It had been raining steadily in Dannevirke since 2am Sunday and at 6.30am at The Lamason Field (Dannevirke Aerodrome), there were anxious eyes looking skyward waiting to see if any aeroplanes would arrive for the annual dawn raid.
The breakfast and coffee were waiting and organisers weren't disappointed as plane after plane dropped out of the black sky to land. Aviators weren't put off by the inclement weather and even Jan and Jerry Chisum from Hastings braved the conditions in their open cockpit Moths.
"It's been a great effort by a lot of pilots in not great conditions," Vince Payne of the Dannevirke Flying Club said.
First in was John Arends of Pahiatua, an ex-agricultural pilot, but the prize for the plane which had flown the furthest went to Richard Coop who had flown with his wife Hannah and two children, Liam, 1, and Eva, 2, from Mahia. They narrowly pipped a Wellington pilot and closest to the mark was Jerry Chisum from Hastings.
But not everyone was airborne for the raid. Grandfathers Les Appleford and Bill Prebensen from Havelock North had their two grandchildren out of bed at 5am for the drive south to Dannevirke.
"Dannevirke is a great club," Bill said. "You know when you're flying if you are heading to the biggest, baddest black cloud, that will be Dannevirke."
Les, an aviation enthusiast, hadn't been to a dawn raid before and with 31 planes dropping in, bringing more than 80 visitors, it was worth the long drive.
And the best thing for the grandchildren?
"The bacon, eggs, sausages and hash browns," Liam said.
Dawn raids are traditionally held in winter.
"You've got to get out and run up the hours because there are so many fixed costs with planes," Dannevirke's Keith Cammock said.
"It's a great way to see the country and New Zealand shrinks very quickly when you are up in the air."
With the flying club having an excellent relationship with the Tararua District Council which owns the aerodrome, they have asked for it to be renamed The Lamason Field in honour of our great aviation war hero, Phil Lamason, and Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said the name change will be put to the CAA.
* More coverage and views of Dannevirke from the sky in Saturday's edition of the Dannevirke News.