Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Omaka Heritage Aviation Centre – Stepping Back in Time

The aerodrome at Omaka on the outskirts of Blenheim, the largest wine growing region in New Zealand and famous for its Sauvignon Blanc variety, has as its next door neighbour the Heritage Aviation Centre. This fantastic museum was, to quote from their website,  “established to provide a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft.”

A visit to this exhibition of World War 1 vintage fighter aircraft and memorabilia requires at lease several hours. Although the displays are static, many of the exhibition pieces are set in dioramas that show the aircraft in context which makes for a thoroughly memorable experience. Oddly, on the grassy area outside the exhibition building there are several WW2 aircraft on display, but future plans for the museum are to include a similar exhibition of that vintage also.

Omaka, Blenheim, South Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

This quote from the of the Centre’s website describes the exhibition much better than I can. “Omaka’s first exhibition, “Knights of the Sky”, occupies some 3,000 sqm of purpose-built display area. It comprises one of the world’s largest collections of World War 1 aircraft and rare memorabilia, including a mix of dramatically staged static displays along with flyable planes.

The collection is managed by the 14-18 Aviation Heritage Trust, which is chaired by film director Peter Jackson, and has been brought to life in a series of theatrical dioramas constructed with the artistic talent and technical expertise of some of New Zealand’s most talented storytellers.

The extensive dioramas take you back to a time long gone and almost forgotten when the harshness and cruelty of the war in the trenches contrasted with the chivalry and bravado of the war in the air. When SE5as and Fokker Triplanes went head to head; the steeds of these latter day knights of the air jousting for survival.”

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The images in this slideshow were taken during a three hour visit to the museum. All indoor images were taken without flash at ISO 6400 and f4. The outdoor images are of other aircraft that have been or are in the process of restoration at the commercial aircraft restoration facilities next door to the museum that form part of the Marlborough Aviation Cluster.


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