April 1, 2000 - Whenuapai
The Air Force always put on a good show, and this one was no exception. I guess its an advantage having the fast movers and the really heavy metal to throw around. Managed to get to Whenuapai fairly early, where my wife abandoned me to go shopping. That didn't worry me, and I got down to having a good wander round the static exhibits. I started with the Naval flight hangar, where I got my first good look at at SH-2F.
Had a good look at the offerings outside too. Have had lots of requests for Sioux (Bell 47) pictures. Picked up on a few other aircraft too.
Then I worked myself right down to the far end of the base, where the warbirds were located. Filled in time till the show started catching up with various people, and catching a few pictures too. Highlight was having a look at the newly restored P-40N-1 which was having its first show outing.
The warbirds started the display programme - the three ship formation combining a Vampire with a Mustang and Kittyhawk was superb. At midday the RNZAF joined in. Lots of noise and excitement. The pictures below give a taste of what was happening. The highlight for me couldn't be fitted in a single picture however. A three ship formation involving a C-130, a P-3K, and a B727 with a wingtip seperation measured in metres. The aircraft came in from behind the crowd and broke overhead - lots of noise and lots of metal! On a smaller scale, the Sioux ballet was a delight to behold.
Along the way I managed to meet up with a number of people - which surprised me, as it was a huge (20,000+) crowd. We had a great time using up film, and critiquing the performances. The day ended with the inevitable set piece battlefield simulation. Lots of low flying UH-IH's, A-4K's screaming in as a mock attack, and some seriously loud pyrotechnics - wonderful!
© 2001 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved