Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Yesterday, every man and his dog seemed to gather around the circumference of the Norfolk Island International Airport.

They were there to see the arrival of the Australian Airforce Globemaster C17. But they were also there to catch a glimpse of the cargo - the brand new high-tech "designer" fire engines which have been purchased from Germany.

I suppose when more than 3 million dollars is expended in buying two fire engines, training people to use them, transporting them to the island, and housing them, everyone has a right to feel they are "stakeholders!" And it is certainly a lot of money for something we all hope will never be used!
After much waiting and peering into the sky to the west, the cry finally went out "Here it comes", and out came the binoculars and cameras.

The big bird was amazingly quiet, and landed on just a short length of runway. There was a holding of breath - and I suspect even an emotional tear or two, as the back flap came down. Behind, you can see the site of the new "garage" that will be built to house the big beasts! It has been all hands on deck to get this underway, but alas, it will be tarpaulins to protect the new "toys."
Finally the first of the engines rolled own the ramp onto the tarmac. It was history in the making.

Three of the old fire engines came out to form a sort of "guard of honour." No doubt some of these will now be well and truly pensioned off, and I am told are even destined to become museum pieces!

As we started back to our cars, thinking the excitement was all over, the new engine did a celebratory lap of the airfield close to the fence, sirens blaring!

The Globemaster, whose engines had been kept running, then reversed back down the runway, and in no time at all, was back in the air.
The Globemaster has a massive interior - but unfortunately just a bit too small to bring both engines on one trip. The plane returned that evening with the second one, and was able to Medivac an injured local boy back to the mainland.

Now do you know the question that is on everyone's lips?

What about Santa Claus?" You see, Santa has always arrived on Norfolk Island on the back of one of the big old red fire engines. Will he be allowed a place of honour on one of the flash new models? Will he even want to ride on something that is bright green and yellow, and not the familiar old Christmas red?

1 comment:

Hobbits Hollow said...

Fantastic Photos Mary! What an amazing experience; it must have been an incredible sight to see such a big aircraft stop so quickly and quietly on the Norfolk Runway.

Thanks for sharing this with us all, we feel like we were there too.

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