On Sunday afternoon I stood in a bright orange vest in a parched paddock as passing vehicles kicked up clouds of swirling dust, as they slowly departed one by one. I was a first-time volunteer at Classic Fighters 2015.
I've heard of some people questioning why anyone would want to hold an event celebrating killing machines, and reenacting events from wars where huge numbers of people endured horrendous suffering or death. They have a valid point, but perhaps if they had attended Classic Fighters, they would have understood.
Apart from military equipment, there is something that both wars and an event like Classic Fighters have in common.
Sadly in war, teamwork and volunteers are put to work in such a way that opposing sides inflict death, destruction and suffering on each other.
In the case of Classic Fighters though, the teamwork and volunteer effort was to ensure exactly the opposite, public safety, order, and an outstanding enjoyable event for the whole family. People from all walks of life came together, both volunteers, professionals, locals and people from outside Marlborough to put on a spectacular event showcasing aviation history.
Exchanging my volunteer role for spectator on Saturday, I went with my family, and my three year old daughter, properly catered for with food, drink, and a buggy to rest when her legs got tired thoroughly enjoyed herself and coped with the entire day, with her only complaint being due to us not paying for her to do all the activities she was keen to try.
Although most of the aircraft on display were military aircraft, the enormous advances in aviation technology that occured during the two world wars led to progress that opened up civil aviation and made air travel a reality for the general public. Without a doubt, it would have been better if such progress could have been made without being driven by military requirements, but nevertheless it is worth commemorating the advances in technology that have led to modern air travel being a generally safe, reliable form of transport, particularly in a geographically isolated region like Marlborough.
Driving away at the end of the show after exchanging my orange vest for a cold beer, to be responsibly drunk after I got home, I reflected on the spectacular event that had just come to a close. Perhaps the magic of the show could be summed up in Omaka's specialty, World War I and pre-war aircraft, from when humanity was just beginning to learn how to defy gravity. Against all odds, daring folk attempted to keep going higher, faster and further, pushing technology to its limits. That pioneering spirit never loses relevance, today or in the future as individually, collectively as a community, as a nation, or as humanity, we face up to and solve new challenges.
Well done Marlborough!