We Had an Air Force




and then the Wicked Witch cast her spells and all the lovely ‘forcey’ bits flew away. Now in New Zealand we have an air force in name only; they kept the name on, thus saving a fortune in letterheads*. The Royal New Zealand Air Transport Service doesn’t have the same cachet for a title—perhaps the ‘truth in advertising’ laws down here don’t apply to air forces.


The RNZAF aerobatic teams flew down recently and put on a display over Invercargill. I bimbled off to the estuary in plenty of time armed with my camera and perfectly inadequate warm clothing—the strong wind did nothing for my telephoto shots and the cold content of that wind did nothing to stop me shaking. In the end I compromised by sitting down on the windward side of the seawall where the back pressure lowered the breeze from typhoon to mere gale, and by dint of taking a snap every time an aircraft appeared anywhere near the viewfinder (and much weeding later) I ended up with a few acceptable images.


None of your poncey jets for us—our boys use good old-fashioned piston engined beasts and give a superb display. Probably a major advantage in that they don’t spread the show over many miles of countryside (much tighter turning circles). The planes are Victa Airtrainers and when I asked one of the pilots later he said they were three hundred horsepower. So now we know. Actually he was ferrying by hand some plastic jerricans boldly labelled ‘Diesel’ towards the parked planes—I couldn’t resist it, with my most incredulous look and as straight a face as I could manage I told him that no way could he make me believe those craft flew on Diesel—?!

He took it well and we had a brief chat. The diesel is injected into the exhausts at the right time to produce the smoke trails. Now we know.


Sure beats wurkin' ...
Sure beats wurkin’ …


Normally I post photos ‘just as they come from the cow’— the only latitude I allow my off-camera creativity is a bit of cropping. Or a flip-and-join; and that, as they say, is that


Twins paradox applied to Victas
Twins paradox applied to Victas


So you’ll appreciate the pure serendipity of this next one—it wasn’t until I was at home later uploading to the computer that I discovered that a duck (?) had joined the formation:  this is NOT Photoshop, it was click-and-capture (by chance)—


At least one of these aviators is a natural ...
At least one of these aviators is a natural …


I love the growl of good well-tuned engines; and routine or otherwise I’m sure these guys enjoyed doing it as much as I enjoyed watching it—


CT-4E Airtrainer


I had a vested interest: pure nostalgia. There’s something about prop aircraft that jets with all their zip and power seem to lack—I was out on the grass at Auckland Airport one day when two P51 Mustangs of WW2 vintage flew in low and fast for a ‘beat up’. A deep full-throated visceral roar that no damned turbines could ever hope to match …



* Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables …



10 thoughts on “We Had an Air Force

  1. They’re going to mortgage Australia to buy an F35? Cool …

    And I guess one day NZ will be an Ozz state, so we’ll have our own F35s that you guys will have paid for. Cooler …

    And when both of us are part of the American empire we might get the latest F-whatevers all for free? Coolest …

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