The inaugural winners of the Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships were announced in November.
Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot Michael Williams and Christchurch-based aerobatics pilot Andrew Love have been awarded the first two scholarships valued at $5,000 each. WOW hopes to be able to award two scholarships every year.
Michael is looking to possibly get some time in a WWII ‘heavy metal’ aircraft or possibly some Harvard aerobatic formation training while Andrew will use his scholarship to become rated in a Harvard.
So who are our winners?
Michael Williams – Michael can trace his love of aviation and Warbirds back to when he was a boy. He worked odd jobs and saved money over a two-year period just to pay for a flight in a Harvard when he was 13-years-old. Michael has been a member of the New Zealand Warbirds Association since 1998. Over a period of a year Michael and a friend restored a DHC-1 Chipmunk as committee members of the NZ Sport and Vintage Aviation Society. Michael’s military career has intentionally been guided in the direction required to gain experience that would assist in warbird type operations. This included applying for, and obtaining, qualifications as a display pilot on the Royal Australian Air Force PC9/A whilst on exchange, as well as being a former Red Checkers #5 and #6. His current posting to the T-6C Texan II was also pursued with similar intent. The last seven years has also seen him volunteering at the Vintage Aviator in Masterton and he says he’s been lucky enough to display their Tiger Moth and DH5 aircraft and also get time flying the Pfalz DIII. Thirty-eight-year-old Michael is married with a young family and lives in Fielding.
Andrew Love – Andrew attended his first ever airshow at Wanaka in 1994. He was aged 9 and that was it. “I was hooked and I haven’t missed a Wanaka show since. I was completely enthralled by Warbird aircraft as a kid but also by aerobatics.” Andrew flew solo for the first time the day after his 16th birthday and gained his PPL while working after school and with a lot of help from his parents. There have been a few people along the way who have inspired Andrew. Seeing Richard Hood perform aerobatics in the Pitts Special at Wanaka has had a significant impact on his aviation path which has culminated in Andrew recently being elected vice-president of the NZ Aerobatics Club. Another to have a strong influence on him was Wanaka-based Peter Hendriks. Peter gave Andrew another perspective on the art of airmanship and he had an opportunity to fly Peter’s Tiger Moth on commercial operations and to work as an instructor. Thirty-three year old Andrew runs a successful cleaning business in Christchurch.