2003 marks the centenary of flight; 100 years since the Wright brothers of Ohio achieved sustained and controlled flight in an aeroplane. The Whittakers’ Wings over Wairarapa Air show on 25-26 January has been the first major air show of this centenary year, featuring a range of aircraft from an original Bleriot monoplane of the pioneering era, fighters of the Second World War, and helicopters and jet aircraft of today.
As spectators at Whittaker’s Wings over Wairarapa watched the low-level flight of the fragile 1908 Bleriot monoplane, they shared the vision and wonder of the aeronautical pioneers a century ago. The industrial revolution of the 19th Century, founded on iron, coal and steam power, transformed engineering and construction around the world. But men of many countries dreamed of building light, powerful engines and powering aircraft into the air. By the time the 20th Century opened, petrol engines, steel, and new light materials meant that manned flight seemed possible.