Tim Dews and Daniel Bennett put a wing back on one of the Grob motor gliders . PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

Practice flights to light up the sky

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendleage.co.nz

Masterton residents spotting mysterious lights above the town during the evenings this week should probably hold off raising the alarm about UFOs.

What they’re seeing is more than likely to be the British Airborne Pyrotechnics team practising their moves ahead of the Saturday night show at the Wings over Wairarapa Air Festival.

The team’s two Grob motor gliders were unpacked from their container and got their wings back on Saturday, after a three-month sea voyage.

The process took just a few minutes.

The British Airborne Pyrotechnics team in action. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Pilot Tim Dews and his son, Tom, will be airborne this week in the run-up to the weekend’s activities, and that includes flying at night using the LED lights on the planes, and wing-tip fireworks.

The planes have engines but are also able to fly as gliders.

That’s created some excitement back in the UK, Tim Dews said.

“There’ve been a few times coming back from shows when we’ve been gliding and we’ll turn the LEDs off on one plane, and then switch them from one plane to the other, so it looks like the same object has moved very fast from one place to another.

“Then we wait and see what UFO reports turn up in the media.”

The group’s air strip is about 6km from Warminster, what Dews says is the “UFO-spotting capital of England”.

A display without sound at nearby Pentillie Castle resulted in thousands of UFO “sightings”.

Saturday night’s show will be the first of its kind seen in New Zealand, though not for want of trying.

Dews was here two years ago when bad weather forced the cancellation of the event.

“We had done all the practice and then it poured down. Disappointed? You could say that – to come 12,000 miles and not do a show.

“You can’t get any further away on the planet.”

Dews came up with the idea of the pyrotechnic show after helping set up a display for a disabled pilot flying over London for the Olympics in 2015.

For his 50th birthday party, he attached pyrotechnics to his plane and did a display.

“It was just for a bit of fun, but someone filmed it.

“When I saw the video, I thought, ‘hang on, that looks fantastic’.”

The Wings over Wairarapa Air Festival 2019 runs from February 22-24.

Tickets are available from ticketdirect.co.nz