The events in this post happened in mid-March.
There was only one big event left before the end of the New Zealand section. This was the annual Warbirds Open Day, held at Ardmore, with plenty of flying displays and ground exhibits. Planey’s presence had been requested on display in one of the hangars, along with some information boards all about the trip. I had been excited to oblige, it was always fun to talk about the flight! I arrived a little after seven to taxi Planey around to Hangar 4, and get the displays set up. Others were already at work in the hangar, setting up a record-breaking motorcycle as well as an aircraft from the Ardmore Aero Club, and various radio control modelers.
The round-the-world display
People started to show up in dribs and drabs a little while before the official opening time. A couple of the earliest visitors were police officers on airport duty, and we chatted for quite a while about the adventure before they moved on. More and more people started to stop by and talk, and look over the display that I’d put together; big posters showing the map of the trip, some of the key information, and most of the required tools and equipment laid out on a table.
Inspection by the long arm of the law
There were a wide range of historic military aircraft on show, all of them still flying. Apparently, this was one of the best turn-outs they’d had in years. One highlight was a Grumman TBM-3E Avenger torpedo bomber, which sadly met with some bad luck on arrival; a cylinder cracked and as it taxied in, gallons of oil poured onto the tarmac. It looked like the poor old Dauntless would not be going anywhere for a while, but at least it had made it in safely!
Radio control boat club
In the afternoon, I took a break from manning the Planey display, and went for a walk around the rest of the show. There were all kinds of exhibits and displays, centered of course around aviation but also classic cars and muscle cars, old military vehicles, and more. Back at the 182, plenty of people were still coming by to chat, including an oceanic controller from Auckland control! Marnie was kind enough to invite me over to visit the control center before I left on the final leg of the trip, and introduce me to the controllers. I eagerly accepted in advance!
The Ardmore-based DC3
"Plonky" the Grumman TBM-3E Avenger
Isaac's Fury II
WW2 vehicle display
Final Harvard display
Meeting the oceanic controller!
The event wound down, and I took Planey back over to parking at Hangar 2. A drink in the Warbirds bar finished off a great day at Ardmore!
The final day in New Zealand was spent having a final sort-out of the aircraft. I got together a box full of extra items that could be sent back to home base, as well as the spare engine cylinder that was a leftover of the engine rebuild in Australia. Oceania aviation were good enough to help out again with a couple of spare boxes and packing supplies, and even sent me on my way with a couple of key-rings. I was already looking forward to stopping in and seeing them again on my return to New Zealand! For now, it was time for a long airline flight, and a long lock-down thanks to the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. When the flight could restart was anybody’s guess.
Hours so far: 273
Distance so far: 35,735 miles (57,510 km)
Countries so far: 30
Airports so far: 115