Over the last few months many of us have enjoyed watching this wonderful Spitfire flying again following an intensive six year restoration.
Having visited Ohakea to photograph the aircraft Air 2 Air for the first time through to the fly-past at Woodbourne the other day, I thought I would put a thread together on what I have seen so far and it would be great if you guys can add your photos and stories of the aircraft here so we can trace the past, present, and future of this magnificent aircraft.
Perhaps you can make this thread one that sticks so it can be added to?
Arriving at Ohakea with Al Marshall in a Nanchang to photograph the aircraft was quite exciting for both of us.
It was also the first time I had met Brendon although a load of emails had gone backwards and forwards to get to this day.
Was great to finally meet him.
Here is how the aircraft looked following the air 2 air flight, just stunning.
Our Nanchang parked alongside is a very capable aircraft and great as a camera platform.
We can get along at 140 knots which is ideal for an aircraft like the Spitfire.
It was a gloomy flight up to Ohakea and it wasn't looking that great for an Air 2 Air flight but little did we know of the conditions that we would fly in as the day got better and better.
Just had to get this shot of Al Marshall alongside the Spitifre.
Al and I spent a bit of time just admiring the aircraft.
Having Al Deere's initials on the aircraft really adds a personal touch to the aircraft.
Everything about the aircraft is immaculate.
Pilot on this Air 2 Air flight was Keith Skilling.
He had conducted all of the test flying to date.
When flying with a pilot like Keith, you always know that good photos will follow.
Below is a unique photo.
Three generations of Spitifire pilot, Keith Skilling, Austin Hayward, and Sean Perrett have time for a quick pic before we go flying.
Austin flew Spitfire's in North Africa during WW2. He had also been to inspect the aircraft once a month since restoration began so a keen follower indeed.
Keith has flown at least five different Spitfires and Sean would soon fly one for the first time.
Following a brief with Keith we were ready to go flying.
The weather was overcast with sun shining through in places so we were going to attempt to climb above the cloud for the photos and this was possible due to the ATC guys in the tower.
The shot below was taken from the Nanchang as Keith waited for take off clearance.
It wasn't long before we had lost sight of Keith.
He shot up through a hole in the cloud and as we did the same, we were a bit nervous knowing an aircraft was up their somewhere but Keith had positioned well clear of us.
We burst up into the sunlight and Keith raced up alongside.
I dont think I will ever see such a sight again.
The next few minutes were just amazing.
The cloud blanket below provided an ideal backdrop and we could see the mountains towering over the clouds at times.
We were flying at 3500 feet and due to a lot of traffic at Ohakea we had a small area to work in but Al Marshall lead the fighter well.
For me it was hard to not just sit their and marvel at the aircraft and the pilots skill.
I know that if I never took another photo, it wouldnt matter as those few minutes were very special due to Brendons ambitions and hard work to see this aircraft fly.
Keith is seen below shotly before shut down.
Brendon and Keith are seen together following the flight.
I cannot even begin to imagine how satisfying it would be for Brendon. Such a big dream, now reality.
While Keith and Sean were together knowledge was passed on and Sean started the engine and went through some ground handling drills.
We headed home with a very special set of photos.
I actually put the camera card in a water tight bag incase something went wrong on the way home.
The next time we would see the aircraft would be at Classic Fighters 2009.
John Lanham and Keith shared the flying and John flew the aircraft on the return flight to and from Ohakea.
Here are a few pictures from the weekend.
The aircraft was displayed very well and who will ever forget that display on late friday evening?
Brendon was presented with the Grand Champion Warbird trophy at the Classic Fighters dinner on the Sunday evening.
A fitting end to a great weekend.
I assumed the next time I would see the aircraft would be at the 2010 Wanaka airshow but a Spitfire flypast was to be flown at a parade at Woodbourne on July 1.
The parade would be attended by Prime Minister John Key, and the Queens colours would be presented as well.
Was fortunate enough to fly alongside the aircraft again following the fly past.
Boy it was cold that day but another great experience indeed.
Sean has not flown a lot of time in the Spitfire but he was great to photograph.
He was an RAF pilot who flew over 2000 hours on Harriers and spent three years with the Red Arrows and flew positions 3,5 and 9.
He is now a Squadron leader in the RNZAF, instructs on Kingairs as well as flying the Historic Flights Harvard at airshows.
Below are some photos from that day.
Below is the most talked about photo of the Spitfire I have taken to date.
Many have described it as similar to the memorable WW2 image that I think was taken by Charles Brown?
This was taken during the flight at Ohakea.
The question I have is how lucky are we to have people like Brendon restoring aircraft like this?
It is great to see.
One last note, the question was asked a while back regarding why this aircraft never carried kill marings and here is the answer from Brendon and a great way to end this post.
One thing I was going to mention to you was the answer as to why the Uncle did not have â€œkillâ€ markings on his aircraft â€“ the simple answer was he didnâ€™t think much of the practice.
He saw it as making too much â€œgloryâ€ of what was essentially an unpleasant but necessary task â€“ that is successfully destroying another aircraft/pilot. He had little time for those that followed that practice.