Photo opportunities don't wait. How else to explain why I got up at 7am on Sunday (after staying out 'til 3am on Saturday night), spent about an hour and a half on a cool windswept hill near the airport on a bleak and blustery morning waiting for a plane to leave that I wasn't even sure was going anywhere anytime soon, but rumour had said was leaving sometime around now plus or minus an hour or so....
Spectators started arriving around the rumoured departure time which made me feel more optimistic and less foolish, and I was duly rewarded with a nice sequence (click to biggify) :
Reason for all the fuss is that the aircraft is a Gulf Air Airbus A340, a loooooong way from home, departing Wellington at 0915 carrying the Bahraini football team home after their loss to the All Whites the night before.
A340's are extremely rare in Wellington (this was in fact the first time one has been here, although they operate regularly into Auckland and Christchurch), and Gulf Air (wiki link) doesn't operate scheduled services to NZ at all (funny that, given they are based in Bahrain). The aircraft was chartered to carry the team and entourage, which gives you an idea of how much well the Bahrainis have coped with the recession.
Adding to that the A340 is one of the largest and heaviest aircraft ever to fly in and out of Wellington, and looks quite fetching in the Gulf Air colour scheme to boot.
So rare aircraft, rare colour scheme, first time time it's flying out of Wellington, I like planes and photographing them, equals opportunity not to be missed and 90 minutes spent sitting on a breezy hillside early on a Sunday morning for an event that lasted all of 5 minutes (actually less than a minute for the actual takeoff run).
I do things like this.