Todays itinerary had been organised by Geoff Cole with not only a visit to the Air Force museum at the old Wigram air base but a behind the scenes visit arranged through his brother in law who works in the aircraft restoration section. These guys are restoring aircraft from sometimes just rusty old frames with a few bits and pieces to work with. Sometimes donors who might have had something stashed away in the back of the shed send it in to them. Under restoration are an Airspeed Oxford, a Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk and a Vickers Vildebeest for which they have very little to work with but they do have some blue prints.
In the No2 hangar there are more treasures to behold from a Catalina Flying Boat that was being restored by a private consortium but it was never completed so was donated the the museum to add to their ever increasing under funded restoration programme.To complete the scene was one of 2 wooden hulled launches that were used to shuttle passengers and freight to and from the aircraft. Along with this are a BAC 167 Strikemaster, Westland Wasp helicopter, Bristol Freighter loaded with a Mk1 Land Rover. A De Havilland Gipsy Queen, De Havilland Vampire T11, Kaman Seasprite 2F helicopter and a Hawker Siddeley Mk1 Andover rigged out for both passenger and parachute training.
In the Main Entrance were a Strikemaster Jet, a Tiger Moth, and a copy of Bleriot’s first plane. Passing into the main display area were more treats in the shape of a DC3, Lockheed Hudson MkIII, a Harvard for which Wigram was famous as a flight training centre with these aircraft as the mainstay. An Avro Anson, an Aerospace Airtrainer CT48, English Electric Canberra bomber, an Iroquois helicopter, Grumman TBF 1 Avenger, P-51D Mustang, De Havilland Beaver, Auster as well as the all famous Spitfire and Hurricane. There are more, too many to list but the museum is something special and a must to visit.
After about 3 hours in the museum we headed off out to Pauline’s sisters where her husband Bill was only too happy to show us through his Railway Room.
Bill model’s On9 using American models which closely resemble NZ railways rolling stock. We had a good running session as Bill is unable due to illness causing him to lose some of his sight.
After a very late lunch we drove into the City centre to see for ourselves the destruction caused by the earthquakes. It was a sobering time to see how much damage had been done and how much work has been completed or yet to be done. Around the Red Zone of the city it was like a ghost town with even shops on the periphery still empty unable to re-open until the buildings are deemed safe.