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May 2016 -  The huge new Motat display hanger extension is complete, along with an impressive upgrade of the existing large hanger display area. The Motat aviation collection is an international class display of exceptional aircraft. For more information on opening hours see Motat's main website at motat.org.nz

Thanks go to Ron Wilson for pointing out the following anniversary: "50 years ago today (Saturday 7 May 1966) the Solent ZK-AMO was towed across the harbour from Hobsonville to Meola Creek. I gather things didn't go completely to plan because it was left on the mudflats overnight before it was hauled out next day. Then it was towed down the Reef, across Meola Rd and up the slope and successfully positioned near the school boundary,facing out to the harbour. It was the first exhibit to occupy the new site which was a bare open patch of clay with the rubbish tip still in full operation at the other side of the property. The Solent stood alone there over that winter and defied the vandal and arson attacks until it was joined by the Sunderland in the following February. It had to wait outside for a further twenty five years until financial support could be rallied to build Stage II of the first aviation display hall. Fast forward another twenty five years to today and the Solent takes pride of place in the new display hall. But there is still unfinished business. An extensive restoration program was commenced and the Museum is still fund raising the substantial amount to complete it. Along with the Sunderland these projects are the priorities for the budget and workforce at present and are examples of the long term commitment that is required when a large exhibit is acquired."

Three new aircraft are on display having recently been placed on permanent loan to Motat by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. First to arrive, after some time in Motat storage, was the De Havilland Devon NZ1813, which is in excellent condition and complements the many other De Havilland types already in the collection. The next two were high performance aircraft, the Aermacchi jet trainer and Douglas A4 Skyhawk fighter.

The wonderful restoration of the Grumman Avenger is now complete following an extensive long term restoration project. The aircraft is currently just inside the back doors, but may eventually take it's place in the Fleet Air Arm display area at the front of the main display hanger. The hydraulic system of this WWII carrier aircraft is operational, allowing display of the bomb doors and folding wings.

Work continues the large Sunderland flying boat While a large number of items have been restored over the last few years including under wing bomb doors and bomb racks, and cockpit glazing, the main aircraft exterior requires completion before moving into the display hanger. Both wings are now completely finished and work will quickly progress now to finishing the rear of the main fuselage.

Now that the Avenger restoration is complete and several other aircraft such as the Magister have been moved to the display hall, the Lodestar has been moved into the Belfast Hanger. This is the aircraft's first time indoors for forty five years! The first steps of assessing the extensive work required on this historic aircraft are just beginning. Due to the length of time outside, combined with its final role as a top dressing aircraft, the aircraft has significant corrosion to be repaired. This will be a very long term project.

Another recent development was the addition of nose art and new serial number to the port side of the Lancaster. Its port side paintwork now represents Lancaster NE181 JN-M "The Captain's Fancy" which served with 75 (New Zealand) squadron and completed over 100 bombing missions in Europe during WWII. A replica grand slam 22,000lb bomb is also now on display, along with a documentary film about New Zealanders serving with Bomber Command.

Photos
- Overview of the new aviation display hanger (Richard Wesley)
- Aermacchi  jet trainer (Motat Facebook Page)
- Avenger under wraps in Belfast Hanger (Richard Wesley)
- Sunderland port wing undergoing repainting (Richard Wesley)
- Lodestar indoors for first time in 45 years (Richard Wesley)
- Lancaster's new nose art (Richard Wesley)