From Ngaire’s journal, 10th October 1953 (the first of the ‘Great Air Race’ competititors arrive in Christchurch)
What a day!!! At midnight we had a meal of bacon, eggs and tomato and coffee…At 2am we left, taking with us rugs and hot water bottles, sandwiches and ‘Thermos’ flasks of tea…At 5 am we learned that the first ‘Canberra’ aircraft was approaching so we had a meal and then stood out in the driving sleet and waited until about 5.36am when it arrived. It was totally thrilling to see it and to know that it had come all the way from London in a few minutes less than 24 hours. Marvellous!!
Just over ½ hour later (6.14am) the second ‘Canberra’ arrived. Then the third came at 6.27am. We watched them all line up and the men from the Dept of Agriculture sprayed them with disinfectant. We smiled at this when we thought of the weather any microbe had passed through. When we arrived home at 7.15 am we had a cup of tea and then retired to bed. I had put a roast of beef in the oven with vegetables and left it to cook. At 1.45pm we all wakened refreshed and had a hot dinner at 3 pm. We went again to Harewood at 730pm and waited to see the arrival of the British Vickers “Viscount”. This caused great excitement. Instead of coming from the nor-west like the others, it came from the east with its lights flashing causing a great sensation as it circled the ‘drone before landing.”
I love the entries in Ngaire’s journal about the Great Air Race – she is so thrilled by the whole event. Of course, I especially love that she has more to say about the food than the aeroplanes. Ngaire firmly believed that nothing could be achieved on an empty stomach, no matter what the time. It’s a trait she’s passed on – we all have a strong inclination to travel with sandwiches and thermos just in case and can get very antsy if we don’t know where the next meal is coming from.
Speaking of which, it’s dinner time so I must go and conjure something up. If only I’d thought to pop a roast of beef in the oven with vegetables and left it to cook.
More on The Great Air Race tomorrow.
Image from Last Great Air Race: London – Christchurch 1953, The by Robin Bromby