Well, 2011- what a year!
We have had a few tough bits over the last 12 months – with the occasional minor setback, but generally progress has been great & another year has passed when I have been proud to be part of our incredible team of people. We have grown to over 800 members now – Wow! I'm looking forward to getting to 1000 this coming year!
Our function crew have been “flat out” in the last few months, with many visitors taking part in gatherings held in our premises keeping them on their toes. They have done exceptionally well. Thanks also to the volunteers that help with the setups and constant re-arrangement of the Hangar. We are now entering the cruise ship season and we expect those visitors to be regular parts of our day now so we expect to have a busy summer.
Our new website – with its many revised facets is going hugely well, creating a far better platform of communication & accessibility. (Have a look at Peter Rowley promoting us with various “snippets” in his usual clever style – check out the "Stuff To Do" page on our website.)
The Volunteer Crew have been working hard on many projects – with the culmination of the Hangar 3 development being our most recent task. In particular Ian Swainson, Bruce Chapman and Pete Ham have been going “Hell for Leather” on the deconstruction of the old "military hangar" collection and the preparation for the setup for aircraft, military & engineering displays into Hangar 3 and the subsequent ability to provide more room for our general operations which also include the Hangar 5 Classic Flight Training ops which are also building quietly away in the background too. Come and have a look at how hard the guys have worked – and the impressive result that is forming, hopefully to be complete by Christmas. Well done to all who have participated!
The Skyhawk & Aermacchi arrivals have been slightly postponed – due to operational constraints that the RNZAF have – but we will look forward to a special event to mark their arrival early in 2012. The Skyhawk fund is now over Two Thirds full – with a huge display of interest and support from the public – so my sincere thanks to all who have stepped up to help with the acquisition of this aircraft. It will be a great asset to have in our facility – and the people of Tauranga.
Our “Classics of The Sky” airshow is now taking priority – with all facets reaching the “Green Light” phase now – and looking good. Don’t forget to register your interest with either Di or Beth if you want to volunteer to help on the weekend – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can't wait to hear the sound of Classic aircraft – fighter planes & jets on Anniversary weekend 2012!
Bye for now-
On a sunny Sunday this past 27th November Diane Jeffery and a few good keen volunteers from the Sunday morning shift took our entry to this years Santa Parade down the mainstreet of Mt Maunganui. This year was a record crowd turnout (estimated at 35,000) to this annual event. Phil Hooker in (Marty Cantlon's) T51 Mustang and Andrew Gormlie in the YAK52 gave a display overhead before the parade started. As usual our presence there raised our profile with the public at a time of year when families are looking for something to do over the summer holidays.
This year we decided to celebrate the (yet to be delivered) arrival of the ex-RNZAF Skyhawk jet fighter as a museum exhibit. We mounted the Red Bull Trolly "Ground Hawk" (that has been donated to us by a team of RNZAF Aircraft Technicians from Ohakea) onto the trailer pulled by the Classic Flyers Jeep . Adorned with a some fake Christmas presents, tinsel and special giant Christmas Present Tags (made by Marty Cantlon of Marty's High Performance Signs) we had the ideal Christmas present that any plane enthusiast could ever ask Santa for!
Photo courtesy Geoff Tansly
Our clever idea was obviously well received by the public and the parade organisers as out of 30+ different floats we won 3rd prize in the best Charity Trust float entry.
So well done to the following volunteers that achieved this great bit of marketing and self promotion for Classic Flyers and for making a number for kids (big and small) smile on the day.
The Santa Parade Team (from left to right)
Bruce Flyger (Jeep Driver)
Geoff Tansley (built frame)
Diane Jeffery (Team Leader)
|Photo courtesy Alan Freer|
The team were so stoked about winning 3rd place, that they have already signed up for next years parade. Now what will our theme for next year be!
On the 21st November 1961 an Aero Commander ZK-BWA twin engine commuter aircraft of BOP Airways on scheduled Flight 92 from Wellington to Rotorua crashed on the summit of Mt Rupehu with the loss of all passengers and crew on board. 50 Years later that event was commemorated at Classic Flyers museum where for the first time the surviving relatives of all families involved met and were able to share memories and stories of those involved in a special 50th Anniversary Commemoration. More importantly the event celebrated the creation of a permanent display at the museum telling the story of BOP Airways and this tragic event. A memorial plaque was also unveiled to mark the occasion.
Over 180 people attended the event in the musem hanger. The event was opened by a powhiri by the local Ngai Te Rangi iwi. After this the guests were welcomed by the museum Chairman David Love. The Rev Richard Waugh who has been instrumental in making this event happen, then welcomed all and led us in prayer for those lost on the mountain. Our local MP Simon Bridges spoke of the achievements of Classic Flyers and their part played in promoting and preserving aviation heritage in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. Captain Bryan Wyness representing the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators praised the role of the early pioneering aviatiors such as BOP Airways pilot Captain Alf Bartlett. Then representatives of each of the family's involved spoke of what it meant for them to be there and the impact this event has had on their family. Rev Richard Waugh then took us through a bible reading before the Plaque was unveiled. The Plaque was blessed and a benediction was read to mark the end of the service.
However the day was not over! After a quick lunch those remaining guests attended several presentations in the Boeing Room at the museum. These presentations were well attended and very well received. First the Rev Richard Waugh gave a short presentation on the history of Bay of Plenty Airways and the state Regional aviation was in at the time of the Air Crash in 1961 to help people get an understanding of how things were back then.
Aero Commander ZK-BWA during a quick 20 minute turn-around at Wellington Airport in December 1960. The aircraft was the most advanced small airliner in New Zealand at the time. (Frank Johnson)
The second speaker was Professor Les Erasmus who gave a very thorough presentation on his independent investigation into the air crash. It was disconcerting to see that official sources (who were quick to lay pilot error as the cause of the crash) had apparent inconsistancies in their crash scene investigation processes. It left no doubt in the end that the primary cause of the air crash was fatigue cracking of the wing spar leading to catastrophic failure of the wing in flight. Professor Erasmus was able to confirm this through painstaking research and investigation from all the evidence available.
The final speaker was Steve Swift (retired) Principal Engineer Fatigue Evaluation, Civil Aviation Authority of Australia (CASA) who gave a clear and interesting presentation about metal fatique failures in aircraft and the significant international impact the investigation into the crash of Aero Commander ZK-BWA has had on the international understanding of metal fatigue failure and how it should be handled to prevent further disasters.
The separated starboard engine and mainplane from ZK-BWA lying inverted some distance from the main aircraft crash site. It lies in stark contrast to the serenity of the snowfields of the North East slope of Mt Ruapehu. (Les Erasmus)
For a more detailed reading on the work done by Professor Erasmus and others in uncovering the injustice done to Captain Alf Bartlett and the families of those killed refer to the attached pdf file containing an article written for NZ Aviation New by Rev Richard Waugh on 13 September 2011.
Click here for Air Crash Injustice
Bruce Chapman and his team of engineering volunteers have been continuing the hard work of restoring the P40 Kittyhawk in Hanger 3 at Classic Flyers. Although progress might not be as visible as it has been up till now is because they are doing a lot of detail work (often hidden from external view).
|Some of the original panels and fairings that were fitted are being replaced with "new build" panels as those original parts were only to be used as templates or moulds to enable the creation of new parts or components. Some aluminium parts such as the deep radiator nose cowling is of such a complex set of curves that it is beyond our ability to reconstruct in metal so will be reproduced in Fibreglass (using the original as a template).|
|Another detail area underway is the wiring up of the electrics, finding suitable cabling to connect the batteries has had its challenges. Eventually all the electrics will be live to enable engine operation and taxiing. One system that is crucial to enable the aircraft to taxi is a set of working brakes. These are being sourced and fitted now and the hydraulic lines and systems installed to operate them. The internal plumbing and wiring of this aircraft will take many man-hours to complete. As many of you will know one of the reasons restored aircraft overseas win acolades or awards at airshows is down to the quality and craftmanship of the internal fittings and systems.|
The other focus of attention is the Allison Engine which when it was stripped down was found to have a scored crankshaft. The engine has been sent to a local engineering shop who are restoring the crankshaft by relayering the bearing surfaces. This is a time consuming process but is significantly cheaper than replacing the engine. The engine should be returned to us by Christmas but it is unlikely to be fitted into the airframe before the Classic Flyers airshow at the end of January.
The BOP Times recorded the death of E.C. (Ted) Arundel over the weekend of October 15/16. Although Classic Flyers had not seen a lot of Ted his career in the RNZAF was a notable one and it is felt we should make mention of him being a Tauranga person in his later life. Born in Christchurch in 1930, he joined the RNZAF in 1946, did all the usual training, eventually converting to multi-engine aircraft, the Oxford being his early experiences. He then went on to Mosquitos, Vampires, Canberra’s and Skyhawk’s. He also spent time as Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General from November 1965 to November 1966. A Squadron Leader by this time his career began to gain momentum, his citation for the Air Force Cross quotes he spent 3 tours with the Central Flying School developing a unique standard of aerobatic performance with particular attention to flying safety standards. He also did evaluation flying on Jet trainers gaining recognition from the Aircraft Manufacturers Test Pilots. His final RNZAF rank rose to Wing Commander. In 1977 Ted joined NAC, going through the Air New Zealand merger and spent 7 years as a training officer, dealing with 410 pilots, the greater part of this experience was with 280 pilots as the DC10s were phased out and B747s came in, a very busy time. His flying career ended in 1996 with health problems. For a while Ted was a member of the local branch of the Aviation Historical Society and we had the pleasure of hearing him speak about his life on more than one occasion. One of his sons, Mark, is also well known in gliding circles around the Bay. Mention must also be made of his book called The Sport of Kings, which he completed in 2000. Our commiserations go out to Ted’s family.
RNZAF Central Flying School Aerobatic Team 1963 - 1964
(L- R) John Canning, Ted Arundel, Stewart Boys
(Seated in cockpit) Barrie Reid
The CFS Display team performed at a number of displays from 1963 to 1964
RNZAC Pageant, Rotorua
This month the spotlight falls on someone who many will not know works tirelessly in the background at Classic Flyers working as the Quality Assurance Manager, Occurance Reporting Officer and Maintenance Controller for the Stearman and Agcat to ensure we can continue to operate these aircraft under CC Approved Air operators Certificates. He is also a member of the Board of Managment at Classic Flyers. His name is Air Commodore Stewart Boys CBE AFC RNZAF (Retired).
In an interview with Stewart over a coffee in the AvGas cafe I discovered that Stewart has a fascinating past that is worth sharing with you all.
Stewart was born on the West Coast of the South Island. After attending Nelson College (where he was an ATC cadet) and Canterbury University (for 1 year) he joined the RNZAF in 1955 aged 18 as a pilot. Stewarts interest in aviation was formed when at the tender age of 15 years he was offered the job of "hangar cat" by the local CFI Paddy Moran at Nelson airfield. He became hooked on flying, from then on he spent all his time and money learning to fly so that by the time he joined the RNZAF he had already qualified as Pilot in Command (PIL) on the Auster and Magister aircraft at the Canterbury Aero Club in 1954.
|Stewart Boys about to fly a DH Vampire Mk52 in early 1956 aged 19 on a conversion course in NZ|
On joining the RNZAF Stewart went through basic flight training starting on Tiger Moths, then Harvard's then transitioning onto jets in the DH Vampire FB5. Which incidentially was Stewart's favourite aircraft due to it being quiet, smooth, easy to handle (except for the last few hundred feet on finals where it needed careful engine managment).
Within a year of joining the RNZAF Stewart was sent to fly DH Venom jets in Singapore in 1956 through to 1958 with 14 Squadron as part of the Malayan Emergency. Being a fresh faced 19 year old on active duty in what was effectively a "war zone" would for many people be a very daunting experience. However Stewart described it as "the best time of my life". Also it was not all that bad as the "emergency" had quietened down by then and he was mostly on reserve status. The average age of the men serving there was 22 years. Stewart felt he was lucky in that he did not lose any friends or comrades while on duty there. However they did lose a number of aircraft to accidents. One in particular was when a fellow pilot was performing a loop at 30,000ft when the aircraft went into a flat spin and crashed at the edge of the jungle (with no loss of life). The DH Venom aircraft also suffered with fatique problems reducing the availability of aircraft for active sorties.
|14 Sqdn Venom Line-up in Singapore (RAF Tengah) had an establishment of 16 Venoms plus two T11 Vampires||A Youthful pilot officer Boys in the hot and steamy climate of Singapore||Bombs Away- a typical strike 4 Venoms in a diamond pattern 70 yards apart at 2,000 ft above target release all bombs together on the leaders command. The target being marked with smoke by an AOP Auster.|
The 1962 CFS Wigram team. From left to right Stewart Boys, John Buckmaster, Barrie Reid and Barry Flavall. The photo was taken at Gisborne in August 1962.
Returning from Singapore in 1959, Stewart became a Flying Instructor at the Central Flying School, then eventually Flight Commander at Wigram. The various CFS Wigram display teams were piloted by instructors from the RNZAF's Central Flying School, and from Pilot Training Squadron. Their Harvard aircraft were modified with the addition of diesel-oil smoke tanks fitted above the rear seats which emitted the white smoke that enhanced their routine, and extender pipes fitted to the exhaust to keep the oil off the fuselage.
Over a period of 4 years Stewart and his fellow instructor pilots performed in their Harvards the length and breadth of the country displaying their skills to appreciative crowds.
In 1966 Stewart was promoted to Squadron leader with responsibility for junior officer and aircrew postings. It was a "bit of a desk job" in Wellington which he managed to escape via a one year posting to the RAF in 1969 on an aerosystems course. This course was to place him in the perfect position on his return to New Zeland in 1970 to be promoted to CO of 14 Sqdn and be selected for the first NZ course on Skyhawks. He became responsible for jet conversion/fighter lead-in training on Vampires and Skyhawks. He was then promoted to Wing Commander 75 Sqdn with Skyhawks. Eventually becoming OC Flying at Ohakea with 75 Sqdn.
|A4 Skyhawk in 2 Sqdn markings over Wellington||The weapons capbility of the A4 Skyhawk was legendary compared to the Venom which was only capable of carrying 2 x 1000lb bombs or 8 x 3 inch 75lb HE rockets and 600 x 20mm canon rounds|
You would think that transitioning from the Venom to the Skyhawk would have been a big jump in technology and performance. But Stewart took it all in his stride. He felt it was easy to fly with lift augmentation from leading edge slats and a braking parachute to aid on landing. Although you did need 100+ hours to become competant! Stewart's highlight of his time with 75 Sqdn was in 1984 when he was sent to the Philipines on Operation Cape Thunder Exercises where he was Senior Officer (representing NZ). These exercises pitted the US, Australian and New Zealand Airforces against each other in mock combat both air-to-air and air-to-ground. At one stage the Kiwis were given the lead on a "packet" consisting of A10 Warthogs, A4 Skyhawks, F15 Eagles, F4 Phantom, F16 Falcons and AWACs aircraft. The Kiwi led "packet" was able to sucesfully complete its mission with no losses (compared to all other previous "packets" due to the Kiwis superior tactics and flying skills by coming in at very low level at 480Kts from multiple angles. During these "packets" their aircraft carried full size but inert weapons. Stewart was most proud that his bombs straddled the target runway.
Stewart returned to Ohakea as Base Commander in 1982 for a record tour of 4 1/2 years. On his 50th Birthday in October 1986 he flew an operational training flight in a Skyhawk, then retired to the Mess for a lunch time party. At the end of 1986 he was promoted Air Commodore and sent to Singapore as Commander NZ Force SEA for a 3 year tour, before returning to NZ. He finally retired from the RNZAF in 1988 after 37 years. with a grand total of 5197 flying hours logged.
The list of aircraft that Stewart has flown are:
Pilot in Command: Auster, Magister, Tiger Moth, Vampire, Venom, Harvard, DEvon, Skyhawk, Strikemaster, Dakota
Also flown: Piper Tri-Pacer, Lincoln, Valette, Canberra, Hastings, Sioux, Macchi 339, Mirage, Donninie, Bristol Freighter, Sunderland (least favourite) and Stearman
So next time you see Stewart ask him about his time in the RNZAF on Skyhawks, we may just have to put Stewart on permanent display alongside the Skyhawk when it arrives.
All photos in this article courtesy of Stewart Boys
On 23rd October the skies over Tauranga reverberated to the unmistable sound of a Rolls Royce Viper jet engine pushing a BAC Strikemaster through the sky. After much swooping around and multiple touch-n-goes on the runway the reason for all this activity became apparent when it pulled up on the Classic Flyers hard stand.
The owner of this particular aircraft (BAC Strikemaster Mk88 NZ6370) Brett Nicholls had just gone solo under the expert guidance of Andy Hope (pilot of Fly-Dakota DC3 based at Ardmore). Naturally Brett was still up on cloud 9 as he described the exhilaration of flying this historic jet trainer from the RNZAF. Although he did admit to having to work quite hard during the landings!
The aircraft itself was one of twelve aircraft used by the RNZAF up until 1993 when it was sold to a private owner in Australia. Brett has recently re-imported the aircraft and it is now based at Ardmore. The aircraft still has its original RNZAF paintwork and markings. Brett is hoping to get CAA Part 135 Operation approval for the aircraft so that he and Andy can offer Adventure Aviation flights in it. Something to look forward to!
Check out the following images of an aircraft that was nicknamed "Blunty" by the aircrews and ground crews that served with it.
On Saturday 12th November a team of volunteers and pilots embarked on a day trip to Whakatane Airport for a Fly-in in support of the Open Day for Aero Hire owned by Peter Rutledge. Peter has built a new hanger and training room for his new flight flight school operation (www.aerohire.co.nz).
Another bright sunny morning saw the departure of the following aircraft for Whakatane (Grumman Agcat, 2 x Boeing Stearman, Cessna Bird Dog, T51 Mustang) and joined later on site by the Messerschmitt Bf-108 Taifun of the Historic Aircraft Trust. After a scenic flight across country to Whakatane the team based themselves out of Peter Rutledge's new hanger.
|T51 Mustang on the way to Whakatane||T51 Mustang doing a flypast at Whakatane|
The local population came out to see what all the fuss and excitement was at the airport. They were then treated to an impromptu air display by the T51 Mustang and Messercshmitt Me-108 doing a tail-chase flying sequence followed by some aerobatics in the T51 Mustang. During the course of the day a number of scenic flights were sold in the Agcat and Stearman affording locals the opportunity to view their hometown from the air. Thanks to Di Jeffery for driving down with all the Classic Flyers airshow promo material and selling those tickets on the day.
All CFNZ members were treated to a bar-b-que by Peter and his team in the new hangar. Afterwards everyone returned to Tauranga just beating the rain that came at the end of the day. All-in-all it was a successful and enjoyable day out for those that made it there. But don't feel bad if you did not get there yourself. Thanks to Di Jefferry and Garry Bentley we have captured some of the days highlights on video. Click here to see a short video of the Whakatane Fly-in.
On a sunny day in November Bruce Chapman and Russell Harris decided the time was right for the A37 Dragonfly to stretch its wings and put it through its paces over Tauranga!
The flight was captured on video on the day by Garry Bentley. Mixed with some earlier footage taken of the A37 from Phil Hooker's helicopter it is available for viewing here. Click here to watch the A37 Dragonfly flexing its wings over Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.
Look carefully at the B-17 and note how shot up it is - one engine dead, tail, horizontal stabilizer and nose shot up. It was ready to fall out of the sky. (This is a painting done by an artist from the description of both pilots many years later.) Then realize that there is a German Bf-109 fighter flying next to it. Now read the story below. I think you'll be surprised ...
Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub' and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.
After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. The top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere.
Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.
|BF-109 pilot Franz Stigler||B-17 pilot Charlie Brown|
Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to, and slightly over, the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe. When Franz landed he told the CO that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody. Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.
More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.
They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.
(L-R) German Ace Franz Stigler, artist Ernie Boyett, and B-17 pilot Charlie Brown
When asked why he didn't shoot them down, Stigler later said, "I didn't have the heart to finish those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were trying desperately to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting at a man in a parachute." Both men died in 2008
Source for this article from an anonymous email