The reason for this cannonball run? Well it was time to pick the kids up from my parents place and bring them home for school. The reason for the tight timeline? I wanted to spend a bit of time where I grew up before turning around for the 1100km (690mi) trip back home.
A few days before I left an email announcing an aircraft showcase (flying day) at the Temora Aviation Museum landed in my inbox. With the weather forecast looking to be pretty well perfect I decided to drive the extra 300km(190mi) round trip to Temora as they were planning on flying their fighter aircraft, some of which are the only airworthy examples in the world! And located right in the heart of sleepy, small town New South Wales. How about that for timing!!
The kids were keen to go and Dad has always had an interest in aircraft so there was no shortage of companions that could poke me with a stick to keep me from nodding off at the wheel.
We arrived to a glorious winter's day in Central West NSW with a temperature of about 15C (59F) and zero wind. Is was absolutely calm. Perfect flying weather.
First up was the CAC Boomerang, an aircraft rushed through development into production in the dark days of WWII when it looked like we were cut off and would be over run by the Japanese. As a fighter it was pretty third rate for the time and luckily we did not come to rely on it as a batch of P-40 Kittyhawks made it through from the US just in time. Still, it is a pleasure to watch an original example in action.
Next to fly was the Gloster Meteor. This was pretty much the Allies first operational jet fighter that entered service around July 1944. It is very impressive to see this immaculate example fly as the gentle whistle from it's two Rolls Royce Derwent engines sounds very low performance when compared to modern fighter jets. The "blue note" from it's cannon shell ejection ports, located under the nose, adds to the haunting melody.
The Cessna Dragonfly flew next. While the museum's aircraft are mostly types specific to Australian history, in that our Air Force operated them at one time or another, the Dragonfly was operated by the US Air force in Vietnam. It has phenomenal performance for a jet of it's size and age.
At the controls of this two seat aircraft were David Lowy, the museum's founder, champion aerobatic pilot and son of one of Australia's richest men. With him was ex RAAF pilot and now Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall (and apparently a top bloke according to the ex RAAF guys that I fly with). They threw the Dragonfly around the sky, trailing smoke which whipped into a vortex by the aircraft's wingtip vortices, hung in the still afternoon air forming bizarre shapes that had my kids marvelling at the smoke as much as the routine the aircraft was being put through.
Last to fly was my personal favourite, the Mk XVI Supermarine Spitfire. Unless you have been living under a rock since the 1920s this aircraft should need no introduction at all.
One of the most beautiful fighters ever to enter production, the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin growling past will bring a lump to your throat. Personally, I prefer the sound of the Mk VIII that the museum also owns, but it's engine is in the US for a rebuild, so the latter model Mk XVI with it's supercharged Merlin flew today. Very impressive and worth the trip to Temora on its own!
The kids had a great day out as well, enjoying the sun, the action and the hotdogs with tomato sauce.
Oh, and the reason for this museum being located way out here in central NSW? Well, Temora aerodrome was one of many Empire Air Training Scheme airfields where thousands of Allied pilots were trained during the war years.
The reason they chose Temora over the others? "Apparently", when the founders approached the councils operating the other former EATS fields they were giving a long list of demands and red tape to cut through. When they approached Temora Council they were thrown the keys to the aerodrome and told "there you go"! Not sure of the actual truth behind the story, but this is the one I choose to believe.
With the flying over it was time to head for home with my little sidekicks. An overnight effort saw us back in Brisbane for them to prepare for the return to school and me to work. Yay......
*Aerosexual- A derogatory term applied by professional pilots (who are strapped to an aircraft more than they deem healthy or necessary) to their colleagues that spend their spare time messing around with aircraft. Do fishermen go fishing in their spare time?
In my defense, my hobbies are mountain biking and motorcycling, but remember, we all got into flying because we loved aircraft........