Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flying Pieces ... #188

The practice of sending messages by homing pigeon during World War I is being rekindled in order to bring a billboard to Wellington. About 380 intrepid birds have been released gradually during the past fortnight from Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim, each carrying a piece of the billboard message rolled in a cylinder attached to its leg. The last 90 were let loose yesterday in the official ceremony - some by pre-schoolers. The billboard, which promotes the aviation centre, is believed to be the first in the world to be delivered in jigsaw pieces by carrier pigeon.

The puzzle is being put together this week with the last pieces being placed onThursday when Weta Workshop's Richard Taylor and three men dressed in World War I garb assemble the pieces on a billboard site at the corner of Dixon and Victoria streets. The weather today was hot and this guy in a heavy khaki WW1 uniform was sweatimnh it climbing up and down the ladder to place the pieces on the billboard

The heritage centre, whose collection is managed by a Peter Jackson-chaired trust, has one of the largest collections of World War I planes and memorabilia in the world. The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre promotes aviation history through its world-class collection of World War One fighter planes. Planes are displayed in life-like exhibits created by Weta Workshop. The Centre is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best World War One aviation experiences.

Chief executive Jane Orphan said homing pigeons were used as a tribute to the vital role they played in wartime communications. More than 100,000 pigeons were used during the war with a 95 per cent success rate.

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