Classic Flyers Museum at Tauranga Airport recently became home to ex-RNZAF Skyhawk NZ6201. We were privileged to be invited to the unveiling. Aviation enthusiasts raised $34,000 to pay for the transportation of the aircraft from Woodbourne to the museum. Hours of volunteer time went into preparing the 43 year-old aircraft for display, with Air Cdre (Rtd) Stew Boys providing the all-important technical information in addition to manual labour.
The occasion opened with a spectacular aerobatic display in a Harvard by former Skyhawk pilot Dave Brown, who showed he had lost none of his youthful flair.
My highlight was hearing former RNZAF Skyhawk pilots, including my very own Iggy, share their own experiences of flying the aircraft. Iggy spoke of his nostalgic final flight in Skyhawk 01 in December 1973, on a dusk strike to Volkner air weapons range adjacent to White Island (not far from Tauranga). The weapons sortie included bombing under the light of a flare dropped from another Skyhawk. The fading light seemed fitting.
Prior to the unveiling, we refuelled at the museum’s AvGas Café and Bar. We were served a most generous B.L.A.T. – fresh focaccia, which included the crispiest bacon, the freshest lettuce and copious quantities of perfectly ripened avocado (locally grown, no doubt). The café was packed. A friendly and efficient team of paid staff and volunteers kept the food and coffees coming out, with never a lapse in the quality of the fare or the standard of service.
A note for one of my blog followers who particularly likes French toast – I have a feeling that the French toast, bacon and banana stack at the AvGas Café and Bar may well rival the French toast you enjoyed so much at The Shack in Raglan – and I know who would be intrigued by the vintage model collection hanging overhead.