searle added.

One of the features of the air display will be a WW1-design BE2c aircraft owned by Masterton-based The Vintage Aviator.

It is a full-sized flying replica of the aircraft Hawke's Bay people donated to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915.

As part of the event there will be a special re-enactment at the airport of the aircraft's handing-over ceremony which originally took place during WW1 at Farnborough airfield in England.

In the case of the Spitfire, it will be the first time one has touched down in Napier since a brief appearance at a Royal New Zealand Air Force open day staged at Hawke's Bay Airport in June 2010.

The Mk IX Spitfire appearing here was built in 1944 and is owned by Marton businessman Brendon Deere - it is his flying salute to his illustrious uncle, WWII fighter ace Squadron Leader Al Deere.

He came across the Spitfire, which was in need of major restoration, in Myanmar where it had last flown in 1956 and been placed on a plinth as a display.

A team of aviation technicians and engineers spent five years completely restoring it to the exact specifications and appearance of his uncle's aircraft in 1943 - right down to the special "Al" fuselage markings.

"We expect the weather to be good for the weekend and all the aircraft should be here for the event," Mr Searle said.

"The public will be able to view the aircraft up close at the airport and see them in the air over the city."

He said negotiations were continuing to get other classic aircraft here.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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