Friday, 07 August 2020


"Rediscovered" trophies awarded at Mercury Bay Aero Club AGM

At the Mercury Bay Aero Club’s 72nd AGM that was held on Saturday last week, trophies that haven’t been awarded in many decades were presented to three members of the club.

Late last year, club captain, John Gemmel, “re-discovered” the three trophies hidden away in a cabinet in the club building at the Whitianga Airfield. He set out to organise some events and started keeping his eyes open for club members who displayed an exceptional level of airmanship in the skies above Whitianga and other aerodromes around New Zealand.

In addition, to the trophies, John has also handed each of the recipients a small kea carved from wood. “The trophy recipients will obviously have to hand their trophies back at some stage, but they can keep the keas,” said John. “Each of the keas is engraved with the club member’s achievements and will hopefully serve to remind them of the fact that one of the trophies was awarded to them at some point in their lives.”

The McCullum Cup for Airmanship was awarded to Cara Bosman. The cup was last awarded in 1967. At 17 years old, Cara is the club’s youngest pilot. She flew solo on her 16th birthday in 2018 and worked her way through several pilot’s exams and licences last year. Before she embarked on a Rotary exchange to the Netherlands in early January this year, she put in an enormous effort to obtain a licence with a passenger rating. She flew her mother, her first passenger, on the day before she left for Europe.

Cara has since returned to New Zealand because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is hoping that she will have an opportunity later this year to spend a few more months in the Netherlands. Her flying continues to attract compliments, including an incident where she quickly had to vacate the runway upon landing as the aircraft behind her suffered an emergency.

Tony Gong was the recipient of the Coombes Cup for winning the club’s clay bird shooting competition. It was the first time the cup was awarded and admittedly the first time in many years the club members competed against each other in a clay bird shooting competition that was held at the Whitianga Gun Club in February.

Retired Boeing 777 pilot, Peter McVinnie, was awarded the “Mercury Bay Aero Club Spot Landing” trophy. The last time the trophy was awarded was in 1982. John planned a series of three spot landing competitions during the first four months of this year, but only one was completed because of the coronavirus restrictions. “Peter won on points on the day,” John said on Saturday. “There was a strong crosswind, so he’s a worthy recipient of what will hopefully become a highly coveted cup in the years to come.”

Outgoing club president, Bill Beard, was also presented with a kea by John to mark a decade of involvement in the club committee, most of the time as president or vice-president.

Pictured: The trophy winners after the AGM on Saturday. From left to right - Peter McVinnie, Cara Bosman, Phil Welcome (who accepted the Coombes Cup on behalf of Tony Gong), Bill Beard (outgoing club president) and John Gemmel (club captain).


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.