Pilots hoping for clear skies ahead

By Roger Moroney

Add a comment
Preparing to fly this weekend are Jeff Clarkson (left) with a Fokker triplane, Marty Hughes and his Tiger Moth and Phil Sharp with his Sopwith Pup. Photo / Paul Taylor
Preparing to fly this weekend are Jeff Clarkson (left) with a Fokker triplane, Marty Hughes and his Tiger Moth and Phil Sharp with his Sopwith Pup. Photo / Paul Taylor

For Phil Sharp, one of the new members of the Model Flying Hawke's Bay club who moved to the region from Katikati a couple of months back, there are likely to be "some nerves" when he fires up the twin-cylinder 55cc engine of his finely detailed Sopwith Pup this weekend.

For it is an aircraft with plenty of history - not just in the WWI flesh of things but in terms of the time it took to make its maiden flight after he first started building it.

"I started it back in 1980," he said, explaining that he had worked in the UK for some years before returning to New Zealand and then heading back to the UK again.

"I packed it up and took it back with me and then came back six years ago - and finally finished it off."

So it was effectively 30 years in the making.

And when he made his first flight at the controls after having arrived to live in the Bay it was in front of many interested club members.

"So I was a bit nervy then and I nosed it on the first landing ... but the second one was better," he said with a smile.

The one-third scale aircraft is a real attention grabber and Mr Sharp said it "flies beautifully on a calm day".

So he and his fellow club members are hopeful the weekend for the Warbirds Over Awatoto flying displays on April 23 and 24 will be tranquil ... and dry.

At this stage the forecast is for mild winds, cloud with the possibility of some rain on Sunday.

Like most members it is not the only plane in the hangar.

"I've got a trailer full of them," Mr Sharp said.

But he's got a way to go to catch up to the miniature squadron of long-time club member Marty Hughes of Hastings.

"I've got 13 in the shed and about 10 of them would be flying," Mr Hughes said.

In pride of place is the Tiger Moth his father built about 15 years ago, and which still ticks along nicely at 50km/h.

"It's like a gentle old lady and I nurse it along," he said, adding the only awkward moments came during landings if there was a crosswind.

"You have to throw in a lot of rudder."

For Havelock North radio flyer Jeff Clarkson three wings are better than two - especially when young kids are about.

"They love the Red Baron thing - Snoopy and all that," he said as he checked out his Fokker triplane which he built seven years ago.

"I got some plans and got the materials and it took about a month to put together," Mr Clarkson said.

It will be getting a makeover before hitting the skies over the airfield as the old motor is a bit tired and he's just taken delivery of a new one.

He also has a Tiger Moth and a twin-engined Catalina.

"I'll have the Catalina here too but not the Tiger - a wing came off a while back."

Club president Stuart Sturge said the three pilots would be among about 60 set to put their aircraft into the skies for the event.

It was earlier postponed at Art Decofestival time due to poor initial weather forecasts.

"There will be around 70 aircraft here from all eras," Mr Sturge said, adding there would be howling jets among them.

- Hawkes Bay Today

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 30 May 2017 12:16:32 Processing Time: 490ms