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WOW Community Trust Flying Scholarship Winners

Air Force pilot Michael Williams from Fielding and Christchurch-based aerobatic pilot Andrew Love have been awarded the inaugural Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships. 

Michael and Andrew were selected from more than 30 applicants for the $5,000 scholarships, organised by the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust. Selecting the winners from such an impressive line-up of applicants was an incredibly hard task.

The selection panel was made up of five people and every one of them had trouble getting the field down to an initial short list of ten candidates, let alone the final top four and then our winners.

The aim of the scholarships is to give pilots more experience in flying Warbird aircraft with so that in the future they will be displaying at Wanaka and other airshows. There has been concern in the past at the age of many of our top display pilots but this exercise has convinced us there is no lack of younger people looking to come through the ranks.

Following the outstanding success of the first scholarships the Trust is hoping to be able to award two scholarships every year going forward, funds permitting.

The Winners

Thirty-eight-year-old Michael Williams is an experienced pilot and is currently flying the new T-6C Texan II as an A Category Qualified Flight Instructor at the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Central Flying School at Ohakea.

Michael says that while he thoroughly enjoys his position with the RNZAF, his away-from-work passion lies with vintage and Warbird aircraft. Michael hopes to use his scholarship towards dual flight training in a ‘heavy’ WWII piston aircraft.

Thirty-two-year-old Andrew Love runs his own business in Christchurch and is currently vice-president of the New Zealand Aerobatics Club. Andrew has had a passion for aviation since an early age and first flew solo the day after his 16th birthday. 

He first visited Warbirds Over Wanaka as a nine-year-old and hasn’t missed an airshow since. Andrew has flown many aircraft types and intends to use his scholarship to become rated in a T-6 Harvard which is one of the aircraft that regularly displays at Warbirds Over Wanaka.

Michael Williams



Andrew Love


Donation to LandSAR

The job of members of the Wanaka Search and Rescue cliff rescue team (LandSAR) is about to become safer thanks to this year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has announced a donation of more than $8,000 to fund the purchase of night vision gear for the team. The money comes from the surplus posted following this year’s airshow.

Cliff rescue team leader Rich Raynes says while those flying the helicopter already have night vision gear, cliff rescue team members in the back of the machine are often left searching ‘in the dark’. Having this equipment will mean we can assist the pilot and crew up front with locating a specific target and maintaining a good search pattern.

It’s also important that we are involved in ensuring a good location, terrain and hazard assessment is made before we get out of the helicopter either by landing or winch. Having this night vision gear will ensure best practice when it comes to this aspect of each mission.

Because of the additional risks involved, night search and rescue operations are not undertaken lightly and each one is assessed individually before a decision is made to go out in the dark. Having this gear will not mean we will necessarily be conducting more night rescues but it means that when we do go up at night we will have more eyes able to contribute to the mission.

There is a good fit between the two organisations. Safety is our number one priority at Warbirds and it’s great to know that if any of our pilots and aircraft do get into trouble in the mountains that Search and Rescue is there, fully equipped and ready to help.

Photo caption: LandSAR cliff rescue team leader Rich Raynes (right) shows the new night vision gear to Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor.


WOW Flying Scholarship Entries

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has been impressed by the number and high calibre of applicants for its new Flying Scholarships. A total of 32 pilots have applied for the inaugural scholarships which are valued at $5,000 each.

Applications have been received from around New Zealand, from Auckland in the North to Te Anau in the South along with one application from a New Zealand pilot currently working in Australia.

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, said it was heartening to see there is still a lot of passion out there, especially from younger pilots, to be given the chance to fly the old Warbird aircraft. He added that the Trust had intended to award one scholarship this year but given the high calibre of applications we are now looking at the possibility of making two grants in this our inaugural scholarship year.

The ultimate aim of the scholarships is to have a new crop of Warbird display pilots coming through the system to ensure there are pilots to fly Warbird aircraft for years to come.

Just being able to fly some of these aircraft takes a high level of skill, to display them at an airshow like Warbirds Over Wanaka is an even bigger challenge.

A scholarship panel has started the process of evaluating all 32 applications and it’s hoped they will have drawn up a short list by the end of October and will be in a position to announce the winners in November.

Donation to Upper Clutha Volunteer Fire Brigades

The Upper Clutha region’s three volunteer fire brigades have benefitted from the success of this year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has donated almost $6,000 towards the purchase of new equipment including two struts to secure vehicles at the scene of crashes.

The struts will be kept on the crash rescue truck which is based at the Wanaka Fire Station but which attends crashes throughout the region, while the Wanaka, Luggate and Lake Hawea brigades will each receive a set of special LED emergency lights.

Wanaka Fire Chief Bruno Galloway says attending vehicle crashes is an integral part of what they do and in many cases requires specialist equipment and that having the struts means they can now secure a crashed vehicle so fire fighters and paramedics can more easily and safely get to victims who may be trapped inside.

The lights are also going to be a fantastic addition for attending crashes at night. They will have a number of uses including lighting possible landing sites for medivac helicopters.

The three local fire brigades have been involved with the event stretching back to the early days of the airshow. While WOW pays a fee for the fire trucks to be on hand during the airshow, the volunteers still give up their Easter break to be at WOW. It’s great that this year’s airshow returned enough of a surplus to allow us to make this donation which will hopefully make the jobs of these volunteers just that little bit safer.

Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust Chairman John Gilks says the donation fits well with the objectives of the Trust Deed which includes to promote, or assist to promote, activities beneficial to the community, particularly in the Upper Clutha area.



Warbirds Over Wanaka: advice for people attending and those not attending

Warbirds Over Wanaka: advice for people attending and those not attending

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow runs this Easter, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 25- 27 March, attracting around 20,000 people Saturday and Sunday and half that number on the Good Friday practise day.

Held at Wanaka Airport to the south-east of the town, the main highways feeding people to the Airshow carparks from the south are State Highway 6 from Cromwell, State Highway 8A from Tarras and from the Wanaka side, State Highway 6 to the east.

Drivers wanting to park and attend the Airshow

In order to avoid traffic jams, drivers parking on Saturday and Sunday need to be aware that SH6 in the vicinity of the Airport will be run largely as a one-way system morning and later afternoon to get people smoothly in and out of the carparks.

During these times a detour will be available to those using SH6 to go to destinations other than the Airshow – see below for more detail.

From the intersections of the Tarras and Cromwell highways to the south of the airport to the intersection of SH6 with Ballantyne Road on the Wanaka (north) side of the airport, the road will have traffic management controls morning and afternoon/evening.

Morning inwards towards the carparks 9 am to 11 am

To get people safely parked, drivers can drivetowards the airport carparks from each side of State Highway 6 in these hours. Emergency vehicles and residents will also be able to have access both directions.

People who want to drop others off can probably also do so, but need to exercise caution as they leave as the road lane outwards will be constricted by people coming in. Ideally, they should try to drop people off well before 9 am when the traffic starts to build up and people are looking for a carpark.

Afternoon advice for leaving the carparks and picking people up 4-6 pm

In the afternoon the flows reverse. Drivers can go away from the airport in both directions with no inbound traffic towards the airport, bar emergency vehicles.

People who want to pick others up need to ensure they arrive and park at the Airshow carparks well before 4 pm or after 6 pm.

Outside the morning and afternoon ebb and tide flow periods

Outside the morning and afternoon carpark filling and carpark emptying hours, the state highway will be open in both directions as a two lane highway.

Speed restrictions will be in place and drivers are encouraged to slow down given the amount of people and cars in this area and the Airshow taking up people’s attention.

Good Friday traffic management – slow down, Stop/Go

Around 10,000 people go to the Airshow on the Good Friday practise day, about half the Saturday volumes. Manual traffic management (Stop/Go) will control inwards and outwards drivers to the carparks and there will be speed restrictions on the highway.

Not going to the Airshow? There is a detour in place, but it may only be operational at peak hours. Be prepared for it.

· People just wanting to get to Wanaka or the West Coast via Haast may be detoured off State highways 8A and 6 from before Luggate Hill onto Church Road and the Red Bridge and Kane Road.

· On the north side of Wanaka, drivers coming south towards Cromwell will be detoured onto Camphill Road off SH6 towards Kane Road and back towards the Red Bridge.

· This detour could add half an hour to the trip for people heading to Wanaka from the south.

· The detour is able to be in place all day Saturday and Sunday, 6 am to 10 pm if necessary, but it is likely it may be only be enforced at the peak morning and evening arriving and leaving hours – 9-11 am and 4-6 pm.



Friday Surprise

Visitors to the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow practice day on Good Friday are in for a couple of extra treats this Easter.

The United States and Australian Airforces have confirmed they will both be arriving in Wanaka in time to perform their displays on the Friday which will be an added treat for our Friday visitors.

The US Airforce are bringing their C-17 Globemaster demo team to Wanaka. This team performs with this huge aircraft at all the world’s major airshows. The RAAF are bringing three Hawk Jets to Wanaka.

While not as big in terms of overall numbers, Friday is still a very important day at the airshow. 

Friday is the day when aviation enthusiasts and other members of the general public can get around all the ground displays, check out the display aircraft being prepared for the airshow and still get to see a majority of the aircraft in the air at some time over the day.

Later on the Friday attention turns from Wanaka Airport to the Wanaka lakefront for the ‘Warbirds On the Lake’ event. This free community event is expected to again draw a crowd of many thousands to the Wanaka foreshore to see aircraft in action over the water. 


Flaming Finale

Spectators can enjoy a stunning finale at this Easter’s airshow at Wanaka Airport.

The pyrotechnic team is planning the biggest ‘wall of fire’ display ever seen in New Zealand. The resulting firey explosion will be around 400 metres long and reach 100 metres into the air.

Head Pyrotechnic is Taranaki-based fireman Pete Gallagher. The team have been putting lots of time into preparing for this massive display to end this year’s Wanaka Airshow. The display involves using 800 litres of fuel, around two kilometres of wiring and all seven members of the Pyro team.

Meanwhile, also announced is another first for Warbirds Over Wanaka with a five-ship jet display planned to wow crowds.

Due to the unavailability of some aircraft, the Jet Racing will not go ahead at this year’s Airshow as planned but with a number of jets here, organisers are working on some impressive displays.

Confirmed are two Vampire jets, two Strikemaster jets and an L29 fitted with a Viper engine. The Royal Australian Airforce has confirmed it will be bringing a 3-ship Hawk display team across the Tasman ensuring there will be plenty of jets for visitors to see in action.  




Hispano Buchon Me-109 Voyage

The Me-109 has begun a 19,000 kilometre, 47-day voyage bound for the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The Hispano Buchon Me-109 has been dismantled and put into a container and is being shipped to New Zealand by Hamburg Sud as part of their sponsorship of the airshow. The ship left the Port of London onboard the ‘CMA CGM America’ this week.

The aircraft will be transferred to the ‘Spirit of Sydney’ in Cartagena, Colombia before heading through the Panama Canal and on to Port Chalmers where it’s due to arrive on March 5th.

The Me-109 is owned by John Romain of the Aircraft Restoration Company based at Duxford in the UK. John and one of his engineers will oversee the unpacking, re-assembly and test flying of the aircraft over the week leading up to the airshow.

John Romain is regarded as one of the UK’s most accomplished Warbirds pilots and will fly the aircraft at Wanaka.

Airshow patrons will get plenty of opportunities to see the aircraft at the airshow as it’s expected to fly at least twice a day. This will include an aerial duel with its Battle of Britain nemesis the Spitfire.

Four Airforces

A record four air forces will attend next Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. The Royal New Zealand Airforce will be joined by aircraft and crews from the United States Airforce, Royal Australian Airforce and French Airforce.

The French Air Force debuted at Wanaka at the 2014 airshow when they had a CASA transport aircraft on static display. This time the CASA will put on a flying display on both days of the airshow showing off its capabilities.

The Australians have confirmed their participation and at this stage are looking to bring back their Hawk Jets to perform after a very popular debut at the 2014 airshow.

Meanwhile, the RNZAF has announced the first visit to Warbirds Over Wanaka by the new Texan aircraft which make up the airforce’s new display team – the Black Falcons.

The RNZAF has also confirmed the Hercules will be involved in static and aerial displays, the Kiwi Blue skydive team will perform while the NH90 helicopters will be showing off capabilities and also be on static display. It’s also hoped the RNZAF will be part of the free lakeside event late on Good Friday afternoon.

Air BP

Warbirds Over Wanaka has confirmed its longest standing sponsor and official fuel supplier, Air BP is back on board for next Easter’s event.

Air BP has been associated with the airshow from the very beginning. Many other sponsors have come and gone over that time but Air BP has been staunch in its support of the event. The company has played an integral part in ensuring our event maintains its world-class reputation. They have invested a significant amount by way of sponsorship dollars and provided a first-class refuelling service for display and other visiting aircraft.

Marketing Manager, General Aviation for Air BP, Jack Robert, says as a company they have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with Warbirds Over Wanaka for the past 28 years. Air BP was involved right back when Sir Tim Wallis started the airshow in 1988. Over the years our support has continued to grow as the event has become New Zealand’s premier airshow and one which is recognised world-wide. 

Entries are now OPEN!

Online entries have now opened for Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow visitors to win one of 10 unique opportunities to be part of an aerial display at the event next Easter.

Skydive Wanaka has come onboard as a sponsor of Warbirds Over Wanaka. As part of their agreement they are offering five tandem skydives each day on the Saturday and Sunday of the airshow.

People will need to be at the airshow to be eligible to win the prize but can enter online now at Visitors will also be able to enter at the airshow.

Each of the winners will be teamed up with one of Skydive Wanaka’s experienced tandem jumpmasters for the display which will include them landing right in front of thousands of airshow spectators.

United States Airforce C-17 Globemaster III

The United States Air Force has confirmed it will be part of the flying display at Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow for the first time in the 28 year history of the event.

The Pacific Air Forces C-17 Globemaster III Demonstration Team is hosted by the 15th Wing of the USAF at Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam in Hawaii. The visit to Wanaka has been confirmed by Brigadier General Gregory M. Guillot who says the US Air Force is excited about coming to Wanaka and to be showing off the capabilities of the aircraft.

The  C-17 demo team is made up of four people and being a member of the team requires a high level of experience in the C-17. Veteran pilots who have been instructors, evaluators or aircraft commanders are selected.

Airshows take flying these large aircraft to the next level with precision and speed required to put on a proper demonstration for the public. Although the flying profile is not much different from an operational mission, it is very fast-paced and the pilots need to have additional training to ensure safety and precision flying.

The last involvement by the United States Air Force at Warbirds Over Wanaka was in 2010 when an LC-130, the polar version of the C-130 cargo plane, attached to the US Antarctica programme, was on static display. 

The C-17 Globemaster has been suggested as one of the possible replacements for the RNZAF’s aging Hercules C-130 fleet.

Catalina Fundraising

The New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society has thanked the Wanaka community for contributing towards keeping one of New Zealand’s favourite Warbird aircraft flying. The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust raised $3,000 for the Society at a special screening of the movie “Return of the Catalina” at Cinema Paradiso in Wanaka earlier this month.

The Catalina Flying Boat has been a regular at Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow over the years but hasn’t been seen here since 2010. The 70-year-old aircraft has been out of action while it underwent a major refurbishment.

The Catalina Chief Pilot Brett Emeny says it’s been a very expensive exercise but hopefully it will mean the aircraft will now be good for another 30 years. When you start work on these old aircraft you always find a lot more to do and that all costs money. We are very grateful to the Wanaka crowd for helping us. The support doesn’t surprise me because I know lots of Wanaka locals who are always telling me they just love seeing the aircraft land on the lake.

The Catalina refurbishment is almost complete, and the aircraft will make its first airshow appearance following the work, at Wanaka next Easter. The Catalina will be part of the aerial display at the airshow but will also be part of the Friday night free community event on the Wanaka lakefront. It’s hoped the Catalina will land on the lake along with a number of other amphibious aircraft. 

The mission of the Warbirds Trust is to ‘educate through the promotion and celebration of aviation past and present’ and this event fitted nicely with WOW’s goals of trying to keep as many Warbirds in New Zealand and more importantly, flying in New Zealand. Without the team at Cinema Paradiso this simply wouldn’t have happened and we wouldn’t have raised anywhere near the $3,000.

Skydive Wanaka

For the first time ever visitors to the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow will have the opportunity to be part of an aerial display.  Warbirds Over Wanaka has teamed up with the award-winning Skydive Wanaka who are offering 10 visitors the opportunity to be part of a tandem skydiving display during the airshow next Easter.

This is a truly unique opportunity, to give our visitors the chance to be part of an actual aerial display. Doing a skydive is one of those bucket list things for many people, but doing it in front of tens of thousands of people at an internationally recognised airshow takes it to a whole new level and will give them bragging rights for a long time.

Skydive Wanaka General Manager Blake Mason says they’ve always been big supporters of Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. The event is recognised as one of the best Warbirds airshows in the world and at Skydive Wanaka we are always striving to be up there in terms of the experience for our visitors. Having the opportunity to show off the skills of our tandem jump masters is a great opportunity for us.

Visitors to the airshow will be able to pre-register online on the Skydive Wanaka website from December 1st as well as at the Skydive Wanaka marquee during the airshow. There will be five lucky winners each day on the Saturday and Sunday of the airshow.

Supermarine Mark IX Spitfire

The Spitfire, one of the most  famous aircraft of WWII joins the Warbirds line up at WOW 2016. Designed in 1934/35, an estimated 22,579 Spitfires served in all spheres of the War and afterwards.

This particular aircraft, piston engined, was restored by the Deere family of Marton and decorated in honour of family member Air Commodore Alan Deere who served with the RAF for forty years.

Air Bandits Reunite

Two members of the world famous Air Bandits aerobatic team will be reuniting at next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Two-time World Aerobatic Champion, Jurgis Kairys from Lithuania, will team up with Auckland-based Rob Fry to perform together at Wanaka for the first time since 2008.

Jurgis is one of the world’s most accomplished aerobatic pilots and is a crowd favourite at Wanaka, having stunned visitors with his solo performance at last year’s Warbirds Airshow in Rob Fry’s Sukhoi-Su29.

Jurgis is bringing his own aircraft to Wanaka for the 2016 airshow. An aircraft designer and engineer, Jurgis designed the Juka (the name comes from his initials) as a lightweight aerobatic aircraft. The Juka weighs less than the lightest Sukhoi and is powered by a Russian M14PF engine developing 400hp to give it a very impressive performance.

Jurgis continues to be in hot demand around the world and has been performing at airshows in China. Most recently he was one of the star attractions at the big China International General Aviation Convention Airshow in Pucheng.

Jurgis has been one of the stars of the event over a number of years and Airshow visitors just can’t get enough of him. He’s known for his cool, calculating precision while performing and his display has been described as ‘controlled mayhem’”.

Hollywood Star bound for Warbirds

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is bringing a significant aircraft to Wanaka next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The UK-based Messerschmitt Bf 109 will take part in a number of aerial displays, alongside it’s Battle of Britain nemesis, the Spitfire.

There are only a handful of these magnificent aircraft still flying today and it will be 20 years since a Me 109 has flown in New Zealand. The last time was also at Warbirds Over Wanaka in 1996 when airshow founder Sir Tim Wallis brought one out. 

Warbirds Over Wanaka could not have brought the Me 109 to Wanaka without the generous support of companies like Stevens Kitchenwares and Hamburg Sud shipping.

The Me 109 holds the record for being the most produced fighter aircraft of all time with a total of 33,000 built. There are quite a few still in museums around the world but only a handful are still flying.

This ME 109 is something of a movie star, having flown in the 1968 “Battle of Britain” movie and then 20 years later starring alongside Tom Cruise in "Valkyrie”. The aircraft is owned by the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC) based at Duxford in England. It will be piloted in Wanaka by ARC owner John Romain. John is one of the UK’s top Warbird pilots with many hours flying both the Me 109 and Spitfires.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust is keen to use the visit of the Me 109 to further the Trust’s mission “to educate through the celebration and promotion of aviation past and present”. Organisers will be including the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in the airshow’s free schools programme.

Pilatus Partnership

A major new Partner has been announced for the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow at Easter 2016.  

The Swiss-based Pilatus Aircraft Ltd Company has joined Warbirds Over Wanaka as a Principal Partner.  The company is investing in a new enclosure and offering at this year’s show that will be known as the Pilatus Titanium Pass enclosure.

Pilatus is delighted to be associated with such an internationally-renowned airshow. Pilatus has attended the last two Warbirds Over Wanaka events and “have enjoyed the experience such a unique location brings to an airshow. We feel there’s a good fit between the quality that Pilatus Aircraft stands for and this airshow and that’s why we have decided to invest in the show."

The new Pilatus Titanium Pass enclosure will not only be a different offering, but also a superior hosting environment to anything WOW has been able to offer in terms of hospitality before. 

Pilatus Titanium Pass tickets are restricted to 100 on the Saturday and Sunday of the airshow. The Saturday is already sold out and the Sunday has one seat remaining.

Guns Armed

Visitors to the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow next Easter will be treated to a display which has never been performed at any other airshow in the world.  

Auckland-based pilot Liz Needham will be at the controls of a P-40 Kittyhawk aircraft as she strafes the airfield with six x .50 calibre machine guns.  The display was first performed at Warbirds Over Wanaka by Garth Hogan in 2008 followed by Frank Parker. Liz Needham, who is married to Frank, then performed the display in 2012.

The P-40 aircraft was restored some years earlier by Garth Hogan and Charles Darby and the guns were later fitted by Pioneer Aero.  All they had to do was fit the guns and connect them electrically and they worked, all of the cockpit detail and plumbing and wiring for them was already fitted.

There is no other airshow in the world to have a P-40 firing guns. From the pilot’s point of view, firing the guns is a separate display to flying the aircraft. We had a special ‘live firing’ of the guns on the ground for the Gold Pass stand for Sir Tim Wallis in 2012.

Liz says the first time she fired the guns was an experience she will never forget.  From the cockpit the sound of the guns going off is unexpectedly loud and harsh and the first time it actually gave her a fright. But you soon get stuck into the firing. Liz says It’s a powerful feeling to be the most heavily armed girl in a P-40 in the world.

Along with flying the P-40 Liz is one of only two female Spitfire pilots in the world. 

Warbirds Over Wanaka owes a debt of gratitude to the New Zealand Warbirds Association for making the P-40 guns a reality for the 2016 show.  The spent shells will be collected and signed by Liz and Frank and will then be offered for sale to airshow visitors raising funds for the Warbirds Association and the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust.

In another first at Warbirds Over Wanaka, Bill and Robyn Reid’s Avro Anson aircraft will perform a bomb drop as part of its display.

Motorsport champion joins kiwi legends to raise funds for charity

Australian and NZ Championship winner Jim Richards will attend the annual CHEMZ Gathering of Geezers Charitable dinner on 12th November at Wanaka’s Warbirds & Wheels museum.
Celebrating the “best-of-the-best’ Kiwi motorsport legends, the ‘Geezers’ event brings New Zealand motorsport heroes together with motoring enthusiasts for an evening of fun, story-telling and reminiscing.
Both the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust and the Upper Clutha Children’s Medical Trust will benefit from the event. 
Hosted by co-host of Sky Sports’ main motor sport programme, Stephen McIvor, this years ‘Geezers’ includes for the first time Australian-based Jim Richards, winner of numerous NZ and Australian Championships and multi time winner of the “The Great Race”....The Bathhurst 1000.

A Geezer is a retired legend of motorsport who has won a major NZ title, its equivalent, or a world title across any discipline, from single seaters and rally to saloon, race boats, drag racing, speedway and bikes or someone who has made an outstanding contribution to NZ Motorsport in another arena such as administration or media.

Gate Guardian Wanaka Airport:

Wanaka’s long association with Warbird aircraft is being celebrated with the installation of an aircraft on a pole at Wanaka Airport .  

An ex-RNZAF Aermacchi MB-339CB trainer aircraft has been lifted into place on the pole outside the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction at the entrance to the airport by the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust.

Many airports around the world, especially air force bases, have aircraft on poles at the entrance, known as “Gate Guardians”.

It’s fitting to have a Warbird at the entrance to the airport given Wanaka’s reputation of staging one of the world’s best Warbirds Airshows every two years since 1988. The installation of the aircraft has been something of a community project with local firms Deane Fluit Builders, Allied Concrete, Placemakers, Maungatua Contracting, Select Engineering, Wilton Joubert, Warbirds and Wheels, Twenty24, Wanaka Signs, Aspiring Cranes, the QLDC and the Queenstown Airport Company doing their bit to make it happen.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force purchased a total of 18 Aermacchi MB-339CB trainer aircraft from the manufacturer in Italy. They were operated by No. 14 Squadron based at Ohakea between 1991-2001. The Aermacchi’s replaced the Strikemasters as trainer aircraft for the RNZAF A4 Skyhawk fleet.

In 2001 the Aermacchi’s were retired along with the Skyhawks following the decision by the Government of the day for the New Zealand Air Force to no longer have air combat capability.

Of the 18 Aermacchi’s purchased, 9 were sold to Draken International, a US-based private defence contractor. The remaining trainers were given to museums around New Zealand.

Martin Jetpack – Public Flight Displays

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow and Martin Aircraft Company Limited (Martin Aircraft) are pleased to announce that Martin Aircraft will be conducting the first public flight displays at next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

This announcement is the first in a series of public flight displays in which the company will demonstrate the world's first practical personal jetpack, with potential usage spanning search and rescue, military, recreational and commercial applications.

Martin Aircraft is working on a global flight demonstration program and is currently in discussions with a number of Civil Aviation Authorities/Federal Agencies and Flight Display Committees (for Air Shows) to enable the Martin Jetpack to conduct flights in other regulatory jurisdictions. The company has been able to advance these discussions as a result of achieving a number of key technical milestones as detailed in the capability roadmap.

Martin Aircraft says it will provide an opportunity for New Zealanders and International visitors to see firsthand the flight characteristics and unique operational capabilities that the Martin Jetpack has over traditional aircraft such as the helicopters.

Warbirds Over Wanaka is delighted to have the opportunity to present the New Zealand designed Martin Jetpack to Kiwi and the International public at our 2016 Airshow. As it has recently had outstanding acceptance in Europe and Asia, we believe the Jetpack has the potential to become a significant international export earner for New Zealand. The simulator was last seen at our Airshow in 2012 and since then the Martin Jetpack has made many advances. 

Titanium Passes Fly Out The Door

The new luxury Titanium ticket being offered at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow for the first time next year has proved a huge hit, with all 100 Titanium tickets for the Saturday having sold out and only a handful remaining for the Sunday.

Our Gold Pass remains our top end three-day pass but demand for a one-day version led to the development of the Titanium Pass. Tickets are restricted to 100 each day with superior furnishings and viewing area and there will be top-end catering throughout the day, along with some top regional wines. Titanium pass holders will also receive a number of other exclusive benefits.

It also reaffirms that Warbirds Over Wanaka remains one of New Zealand’s must-do events not just for Kiwis but also for international visitors, particularly from Australia. We have a record number of tour groups selling tickets in Australia this time round, meaning that once again thousands of Australians will be coming to our event. 

Most of these visitors do not just come to Warbirds, they’re booked on tours which take them around the South Island. This is just another example of how far reaching the benefits of our event are to the wider New Zealand economy.

Wanaka Airport named NZ Regional Airport of the Year
Wanaka Airport was named BECA Regional Airport of the Year at the 2015 New Zealand Airports conference in Taupo.
The accolade recognises Wanaka Airport’s work in facilitating the successful completion of NASA’s inaugural mid-latitude southern hemisphere super pressure balloon launch from Wanaka in March.
NZ Airports Association CEO Kevin Ward said: “Led by Wanaka Airport Manager, Ralph Fegan, this one project has generated multiple positives including the significant economic and tourism benefits for the region and secured an ongoing role in the NASA balloon launch programme.”
Mr Fegan accepted the award and said "that the success of NASA’s visit was made possible by great teamwork and a hugely supportive local community base. It was a real privilege to work alongside NASA and the Columbia Scientific Space Balloon Facility and I thank them for choosing Wanaka Airport.  There was a lot of collaboration required locally and nationally to get this project off the ground."
“NASA was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the region and the hospitality of the airport operators and local community so we’re delighted that they’re coming back next year.” NASA will return in 2016 and is planning to launch its first scientific research payload on the massive super pressure balloon in April.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Vanessa Van Uden said “The project has brought significant economic benefits to both Wanaka and New Zealand with at least US$1.25 million injected directly into the regional and national economy this year.  It has also demonstrated our commitment to Wanaka’s community’s vision which is to bring benefits to the district by attracting economic investment and innovative businesses."
“Thanks to a successful launch, Wanaka Airport is now part of a select global group of NASA test sites located in the US, Sweden, Australia and Antarctica and we’ve formed a strong working relationship with one of the world’s most internationally recognised organisations.”
Wanaka Airport is a Queenstown Lakes District Council-owned facility which is contracted to Queenstown Airport Corporation to manage. 
Photo caption: 
Ralph Fegan, Wanaka Airport Operations Manager, giving his acceptance speech

NASA at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2016

Visitors to next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow will have the chance to learn first-hand a lot more about NASA’s scientific ballooning programme.

A team from NASA is planning to be in Wanaka for the launch of a second huge scientific research balloon just four days after the airshow.

NASA is scheduled to exhibit in one of the hangars at Wanaka Airport and this facility will be open at times during the airshow for the general public to check out the gear required for the launch and to chat with NASA scientists.

Visitors to the airshow may wish to stay on for a few days to hopefully see the balloon launched. At this early planning stage, the launch is scheduled for no earlier than April 1st, 2016.

Dwayne Orr, from NASA says they enjoy any opportunity to meet with members of the public to inform them about their work. They've heard lots about Warbirds Over Wanaka and are looking forward to working with their organising team and getting involved with a display and information sessions.


Once again the Roaring Forties Team will join us at WOW with their brilliant aerobatics display. In RNZAF service as a pilot trainer for more than three decades, the Harvard was first flown in 1937. Known as the Harvard in the British Commonwealth, T-6 Texan in the USAF and SNJ by the US Navy, over 21,000 examples were built. The Harvard was used as the primary trainer for most Commonwealth aircrew during WWII, after they had flown solo in the Tiger Moth. Fully aerobatic, it was a delight to fly, but not too easy for the novice who one day would move onto single seat fighter aircraft.


Aviation enthusiasts are being given the opportunity to turn old aircraft parts into cash at next year’s Airshow. Organisers have announced the launch of WOWMart - a market place for people to sell second hand aircraft parts on the Saturday and Sunday of the Airshow.

Organisers will receive 10% of all sales with the proceeds earmarked for new Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships.

It’s a win-win really because not only will it be an opportunity for people to get rid of unwanted aircraft parts for some cash but at the same time they’ll be helping others complete aircraft projects and helping young people get into aviation.

WOWMart has been organised in association with local flight training and scenic flight company Classic Flights. All items will be displayed in the Classic Flights hangar at Wanaka Airport and can be dropped off in the week leading up to the airshow.

People wishing to sell items at WOWMart will need to register via the Warbirds Over Wanaka website


Curtiss P40N and P40E Kittyhawks

At next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow two Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks will take part in an historic re-enactment of attacks on shipping and airfields in the Soloman Islands.

The Auckland based P-40N Kittyhawk Currawong is the single engine, single seat, all metal fighter and ground attack aircraft which first flew in 1938. It was used by the Airforces of twenty eight nations, including the Royal New Zealand Airforce. A total of 13,738 P-40 aircraft were built during the Second World War.

Today only a handful remain flying around the world, this aircraft belonged to the Royal Australian Airforce. It was recovered from the Northern Coast of New Guinea where it had been abandoned at the end of the Second World War. After changing hands several times restoration started in 1996. Work was completed three years later and the P-40 made its first public debut flight in 2000.

The second Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk came down under for the RNZAF in 1942. Withdrawn from use in 1945 it was rebuilt for flight in 1997 at Whenuapai. Shipped to England in 1999 it returned to New Zealand in 2003 and was converted to a two-seater aircraft.

Three hundred and one P-40s were allocated to the RNZAF under Lend Lease, for use in the Pacific Theatre, although four of these were lost in transit. The aircraft soon proved to be successful in air combat against the Japanese between 1942 and 1944. The P-40 pilots claimed one hundred aerial victories, whilst losing twenty in combat.

The overwhelming majority of RNZAF victories were scored against Japanese A6M Zeros and Aicha D3A ‘Val’ dive bombers. Geoff Fisken was the highest scoring British Commonwealth ace in the Pacific. The New Zealand pilot shot down six aircraft, three of them while flying a P-40 Kittyhawk.

From late 1943 and 1944 the RNZAF  P-40s were increasingly used against ground targets, including the innovative use of naval depth charges as improvised high capacity bombers. In late 1944 the P-40s returned to New Zealand as advanced fighter trainers and were replaced by F4U Corsairs.

Grand Champion World War II aircraft

A stalwart of Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has won a prestigious award for the restoration of a de Havilland Mosquito aircraft.

Warren Denholm and his team from Avspecs Ltd, based in Auckland, along with American owner Jerry Yegan, took out the Grand Champion World War II aircraft at the AirVenture Awards announced at Oshkosh in the US.

The Mosquito restoration was completed in late 2012. Soon afterwards the aircraft left for its new home in the United States.

Warren and his team are now working on a second Mosquito, meanwhile, Warren is looking forward to attending Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow in March 2016. Warren has attended every WOW Airshow since the very first event in 1988.

2016 GHOSTS Aviation Calendar

The Thirty-Sixth edition of the Ultimate Aviation Calendar, GHOSTS, A TIME REMEMBERED-2016, is now available for pre-order from Warbirds & Wheels, Wanaka Airport.

Featuring magnificent air-to-air colour photographs of combat aircraft in World War II, it is the work of US-based master aviation photographer Philip Makanna. Each image is set in stunning locations around the world, including Wanaka and is suitable for framing.

Warbirds & Wheels is selling the calendar via pre-sale, with the cost at $29.95 pick up from Warbirds & Wheels (includes a FREE copy of the 2015 GHOSTS Calendar, valid for pick-up only).

Phil Makanna is a world-class aviation photographer and the GHOSTS Calendar is known worldwide for its incredible imagery.

Sport Aircraft - STOL Competition

A new competition has been announced for the Airshow 2016 which involves pilots showing off their short take-off and landing (STOL) abilities.  The main feature of STOL aircraft is the ability to land on short runways and in other tricky situations such as river beds and beaches.

While these aircraft are reasonably common around New Zealand it’s not often that the public get to see the pilots showing off their skills close up, as these aircraft use little runway to stop and take off from.  STOL competitions are held in New Zealand but they are usually only seen by a few spectators.

The majority of STOL aircraft are part of the Sport Aircraft class and the addition of the STOL competition next year is another move towards having a much bigger Sport Aircraft component at the airshow as it is one of the fastest growing areas of aviation. This is mainly due to less red tape to fly one of these aircraft and less money needed to own one.

The public may also check out the Sport Aircraft on the ground as well as related exhibits in a dedicated hangar.  The Sport Aircraft Association of New Zealand is once again backing Warbirds Over Wanaka and has welcomed the opportunity for owners of these machines to be present at the airshow.

All Sport Aircraft owners are encouraged to register at to be part of next year’s event. 


Commentary Team Announced

Warbird pilot and former TVNZ weatherman, Jim Hickey has been named to lead the Bose Commentary Team alongside Grant Stewart and Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson.  Jim first attended the iconic Wanaka event in 1996. Two years later he joined the commentary team and stayed in that role until 2012. 

“I’m very excited about being involved with Warbirds Over Wanaka once again. It’s one of the great Warbirds airshows in the world and being part of the commentary team is an honour for me. I believe the role of the commentary team is to complement what’s happening in the sky. An airshow is all about the aircraft and the pilots and our job is to relate the history and stories around these magnificent men and their flying machines.”

Grant is a Queenstown-based pilot who has been involved with Warbirds Over Wanaka for many years while Ferg is a popular local broadcaster and supporter of the event.

Bose is onboard as sponsor of our commentary team. Bose is one of the world’s great audio companies and have been at the last few airshows displaying their range of aviation headsets.  Warbirds Over Wanaka wouldn’t be the hugely successful event it is without the support of companies like Bose.



Warbirds and Wheels a Century of Trucking

Warbirds Over Wanaka will next year be celebrating 100 years of trucking and is inviting truck owners from all over New Zealand to register. 

The ‘Warbirds and Wheels Century of Trucking’  display will be one of the feature ground exhibits.  Warbirds Over Wanaka has a fine tradition of celebrating great aircraft along with motorised vehicles.

In 2012 we had Fords Through the Ages and we have room for up to 50 trucks from 1916 to the most modern trucks, hopefully with a good representation of trucks across the hundred years.

The Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction at Wanaka Airport has come onboard as naming sponsor of the truck display with their own line-up of over 30 classic cars and trucks being world class.  Over the past few years a number of truck rallies have stopped at Warbirds and Wheels to check out the displays. 

Truck owners wishing to display should register on 03 443 8619 or


Call for Amphibian Aircraft

A spectacular mass landing of amphibious aircraft on Lake Wanaka is being planned as part of next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. 

Organisers were keen to hear from any owners of these aircraft that would like to be part of what is believed to be a first for New Zealand, general manager Ed Taylor said.

The display is being planned as part of the airshow’s second free public event on the Wanaka lakefront, on the afternoon of Friday, March 25th next year.  Friday is the ‘practice day’ at what will be the fifteenth Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

WOW was pleased by the response to the first lakeside ‘mini airshow’ held as part of the 2014 airshow. Crowd estimates were put at 7,000 people. There were people picnicking all along the beach and watching from upstairs bars and businesses in Wanaka and any vantage point.

The theme last year was the role aviation played in WWI. For 2016 we want to celebrate amphibian aircraft. The centre piece of the display will be the stunning Catalina Flying Boat (ZK-PBY) which has recently undergone a major refurbishment.

The Catalina hasn’t been seen at an airshow for a number of years now and we are rapt to have this beautiful aircraft make her first major public outing since the restoration, here in Wanaka, especially having her land on the lake.

It’s hoped the Catalina will be flanked on either side by numerous other amphibious aircraft which will land on the lake at the same time. We already have a number of amphibious aircraft lined up for the display but would love to hear from any other owners who would like to be considered for the event.

Along with the aircraft landing on the lake they hope to have other displays which will “light up the sky". Wanaka Mitre 10 has already agreed to support this event again by providing a large marquee for local community groups from which to operate fundraising food stalls.


Up, Up and Away! NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon is Hoping to Break Records

Residents in the Southern Hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa, may catch a glimpse of a large NASA heavy-lift scientific balloon as it travels around the globe on a potentially rec