Red Thunder Warbirds at Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield, 2016

We are most privileged to have the honour of meeting, and hosting at our Retreat, a fabulous assortment of people from all walks of life.

Such was the case last week when Jeff and Michael stayed with us for 5 days whilst they took part in the annual RED THUNDER EVENT, 2016 – the Red Radial Squadron for ‘Exercise Red Thunder‘ from 11th to 15th May.

Red Thunder 2016
Red Thunder 2016

This group of pilots hold the five-day event annually to enhance their formation and general flying skills. This is a gathering of Warbirds — for those unaware of that term (I was until now 😉 ), Wikipedia helped me out —

“A warbird is any vintage military aircraft now operated by civilian organisations and individuals or, in some instances, by historic arms of military forces, such as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAAF Museum Historic Flight and the South African Air Force Museum Historic Flight.”

Restored warbirds are a frequent attraction at airshows.

Prior to Jeff’s reservation with us, I was unaware of this particular event, knowing only that Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield

Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield
Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield

was the place to see lots of extraordinary aviation activities, focusing on vintage aircraft, but as life frequently enforces, we had never experienced close up and personal any of these sights … until last week, that is!  Watts Bridge is only a handful of k’s from the Club Verdigris property, so we are in good proximity for the interstate pilots to stay with us – Jeff is from NSW.

Red Thunder - view from the air.
Red Thunder – view from the air.

Red Thunder featured many Eastern Bloc aircraft setting a Russian theme for both the flying and social activities, allowing spectators to see, and better still hear and feel the power of, 20 or so radial powered Yaks and Nanchangs. (Eastern Bloc aircraft refers to the former Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe). They even had Natasha events – encouraging female Komrades to participate. The finale was the POEHALI competition, named after Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space (12 April 1961).

Red Thunder - from a pilot's view
Red Thunder – from a pilot’s view

Well, I have always had a liking for things Russian, so it has been great to learn of these intricacies – and do look forward to future events, and the anticipation of hosting more pilots next year!

All in all, the formation of the 11 aircraft fly-by over our retreat on one of the days was an awesome experience!

Thanks to Jeff for sharing with us a few of his great in-flight shots 😉

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