Thousands of people flocked to the Royal New Zealand Air Force open day at Hawke's Bay airport yesterday.

"From our perspective it was a fantastic day," Royal New Zealand Air Force public affairs officer Squadron Leader Simon Eichelbaum said.

"It was great because people were really enthusiastic and the one thing that came across strongly was that people were really keen to find out more about why we are here and what we are doing - that is immensely gratifying."

In terms of coping with the amount of traffic coming and going over the four hours the open day was staged, SqnLdr Eichelbaum said it went as well as expected.


"There were some inevitable delays but people were pretty patient - and those who decided to stay right to the very end of the day got a bonus as they got to the see the helicopters leave."

Police reported no traffic incidents as motorists took in the temporary 50km/h speed limits along the SH2 stretch by the airport.

When the gates opened at 12.30pm Mr Eichelbaum did a rough count of what he called "the first wave".

He estimated that within 20 minutes about 1000 people had arrived.

"We're not sure of the exact numbers throughout the day but it was certainly several thousand."

As well as static displays of aircraft a Hercules C-130 went through its spectacular operational abilities at low level, and a defence force working dog team put on a show.