Knights of the Sky World War I Museum : just like the real thing !
Amazing Aviation Heritage Center at Omaka airfield is part of a marvellous aviation restoration world by Sir Peter Jackson.
On April 21st 1918, Canadian Pilot Captain A.R. Brown D.S.C 209 Sqn Royal Flying Corps was flying a Sopwith BR near Vaux Sur Somme armed with two Vickers Guns. As officially recorded to his Squadron headquarters, he engaged a Red Fokker Triplane at 11-00 AM :
" At 10.35 a.m. I observed two Albatross burst into flames ans crash. Dived on large formation of 15-20 Albatross Scouts D 5's and Fokker Triplanes, two of which got on my tail and I came out. Went back again and dived on pure red triplane which was firing on Lieut. May. I got a long burst into him and he went down vertical and was observed to crash by Lieut. Mellersh and Lieut. May. I fired on two more but did not get them "
Numerous records from gunners pretend they have shot down that famed Red Baron Fokker Triplane themwelves with ground fire on that same day, as was the case with australian gunner Cedric Popkin's claims that he may have shot the decisive bullet against Manfred from Moulincourt bridge. Today Cpt Brown's report remain one of the most accurate ones and I think misteries still surrounding the identity of who killed top WWI ace Manfred Von Richtofen - nicknamed as the Red Baron - provide additional reasons to activate the legend of that Baron who downed 80 aircraft in his career.
Truth to say it is incredible how much WWI is loaded with legends and misteries on aviators. And it is probably a good reason why famous New Zealander Film Producer Peter Jackson gained huge interest in these stories. So he designed a museum just as a film shooting studio, in order to record the spirit of the incredible 1914-1918 adventurers who had built their own style of aerial chivalry, but somehow against their headquarter orders. So that very place everyone must have a glimpse into that spirit of WWI warfare is Omaka airfield's " Knights of The Sky " Museum. To say the least, this area is one of the most amazing aviation Museums in the world. It is a place like no other ones where all characters and airplanes are put together into sceneries making all details looking things real. Not only the light is well orchestrated by Peter Jackson teams - world known for having made the " Lord of the Rings " Trilogy - but all materials including snow, oil leaks or mud seem genuine. Airplanes are serviced by characters who reflect fear, desperation, and other ones express full determination in their eyes to bomb or kill the adversary.
Realism is at its foremost in the scene depicting what " may " have happened as soon as the Red Baron was shot down and crashed. British soldiers are depicted scrapping the precious Fokker Dreidekker to keep usefull items such as the Baron's warm boots, but foremost they were keen on scrapping some of the german crosses worn by the Fokker.
It appears Peter Jackson hunts for everything artefact or souvenir that did belong to an ace whatever his nationality was. Too little space in this magazine is available to recard all genuine gems that belong to E. Rickenbacker, or to most WWI german aces. Incredibly there is a true Hall of Fame dedicated to german pilots such as Boelcke, and also most Von Richtoffen Jasta 11 Squadron collegues. Interestingly Richtoffen items are displayed around the crash scene such as the real cross that belong to the real airplane. His own trophies gained with every victory are also in, and his brother Lothar Von Richtoffen - also an ace - personal stuffs also rest in this strange sanctuary. Who could guess all these valuable gems are collected in Omaka airport close to Blenheim, a small remote location in Marlborough - New Zealand - which for now seems to remain more famous for wine than for WWI collections. More on Omaka fabulous aeroplanes soon.