While we were in Blenheim for probably the last reunion of the RNZAF Boy Entrant School, 12 Course, we were able to visit Peter Jackson’s Aviation Heritage Museum at Omaka. Wonderful exhibits, and I was particularly impressed with the one that dealt with Russian women pilots of the Second World War. They were dubbed the Night Witches by the Nazis. I think the picture that I have taken shows Lydia Litvyak, but would be open to correction on that.
One of the exhibits should have come with a warning for anyone with a weak heart – you entered a sealed-off room which seemed to be the bottom of a bombed-out brick building, and with film projecting onto the walls above. Totally realistic burning buildings everywhere, and constant flak and bombing. Towards the end of the action an aircraft was shot down and came straight at the audience before crashing into what seemed to be the brick wall of our building, and everything ending in a huge fireball. Couldn’t wait to get out of there. It’s appalling to think this is what children around the world are still facing every day