Planes of First World War: Anything to do with Planes and Jets: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

© irene waters 2020

The Aircraft Museum near Blenheim on the South Island of New Zealand is well worth a visit. We only had time to do one war and we chose to do World War 1. It was well set out and displayed planes that looked so ancient it brought home just how brave these pilots were.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

The displays included scenes from the day and inside the workshops that repaired the damaged planes that had managed to limp home. In WWI, unlike the German pilots, British pilots weren’t issued with parachutes. The rationale of the British Government was that the pilots may not be quite as focused on carrying out the task at hand and might bale earlier, ditching expensive aircraft that potentially could limp home. It took them some time to realise that trained fighter pilots were a more valuable commodity than the plane. Once they realised this parachutes became standard issue.

© irene waters 2020

The US Navy had 22 Curtiss MF Flying Boat delivered before the contract was terminated due to Armistice in 1918. However, it was found to be an excellent trainer so 80 more were ordered. It was later used as a rum running plane during prohibition and in the filming of the Amazon in the Alexander Hamilton Rice Expedition 1919-20. This is one of only four known to exist in the world.

© irene waters 2020

A piece of flash fiction written in 2018 in response to the story that went with this plane.

The night before the mission Squadron 74 threw back their beers and cuddled their girls They knew there would be empty seats and some broken-hearts the following night. 

1100 hours the bugle sounded.  A quick briefing. No longer carefree, they ran to their planes. Commander Keith ‘Grid’ Caldwell headed out with his men. “On your bikes, chaps” he ordered. 

The formation crossed the line at 1330 hrs. Soon they ferreted out some enemy planes. Bratatattat. Bratatattat. Sparks flew from the machine guns. Grid, in his element, attacked, then spiralled, righting his plane to appear from nowhere shooting the German out of the sky. He dipped away. His plane shuddered. He had collided with one of his own at 7000 feet. The plane with it damaged wing spun downward another 2000 feet. Without a parachute Grid had a choice of death. He decided to jump. He leant out over the wing and the plane steadied, flattening out. Holding the right rudder with his left foot he kept his weight on the wing and managed to fly his crippled aircraft to safety.

In the WWI exhibit I learnt about this NZ pilot who had a narrow escape and was one of the few pilots to survive WWI where the average lifespan of these young men was two weeks from commencing flying missions. Grid went on to become a Air Commodore in WWII. He gained the nickname Grid as it is NZ for bicycle and this is what he called the planes.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

No record of planes in WW1 would be complete without the Red Baron, Capt Von Richthofen who shot down 80 aircraft in his wood and fabric plane. He was shot down by Capt Brown – an Australian. The looting of the downed plane was immense with people taking trophies back to memorialise the day, with pieces being found in Darwin.

If you are ever in Blenheim, make sure you take a trip out to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre – it is well worth a visit.

Thanks to Cee for the prompt for this weeks Fun Foto Challenge

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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10 Responses to Planes of First World War: Anything to do with Planes and Jets: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    These are wonderful photos for this week. Thanks for playing Irene 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TanGental says:

    Love a good WW1 plane. My granfather survived 3 years as a pilot flying reconnaissance and spy missions. Quite the scariest time

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Anything to do with trains and railroads – Cee's Photo Challenges

  4. Cee Neuner says:

    Congratulations! I have selected your post to be featured on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.
    https://ceenphotography.com/2020/07/28/cffc-anything-to-do-with-trains-and-railroads/
    I sure hope you have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. M.B. Henry says:

    WWI is one of my favorite eras of aviation to study. Looks like a wonderful place to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

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