WOW 2018 Flying Scholarships Launched
Wanaka: One of New Zealand’s most experienced Warbirds display pilots has described the Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships as vitally important to the future of airshow flying in this country.
Keith Skilling has been displaying aircraft at airshows around the world, including every Warbirds Over Wanaka event, for more than 30 years and is nearing retirement.
The Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships were introduced in 2016 and so far four pilots have received $5,000 each to help towards their goal of being airshow display pilots.
Keith points out the pool of display pilots in New Zealand is in general rapidly aging, and without financial help the next generation will find it almost impossible to gain the experience required to be able to participate.
“It is not just the ability to pilot an aircraft that is required, the display pilot must also gain experience in aerobatics, learn formation techniques, airshow protocol and display fundamentals. All this must be done in aircraft generally more powerful, larger, much more capable, more expensive and rarer than aircraft they have previously flown,” said Keith.
Keith has recently been flying at airshows in Europe and says it’s hard to make a direct comparison with New Zealand.
“In England the huge population means many more airshows, sometimes a number of events on the same weekend, plus they have many more aircraft. But somehow New Zealand airshows still manage to hold their own against those in England as some of the larger ones have become a bit stale over the years. New Zealand airshows tend to have a greater variety of aircraft and our shows seem a lot more personal and intimate,” he said.
Applications for the 2018 Scholarships open on July 2nd and close on August 31st. Application forms are available on the Warbirds Over Wanaka website www.warbirdsoverwanaka.com
The next Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow will be held at Easter 2020 (April 10th, 11th and 12th). Tickets will go on sale in February next year.