Of the fifty-five landings the Bazflyers made while flying round the world in their Comanche ZK-BAZ, the penultimate touchdown occurred at midday the 19th October on home base Taupo Airport, New Zealand. It was definitely not one of the prettiest arrivals. Showers and gusting cross-wind conditions for landing on Runway 35 weren’t altogether helpful, but be it intuitive control inputs or a modicum of good fortune or a cocktail of both, the final touchdown turned out to be remarkably smooth.
As the wheels rolled to a stop outside the Taupo Aero Club the simple act of pulling out a red knobbed control shut-off fuel to the engine, an engine that had stoically powered the Bazflyer’s trusty Comanche round the world and with that the 3-bladed propellor came to a halt. The ensuing silence was spontaneously replaced by an applauding assembly of family and friends. This was it, the end. Check…magnetos and switches off…exit the ‘BAZ Office’ then join familiar faces in celebrating an amazing journey.
A week or more has since passed. Travel accoutrements have been returned to their usual storage places. The trusty Comanche, throughly inspected, serviced and gleaming in its hangar is poised for action. Viewed from the outside it could be construed that Bazflyer life has resumed its familiar purpose..but has it?
How is one supposed to feel after flying round the world in a small airplane? This question, phrased in a variety of ways, has been a reoccurring inquiry since the Bazflyer’s arrival back at home base as well as an ongoing subject of self examination. Certainly the joy of achievement gives a special type of happiness. There is a feeling in getting something done, getting to the end of a process. A healthy sense of pride might be another way to describe it.
However, there is more, much more to the Bazflyer’s successful journey round the world than simply a series of flights. While not wanting to undermine the physical flying involved, the ultimate big-picture achievement owes much to a palette of creative factors. Planning, program management and personal health to mention just a few. Then there’s the overarching interpersonal relationships along the way. Ever changing and often communicating across different languages. People supplying fuel. Officials at international boarders. Handling agents and many helpful friendly folk.
From beginning to end, the ‘Ambassadors of Friendship’ journey consumed 217 sky-hours of time in the Baz Office. Were there any scary moments? No, not one. Not even a drama or two. What about highlights…what were the best bits? There were many of these, however, for the Bazflyers nothing surpasses the friendly aviation folk they were privileged to meet. Professionals, enthusiasts and admirers. People of many cultures, young and old, all bonded by a common language called ‘aviation’…!
What started out as a journey with a goal, so wonderfully ended as an epic achievement beautifully framed in gilded creativity. An achievement that was more a feeling of action, than completion. Like a piece of creative fine art, this Bazflyer achievement will forever proudly stand on its own as a beautiful and joyful journey.
These former Air Force mates were ‘on duty’ at Kerikeri (NZKK) to welcome the Bazflyers back on NewZealand soil.
Comanche ZK-BAZ taxis to a stop at the Taupō Aero Club
Stepping out of the ‘Baz Office’ to hugs all round
Celebrating and obligatory speeches
Waiting for the occasion was the ‘Bronze Lindy’ award from Oshkosh
View from the Baz Base, Taupo Airport (NZAP), New Zealand