Kapi-Mana News : January 24th 2012
11 KAPI-MANA NEWS, JANUARY 24, 2012 FEATURE "Summer Swimming" "Summer Swimming" Monday to Friday 5.30am to 9pm • Saturday and Sunday 8am to 7pm • Public Holidays 8am to 7pm • 17 Parumoana Street Ph 237 1521 www.terauparaha-arena.co.nz • Hydroslide • Spa Pools • Steam Room • Sauna • Authentic flashing lighthouse with fountains • Safe area for toddlers • New Sauna • Bubbles galore • Inflatables Hours Hours 4271978AA Better Lessons Better Skills Better Check It Out! Cannons Creek Pool, Bedford St, Cannons Creek, Porirua. firstname.lastname@example.org or ph 04 237 1518 There is no better place to learn to swim locally than at Dash. Our term starts 30th January for all ages and grades, check us out now and join up! Better swimming starts at Dash Swim School www.dashswimschool.co.nz 4300696AB FROM Page 10 Air time: The Vintage Aviator's test pilot and production manager Gene Demarco at the controls of a WWI Sopwith Camel over Wairarapa. Photo: PHILIP MAKANNA/GHOSTS He became involved with the famous Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome on New York's Hudson River, where he got his first experience with old World War I aeroplanes. It took four or five years before Demarco was allowed to fly one of their Golden Era (1920s and 1930s) planes and a couple of years after that before he got to fly a genuine World War I fighter -- the Sopwith Camel. During his time at the Old Rhinebeck he would fly these planes almost every weekend and logged many flying hours. Because each aircraft's design varies, their mechanics and flying characteristics are all unique with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. There's a huge difference from modern planes and you really have to be around them to learn about them,'' he says. Some early aircraft don't have throttles, or brakes or even ailerons so they are notoriously tricky to operate. As he flew more and more dif- ferent types of aircraft, oppor- tunities kept presenting them- selves and Demarco was sought for more and more flying duties. His vast experience in the Sopwith Camel meant he was in demand to come to New Zealand and fly a plane for Sir Peter Jackson's King Kong movie. Sir Peter has long been an enthusiast of early aircraft and he is one of The Vintage Aviator's biggest customers and supporters. A significant part of the company's work is in the movie business, creating props and replica vehicles. As production manager at Vintage Aviator, Demarco over- sees the completion of some important projects. The 50-person team based in Wellington and Wairarapa builds aircraft exactly as they were con- structed back in the early 20th century. They use original parts where they can and will even reverse- engineer entire engines so that the complete aircraft is 100 per cent authentic, which gives The Vintage Aviator the edge in the industry. New Zealand may seem like a strange place to base such a specialist enterprise, particularly when the major aeroplane collec- tions are in Europe and the United States, but Demarco says this country has some big advantages, not least of which is our wealth of engineering talent and staff with the right attitude. The whole thing about Kiwis being able to think outside of the box is true. It's phenomenal what the guys are accomplishing in the short time that we've been around,'' he says. Right now the Vintage Aviator has more than 50 aircraft in its collection. Half of those are at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome and the other half are at Omaka Aviation Heritage centre. With around 20,000 man hours going into the construction of each aircraft, they are extremely valu- able items. By putting on regular airshows at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome The Vintage Aviator brings mili- tary history back to life. With customers all around the world they are exporting unique and valuable technology that will be around for generations to come. Being a test pilot of these early and unpredictable aircraft may sound like a dangerous business, but Demarco does everything he can to avoid potentially fatal mishaps. The testing programme is very controlled and the aircraft are never pushed beyond their limits. Demarco has an intimate know- ledge of how the aircraft are put together and has complete faith in those responsible for constructing the planes. But even with the most careful preparation the occasional crash does happen. While flying for Old Rhinebeck in the United States his engine had a magneto failure, lost power and Demarco knew he wouldn't be able to make the airfield. He says it is a really discon- certing feeling'' knowing that you are going to crash and contemplat- ing whether you are going to get hurt. He ended up slamming into trees before the airfield. The plane was caught in the high branches and then fell around 15 to 20 metres to the forest floor. Demarco escaped with only scrapes and went back to the air- field to get in another plane and complete the airshow. Demarco has had three of four engine failures in his career, but thankfully he has been able to walk away from them all. I find it hard to believe that kids went to war in these airplanes,'' he says.
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