Published: November 29th 2009November 28th 2009
Harvard & The Wirraway
Sorry we don't know how to spell Wirraway
I was born in Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham, in 1963 and spent most of my adult life living in Southampton, strangely enough both places synonymous with the Spitfire, the creation of RJ Mitchell, a brillant aircraft designer and aircraft that still makes the hairs on my arms stand up, everytime I see one.
Castle Bromwich is the place where my childhood was enjoyed, a great village, formed in Anglo Saxon times, more importantly to me, a place where my family lived but equally a place that produced 20,000 Spitfires from 1940 onwards, in a factory that still exists but is now where Jaguar makes its cars.
RJ Mitchell went to work for the Supermarine aviation works in Southampton in 1917 and went on to design the S6B which won the Schneider Trophy in 1931 and later broke the world air speed record, he was awarded the CBE in 1932 for his contribution to high-speed flight.
The first design of the Spitfire flew in 1934 and many examples still adorn the skies around the world and today we will be lucky to see a Mk 8 and Mk 16, the only two flying Spitfires in Australia.
I can remember my mother telling me, when she was a young girl, playing up in Bluebell woods on pimple hill, places I played as a child, she used to watch the Spitfires being rolled out and test flown, before they would have been delivered to the active squadrons in the war.
The wind really got up in the night, it was so bad that the side of the tent was really blowing in, the cold wind seemed to be getting into the sleeping bag so we ended up doing the inner flaps up so that it would stop the draught, it helped a bit but with that strong wind, not much was going to help.
Andy had got out of bed, I don’t know what time, but he got back into bed after giving up making a cup of tea, the wind was too strong and the kettle was taking too long to boil, eventually it was 8.00 and I decided I had to get up, I put the kettle on, it was taking ages but with some perseverance and finding a way to block the wind, we finally got our cup of tea.
even had my fleece on this morning, the sun was up but with that cold wind, my fleece was more than welcome.
David introduces himself, he arrived this morning and parked up next to our trailer, he too was surprised to see this place not very busy. David explained that he stayed in town last night as he thought it would be too packed out here.
While talking David said “something’s coming!” Now, I am thinking he can hear an aeroplane that I cannot, explaining further “the birds are flustered, there must be a bird of prey around, sure enough within moments, we see a Black Falcon appear, Galahs, Australian Magpie’s and all of the other birds are now fleeing for their lives. The Black Falcon sticks around for a while, but we do not see if he gets any breakfast.
David is from Agnes Water in Queensland (up by the town of 1770), he is having a nice long holiday and tells us that he was driving back up to Queensland when he heard about the air show so turned around to come back, it took him a week to get here. While on the road,
David tells us he is promoting business for his boss, The LARC’s 1770 Environmental Tours, which includes trips up to the Bustard Head Lightstation, David is an Environmental Tour Guide.
Lee and Marilyn arrive at 10.00 as planned, they parked their car by ours, we sat in the sunshine and had a quick cup of tea but by now the day is starting to warm up a little the wind has dropped and the breeze is nice and cool. We knew we wouldn’t miss the flying display as we are only 50 mtrs from the flight line, and as the display wouldn’t fly below about 200ft then we would see everything over the hangers anyway.
We grabbed our chairs and walked through the gate and took our position, Caroline and myself were surprised at just how few people were around. I have been to lots of air shows in the UK, with crowds getting up in to the tens of thousands, all getting there ridiculously early to get their sacred place on the flight line, all pushing and jostling to get the very best vantage point. Not to mention the long traffic queues and being directed to park
in a place where you will never find your car until every other car has left!
When I fist saw the aircraft to be displayed today, and seemed somewhat disappointed, in the UK, they air show organisers always pulled out the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight whilst the Americans always bestowed the very best of aviation technology that was available, like the Rockwell B1B, or the stealth Bomber.
Here we are in a tiny little town in Australia, (Temora) on a beautiful warm day of about 38 degree’s, in our section of the airport no more than 200 people all looked to the sky as 2 Spitfires gracefully danced around the sky with the Rolls Royce Merlin engines growling as they tumbled around, the Spitfires flew with an American P51 Mustang and a Curtiss P40 Kittyhwark. Sadly one of the Spitfires landed early with oil pressure problems.
The display was just fantastic, though only a small air show, we saw, some amazing aircraft, that are not really shown on the UKK circuit anymore, it was great to see them, aircraft like the DeHavilland Vampire, or the English Electric Canberra and the Gloucester Meteor.
The whole day
was packed with some great flying, but strangely enough in the UK when you go to an air show or other out door event it usually just pours down and spoils the day, benefit here was it was the most beautiful sunny day without the crowds, oh yes and we didn’t have to pay to go in what a bonus, it was $20.00 each to go in via the museum, but as we are camping virtually on the flight line we could see what we wanted to anyway.
The show came to an end at about 3.30 so we walked back to the Wendy House and put the kettle on, well the only thing to do after a hard day enjoying yourself is have a cup of tea.
We had agreed that we again would go to Ariah Park tonight where Lee and Marylyn were staying as it was a fantastic hotel and the food was brilliant, so we decided to use the $40.00 entry fee that we saved to treat ourselves to another decent meal out.
Lee and Marylyn left at about 4.00pm and headed back to Ariah Park, we would have a bit of a
relax, a shower then get ourselves ready for another great evening.
Caroline is reading the paper, she see’s an article about Brits leaving the UK, and in 2008, it was the highest recorded number with 427,000 emigrating from the UK with 56,000 coming to Australia, and we are pleased to be two of them that fall into these statistics.
On the way out we needed to fill up with Diesel, heading out of town towards Griffith and turning for Ariah Park, some 35k’s from where we are staying.
We arrive at the Ariah Park Hotel at 7.00 am suitably washed and coiffed, we find lee and Marilyn talking to two guys who recognised me from the air show today, Ben and Andrew are both from Gouldburn and both have their private pilots licence, we both ask them if they flew up to the airs how but they drove, how sweet would that be, flying in and then flying home, which is what many of the attendees have done today.
Andrew (Miskelly) works in Sydney and Ben Matthes works in Canberra, both good blokes, who were really interesting to talk to.
Tonight is Thai night, but
This Spitfire had oil pressure problems and had to land
again I opt for something that moo’s hhilst Caroline went for grilled chicken, all six of us sat in the dining room and had a few beers and a good laugh.
Everyone (except Caroline) wanted a pudding, although Andrew recommended the sticky date pudding, I asked for apple pie and custard, Andrew said “Custard! Its 38 degrees outside, why do you want custard?” So I ended up with ice cream on my apple pie.
Caroline had taken 186 frames today and had loaded them on to the PC, which we took with us, so we could run a slide show for Lee and Marilyn who both enjoy taking pictures. We run the slide show and I think some of her pictures are excellent, it is late and we are tired, its unusual to have eaten out, but twice in a week is pretty good going for us.
We say goodbye to everyone and thank them for a great evening, and soon we are leaving this fabulous little town of Ariah Park heading back to our Wendy House in Temora.
Before we left Andy was chatting to the owner, we find out that this little jewel of
a hotel is for sale, him and his wife have run it for four years, but his wife now does not want to do this anymore, so for a snip at $425,000 you can grab yourself a nice little hotel/pub, probably needs a little bit of work done on it, but they have worked really hard on this place, it is a real gem.
The night is still, the runway lights are already switched off by the time we get back and we head straight to bed, the night is cool but comfortable, how long that will last, who knows, but we hope that the morning would not be as bad as this morning.
There are more photos below