The world's only flying De Havilland Mosquito proved to be a huge drawcard yesterday for hundreds of aviation enthusiasts who crowded the tarmac outside Classic Flyers to welcome an aircraft making its first and last visit to Tauranga.
All it needed was a bit of patience because the newly rebuilt classic World War II fighter/bomber arrived nearly two hours late.
Classic Flyers Museum chief executive Andrew Gormlie said the Mosquito was so new that it was having work done on it all the time and needed a bit more tweaking than expected at Ardmore Aerodrome before it flew out for Tauranga.
Luckily some flexibility around the start time for the 6pm special meeting of the Aviation Historic Society meant people were still able to view the aircraft up close and enjoy fly-pasts.
"They still had a chance to see the aircraft, just not as long as they thought," Mr Gormlie said.
He was pleased but not surprised at the big turnout. "It is a pretty unique item. It's the only one flying in the world."
The Mosquito arrived about 4.20pm, did a couple of tests followed by fly-pasts before taxiing to the tarmac outside Classic Flyers.
Nick-named the 'Wooden Wonder' when it took to the air in World War II, the Mosquito's spruce construction meant it did not stay in the skies after the war for as long as other classic aircraft from the same era.
It had been nearly 20 years since the last Mosquito was airborne and this fighter/bomber version would also have been still firmly on the ground if not for a painstaking 15-year rebuild by Avspecs at Ardmore.
Built from wood because of the shortage of metal during the war, the aircraft was developed and produced in the space of just one year by De Havilland, quickly proving itself as a versatile and effective aircraft able to fly high and fast.
It was piloted yesterday by Keith Skilling who later described his recent experience of flying the Mosquito to the special meeting which was open to members of the public.