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The Panio

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The unit I was with at the time, was about to deploy to a northern base. The accommodation at this base was about 3 km from the base amenities, so enquiries were made about taking personal push bikes on the Herc to cover this distance. The equippo's promptly replied that there were strict weight restrictions for the Herc and that personal luggage was to be kept to an absolute minimum.

A day or so later an upright piano appeared among all the other gear that was crucial to any deployment, with the aircrew showing a keen interest in its well being. Apparently there was a long standing tradition with the Kiwi aircrew that dated back about 2 years, and the piano was to play a major role in its continuation.

The Herc trip took about 6 hours. One noisy transport aircraft filled with about 50 pissed off airmen who would have to walk to the boozer, and a piano. You can't tell me the pianos days weren't already numbered.

Upon arrival, both Aussie and Kiwi aircrew were there to supervise the safe unloading of the piano. It was carefully loaded into a truck for transport to the range. Here it was to be set up as a bomb target. After being transported 300 km to the range, aircrew realised they would never hit it, and it was brought back. This time it was to undergo a "sacrificial burning". Not too many people can stuff that up.

There was a knock at the door. "We know where the piano is", was heard. A quick door knocking session and there were soon enough Gunnies to move a piano. Next was the requisitioning of a vehicle. Not even a challenge. Under the cover of darkness, in total silence, and in a state of complete sobriety, the piano was soon moved from the truck to a much smaller Land Rover. A short drive into the scrub, and a new home was soon found for the piano. And to this day, when the wind is in the South you can hear the tinkling of piano keys.

In this picture you'll find a couple of the keys that came from the very same Piano. They were brought back to N.Z. after the exercise and were going to be mounted and presented to the aircrew, but then we thought stuff the aircrew, they'll look good in our gunnie bar. They are a talking point now, so if anyone asks what they are all about then the story is told.


Picture sent in by T.C.

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