Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rare bird recalls wartime flights: The only flying Anson in the world


 The sound of veteran aeroplane engines was heard all day at the Bombers and Biplanes fundraiser at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on Saturday. 

 The 350 aviation enthusiasts at the show were treated to aerial displays from rare World War I and II vintage aircraft, the most anticipated being the Anson Mk 1 twin-engined bomber.

The Anson was restored to its original condition by Nelson couple Bill and Robyn Reid.

Mrs Reid was delighted to share the aircraft with other aviators after 10 years of restoration work.

"There were times that we thought we were never going to finish it, so it's wonderful to see it finished and somewhere where everyone can enjoy it," said Mrs Reid.

The Anson is believed to be the only one in flying condition in the world, and will be on show at the Wings over Wairarapa airshow in Masterton in January and the Omaka Classic Fighters airshow in Blenheim in April, she said.

John Sandilands of Blenheim, a former flight technician for the Royal Airforce from 1943 to 1949, recalls many missions in Ansons shortly after World War II ended.

One of the most memorable was flying the "top brass" from the Royal Navy above the Oslofjord in Norway, identifying the surrendered German naval ships.

"It's very interesting to see one back in its full colours," he said.

"It looks just like it used to, only much shinier and much cleaner."

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre trustee Graham Orphan said thousands of the Ansons were built between 1935 and 1952.

The Reids' Anson, built in Britain, was one of about 100 sent to Australia and used as an intermediate training plane by the Royal Australian Airforce during World War II, he said.

It was sold and fitted out as a passenger and freight plane in 1953, later being used in a movie about the MacRobertson Air Race.

The Reids began shipping it in pieces to New Zealand in 2002.

Mr Orphan said it was a dream come true to see an Anson in the air.

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