February 7th, 1998 - Matamata
Sportavex is the national get together held every other year by New Zealand's Sport Aircraft Association. The last couple have been held at the Waharoa airfield at Matamata. I missed the 1996 event, so this year I was keen to attend. I dragged my poor partner out there at 9.00am, and then abandoned her while I went off to check out the aircraft.
One of the advantages of being early, is that you get to wander up close to the aircraft - the organisers of this event are particularly kind allowing visitors to wander amongst the aircraft on a 'look but don't touch' basis. There aren't too many people to get in the way when you get photographs , and you also get to see some of the aircraft arriving. Sportavex is held over three days - the first is a competition/trade day, and the airshow is on the second day. That meant most of the sport aircraft were already there - but I did get to see some others (particularly the Warbirds) arrive.
Some of the aircraft that were coming and going are shown above. I didn't abandon Louise entirely - and as she was indulging in a little Teddy Bear making (that's her obsession) she attracted a little attention herself! Amongst the official displays were a range of aircraft, some of the media trying to drum up subscriptions, various clubs, and extras like the Di Blasi folding motorbikes.
The weather decided to be distinctly odd - after a week of dry, very hot days we got fog which cleared before the cloud rolled in, and produced rain. This cleared away leaving a humid cloudy day which when the sun came out left us scorched! Oh well - it didn't stop the show which started about one o'clock with model aircraft, and then lots of the real thing.
Hignlights for me were numerous - the Jodel's celebrating their 50th anniversary, the amazing Slepcev Storch, the Lancair IV, Sir Kenneth Hayr's Yak-52 display, and the Westland Scout, now in agricultural guise ....
I particularly enjoyed the totally over the top Pitts Special display by Richard Hood. There was also parachutists, along with warbird participation - Harvards and the DC-3, as well as Vintage aircraft like the DH84 Dragon, and the RNZAF display team, the 'Red Checkers'.
All in all, a pretty good day, and then I got to look at the aircraft some more! At the conclusion of the show, the airfield was opened again for the joyriders - the DC-3 kept up a steady flow all day, as well as the Rotorua based Stearman, and the Catalina Club attracted some new members. (I didn't make it out to day 3 - but this was a fun day, with lots of rides, trial flights and the like!).
I finished up by wandering round and discovering some of the attractions back in the hangars - like a partially completed BD-5 (for sale, only NZ$5000), before checking out the warbirds. Not being in a hurry to leave (who wants to sit in a traffic queue), it was fun watching some of the aircraft depart - like the Bf108 Taifun!
So I'd like to say thankyou to the Sport Aircraft Association for a fun day (and for mentioning my site in the printed airshow programme)!
© 1998 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved