The roar of the twin Rolls-Royce engines powering the only flying de Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber in the world revived old memories for 92-year-old Whangarei rest home resident Ben Smith.
He was among the hundreds of people who were at the Whangarei Airport on Saturday to see the rare aircraft, restored at Ardmore over the past eight years.
During World War II, Mr Smith was in a New Zealand Army forestry corps team in Britain which cut oaks and elm trees used to make the aircraft, nicknamed the Wooden Wonder as it was one of the fastest operational aircraft in the world when it became widely used in 1942.
One of his four sons, Kamo refrigeration and electrical engineer Peter Smith, said his father had been excited and full of wartime tales after seeing the Mosquito.
Also at the airport was Avspecs Ltd director Warren Denholm, who was chief engineer and manager of the restoration project, carried out for American Gerry Jagan who acquired the plane for his Military Aviation Museum at Virginia Beach after it was pulled from a Russian swamp.
The Northland visit was sponsored by John Antunovich, formerly of Whangarei but now living at Ardmore, who had bought the Mosquito engines as surplus from the Royal New Zealand Air Force many years ago for a restoration project which stalled.
Mr Denholm said the motors had gone to Melbourne, but were brought back for the Jagan project.
Another at Onerahi was Donna Jarman, from Parua Bay company Replicore NZ Ltd, which built the radiators, cabin heaters, intercoolers and oil coolers for the Mosquito. The firm specialises in making radiator parts for aircraft and vintage cars.
The Mosquito will fly in the Wings over Wairarapa festival at Masterton on Wellington Anniversary Weekend later this month and will then be dismantled and boxed up for travel to Virginia Beach, which is on the east coast of the United States.