|Restored Anson - only flying example in the world!||Classic Jets Vampire and Skymaster|
|FW190 German WW2 fighter held air superiority for a time||Gaggle of WW1 aircraft take to the sky!! You can't see this anywhere else!|
|A modern Fokker demonstrating amazing STOL ability||Ground displays are nothing short of amazing. A Tiger Tank!!|
|Can't have an airshow without a Spitfire can one!||1930's Staggerwing|
|Proof NZ does have an airforce! Very talented chopper pilots||Dawn patrol line up|
|On one occasion in September
1918, Keith's quick thinking and resourceful nature saved him from
certain death. Whilst on a patrol, another S.E.5a struck his
aircraft, catastrophically damaging his wing struts and altering the
aircraft's aerodynamics. Instantly his fighter plummeted 1000 feet
and went into a flat spin. Keith knew he was doomed if he didn't
attempt something radical. So he stepped his left leg out onto the
port wing, and grabbed hold of the strut with his left hand.
Attempting to balance the aircraft by changing the centre of
gravity, Keith continued to try to fly the aircraft with his right
hand on the joystick.
With only 500 feet of altitude left he realised it was hopeless, but this activity had allowed him to guide the aircraft away from enemy territory and over the British lines. Just as the plane was about to impact with the ground Keith jumped, clearing the wreck and getting up to find he'd landed in front of a British infantry dugout. Astonished soldiers saw him get up, dust himself off and walk towards them as if nothing had happened. Escaping the flat spin, guiding the plane away from enemy lines and then jumping clear at the last minute and walking away from the crash is nothing short of a miracle.
Like all amazing tales of heroism such as this, there are different versions. The above was related from a June 1945 article by H.H. Russell in Contact. But the book By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson records the altitudes slightly differently, stating:
"WWI history records that: "in Sep 1918 when attacking German aircraft over the Cambrai sector a member of his formation collided with him buckling his starboard upper wing and forcing him into a dive. After his aircraft had lost about 2000 feet of height the dive gradually developed into a right-handed semi-flat spin. At about 5000 feet Caldwell climbed out of his cockpit, placed his left foot on the lower port mainplane and, grasping the port centre strut with his left hand endeavoured to balance his aircraft, flying it with his right hand and foot. Displaying skill and resource of the highest order he succeeded in guiding his crippled aircraft so that it just cleared the front line trenches and, just as it was about to crash, he jumped off and turned a few somersaults on the ground. He then stood up, brushed himself off and walked to the nearest trench asking to use the telephone."
Regardless of the discrepancies of height, it was an incredible feat of quick thinking, courage and sheer will, and has to count as one of the most amazing last minute escapes from a crashing aircraft there ever was. The event has been depicted faithfully in the Aviation Heritage Centre at Omaka, Blenheim, New Zealand. This incredible museum has displayed a full sized replica SE5a with a dummy of Keith Caldwell above a trench, poised to step off seconds before impact.
|Even More Restoration At
Omaka: Aircraft restoration is not the only re-building that is
going to be happening at Omaka in the coming years. The Garrison
Society Inc (established in 2012) is Marlborough's largest Home
Front & Military Historical Preservation group. With members from
all over New Zealand and as far afield as Australia, Omaka is now
becoming the focal point for a dedicated building and site
restoration team. The Garrison are now the Custodians of a number of
surviving buildings from RNZAF Station Omaka which was in use from
1941-1944 (these buildings were later used by the local Air Training
Corps cadet unit for many years). The site is to be restored to its
former glory and will become New Zealand's only working WWII
Military Camp. The group has a lot of work ahead of them to make the
dream a reality, and they need to raise funds and garner support to
ache ive this significant goal.
The Camp will house a museum wing, operational communications room, workshop, library and research facility, formal functions lounge, period offices and a kitchen. The grounds will be home to military huts, replica shelters, guard house, memorial area and parade ground. Events and shows will be able to be held on the grounds and areas for pitching tents and parking vehicles will be made part of the camp layout. The groups goal is to make a living history experience like no other in New Zealand, and as well as becoming the National Head Quarters for the steadily growing Society, and it will also be made available as a valuable resource in the event of a local civil emergency.