Wave Camp Poetry, With Apologies To Banjo

Allan Armistead Diamond Mine by Allan Armistead

There was movement at the airfields, for the word had got around
The westerlies were blowing Bunyan way
The Canberra boys were ready; it was wave camp time again
Who knows when it may be a diamond day?

All the tried and noted pilots from the clubs both near and far
Had mustered at the clubhouse overnight
For glider men love flying among the high lenticular
And the whiff of oxy fills them with delight

There were Russ and Mal from Corowra, and the boys from Southern Cross
They came from Adelaide, and Bathurst on the plains
For if you miss the wave the day it’s on then forever it’s your loss
And everyone is chasing the height gains

The tug is there, the rope is laid, the barographs are checked
The gliders out, the oxy bottles full
The avfax says the winds are right, let’s hope our dreams aren’t wrecked
Cause sometimes the forecast is all bull

So who’ll be first, let’s take a launch, somebody needs to fly
Let’s listen for that screaming vario
It makes its steady welcome beep that says you’re going high
Now you’re up there, looking down below

It could be a record, diamond, gold, if you really got that high
Would you believe that some folks think we’re odd
But we don’t care ’cause we’ve been there where eagles fly
And we’ve reached out and touched the hand of God

And when the hangar doors are closed, and the tug is put away
It’s time to pull the cork and settle down
A bottle of the finest red, while Millard rounds the day
With tales of deeds that will not leave a frown

But there’s more to this than flying ’cause there’s a real friendship here
The stories that are told each night are great
They scale the heights, of the flights that conquered fear
And pay tribute to the memory of a mate

A raconteur is Millard, as he quotes from Patterson
Enduring taunts from pilots less well bred
For the gathering is boisterous of these lads who’ve had their fun
And whose thoughts should soon turn to bed

A new day is tomorrow, and who knows what it may bring
We’ll scan the sky at dawn for any sign
They are seeking the elusive wave, for that early morning fling
But if it’s not on, then back to bed ’till nine

So if you missed the camp this year, don’t make that same mistake
When the call goes out to you next wintertime
For if you want your diamond then you need to take the break
The skies of Bunyan are a diamond mine

1 Comment »

  1. DrewMcKinnie said,

    September 28, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

    Hi guys,

    That was a fun wave camp and we sure enjoyed having you with us. The dinner we shared at the Transylvania vineyard (no joke) with Allan’s poetry was also excellent. Not much wave but great camaraderie and some good fun in the air. Sleeping under the wing of the Cessna was a good move :-)

    Unfortunately, our friend Allan’s flights that week were his last. This morning, Allan has taken his last long high launch.

    For some time he had been fighting a lymphoma condition. He had a good remission period, then it resurged, so he recently took a Canadian holiday with his wife Dell. He died quietly, peacefully, without suffering. He had been on oxygen and painkilling medication throughout, but his lungs just couldn’t keep up with demand, and he slipped away. We all took comfort from the fact that Canberra’s southern sky was filled with strong lenticular clouds, firing off the Tinderry Ranges and Brindabellas, when he died.

    So these words Allan wrote and recited with such spirit have special significance for us all.


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