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Warbirds 2006

Entry 313, on 2006-04-21 at 12:14:42 (Rating 1, Activities)

I've had a break from blogging for a week while I was away for a holiday in Central Otago. The main reason for this visit was to go to the Warbirds Over Wanaka 2006 Air Show, held on Easter weekend, and to have a look around the Queenstown, Wanaka, and Arrowtown area.

The air show was really worth going to, as it always is. While there is a certain amount of repetition from previous shows (which are held every two years), there is always something new to see, and for an aircraft enthusiast (as I am, in a small way) it is an essential event.

The major new attraction for this show as a visit by an F-111 from the Australian Air Force. This was easily the most impressive modern fighter ever displayed at Wanaka. For me, the Hawker Hunter was also a highlight, because I have always admired this example of early jet technology - its a particularly impressive and good looking aircraft, considering its age.

The F-111 was truly awesome though. It arrived unannounced and flew down the runway at high speed. One moment it was flying past totally silently, the next the sound hit you as it caught up with the speed of the fighter. As the commentator said: by the time you hear it, its too late! You could tell the Aussie commentator really loved this aircraft (and who wouldn't), which he referred to as the "old girl". The F-111 is fairly old - it was designed in the 60s and retired from the USAF in 1996. Standing next to the runway just a few 10s of meters away was fairly intense! You don't want to be there if you don't like lots of noise!

Its most impressive trick is the dump and burn maneuver, where it dumps fuel from a pipe near the tail and ignites it with the after-burners. A sheet of flame about 20 meters long streams out the back as it flies along! We didn't see the F-111 land because Wanaka airport isn't really up to standard for that type of aircraft, and we didn't see it flying anywhere near its top speed of Mach 2.5 (about 3000 km/h) because the sonic boom might be a bit destructive, but the display was still really cool.

Here's some interesting stats about the F-111 (I hope I've got them right because this is just from memory). When cruising it uses enough fuel to empty a large car's fuel tank in 4 seconds. Each engine has more power than the entire starting grid of a Formula 1 race, and it has two engines! And its the fastest operational fighter in the world (newer fighters have concentrated on maneuverability and stealth at the expense of speed).

Some people didn't like some of the jets because they were too noisy! That's like saying I don't like going to rock concerts because of the noise. Noise is what its all about. I hope Wanaka can continue to show more modern jets as well as classic piston aircraft, like the Spitfire and Mustang, because I just love them and I would go to the next show just to see the F-111 again!

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Comment 1 (193) by SK on 2006-04-28 at 22:20:20:

Oh man, check out that flame! That's awesome, dude.

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