In this era of carbon-fibre jets and everyday commuter air travel I often lament the passing of the Golden Age of aviation – those heroic days of the 1920s and 1930s when passengers boarded canvas-and-wood biplanes and then picnicked, aloft, on potted ham and champagne stored aboard in wicker hampers. It was an age when barnstorming airmen ruled the skies and ‘air races’ were all the rage, and when Amelia Erhart and Kingsford Smith were household names.
Luckily my home country, New Zealand, has one of the most interesting collections of operational vintage aircraft in the Southern Hemisphere. Including, thanks to Sir Peter Jackson, several Fokker Dr.1’s, neatly finished to 3/4 scale. And there’s an aerobatic team, the ‘Roaring Forties’, equipped with North American T-6 Texans (Harvards).
I photographed this one at Napier airport. The type was the Allied advanced trainer of the Second World War, and remained in that role with the Royal New Zealand Air Force until the 1970s. Today the ‘Roaring Forties’ put on tremendous displays – taking off together in formation, then swooping and circling with absolute precision.
And if you want to learn more about the RNZAF and their Harvards, among other aircraft – well, the story’s in my book Kiwi Air Power, available from Amazon.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015