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The Air Force at GEON Art Deco weekend

The RNZAF Red Checkers display team over at the GEON Art Deco weekend, Napier.

The theme of the 2012 Art Deco weekend at Napier was 75 years of the RNZAF. Although the RNZAF was not yet formed in 1931, its ancestor — the NZ Permanent Air Force — played a key part in relief operations after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.

The RNZAF took a full part in this year’s celebration and commemoration, including three displays by the Red Checkers and a No.3 Squadron Iroquois, open days at the Hawke’s Bay Airport and an RNZAF-sponsored Officers Mess dinner, accompanied by the RNZAF Band. As well, the Chief of Air Force and his party were guests at the major events of the weekend, while the Central Band of the RNZF toured through Hawke’s Bay.

GEON Art Deco Weekend serves to celebrate the rebuilding of Napier and Hastings in the art deco style of the Thirties. Fortunately many of those building remain in use, with their distinctive styling accentuated by sympathetic paint schemes. The celebration serves as a reason for most in the city to don period costume, while vintage and classic cars from across the country roll into town for a wonderful parade. But the cities have not forgotten the earthquake’s toll; at the VERONICA Bell Ceremony the Last Post was sounded and participants stood in silence to remember those who died. 
 
With this year’s Air Force theme, the airport was busy. As well as the RNZAF units, a classic DH Dragon Rapide airliner, the Harvards of the civilian ‘Roaring Forties’ aerobatic team and two Warbird fighters took part, along with a number of Tiger Moths. No. 13 Squadron (City of Napier) ATC ran the parking and assisted the Napier Aero Club for the weekend; flights took place all weekend, resulting in the Dragon Rapide and Tiger Moths constantly overhead, and the aerobatic displays were viewed by thousands.

The warmth of the people of Napier towards the Defence Force was evident—spontaneous applause broke out after each display by the Red Checkers, and those in uniform were welcomed everywhere.

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