Why would anyone want to bomb Upolu Airport, a lightly used airstrip at the northern tip of the island, which is where I go walking because of the peace and quiet? That’s what I wondered when I went down there on Saturday and found 20-plus aircraft, cars parked alongside the road, and a lot of people milling around. Turns out, a group of aviation enthusiasts had organized a fly-in and I’d stumbled on it en route to my walk.
There were planes parked, planes circling above, planes zipping by a whisker above the ground. Apart from the general milling around, a couple of events were scheduled. The first was a touch and go challenge where the goal was to touch as close as possible in front of a line across the runway. Touch down after the line and it counted for nought.
The other event was the bombing run. By the time that rolled around, I’d walked around to the other side of the runway and was leaning on a fence chatting to a couple of airport maintenance workers. The target circle for the bombing challenge, which involved bags of flour rather than high explosives, was not far from where I was so I decided to wait for it to play out, which took rather longer than I anticipated.
What I was hoping for was large bags of flour being dropped from a decent height and exploding in a large white cloud. Instead the bags were small and dropped from just a few feet above the ground as the planes flew by very low indeed. I don’t think the exercise even broke a bag, let alone throwing up a cloud of flour.
Still, it appeared that a good time was had by all, and while my walk got a zero on the peace and quiet scale, it got high marks for being, as they used to say on Monty Python, something completely different.