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WOW Finalists in NZAEP Awards

One of New Zealand’s largest and longest running events has been named as a finalist in the New Zealand Association of Event Professionals Awards.

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has been named as a finalist in the ‘Best New Zealand Owned Major Event’ category alongside five other finalists including the Audi Quattro Winter Games, Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and the World of Wearable Arts Show.

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by your peers. Being recognised in this way by other event professionals is very satisfying” says Warbirds Event Manager, Mandy Deans.

“Warbirds is an iconic New Zealand event which remains hugely popular more than 25 years after the first Airshow. We work hard to make sure we put on an event of international standards and get lots of very positive feedback from the thousands of visitors we attract from overseas,” says Mandy.

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is held at Wanaka Airport every second year and attracts around 50,000 people over three days. The next airshow will be held at Easter in 2016 (March 25, 26, 27).

The NZAEP Event Awards have been re-launched this year with a new format to recognise emerging leaders in the events industry and events that have positively impacted New Zealand, regional or local communities.

Head judge and former Rugby World Cup 2011 chief Martin Snedden, says the judging panel was impressed with the number of high calibre entries submitted.

“The applications were incredibly diverse, from small scale community-led initiatives to events that have drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors. But they all share one common feature – a clever idea that has been executed exceptionally well.

“It is exciting to see how many passionate, resilient and talented event professionals there are in New Zealand.”

More than 70 entries from across the country were received for nine different categories.The winners of the NZAEP Event Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Christchurch’s Air Force Museum on Wednesday, 6 August.

WOW Official DVD and Book Launch

Wanaka:  “Putting together the official record of the 2014 Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow presented me with a major problem” says Upper Clutha writer Jill Herron. 

Jill says the problem was not which photographs to include in the book, but rather which ones to leave out. “With digital photography these days it’s easy for our official photographers to snap off hundreds of images over the three days. I ended up having to sift through a few thousand pictures before narrowing down my final selection to just 158”.

Jill says the fact there were several brand new events at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2014, such as the #GigatownWanaka Jet Racing, sport aircraft and the WWI commemoration on the lakefront, also means the book has a lot more variety in it this year.

“Another great thing about the book is that the majority of the images have not been published before. There are some wonderful pictures taken by professional photographers who have access to areas of the airshow not open to the public, so they get some amazing shots,” says Jill.

“For the first time in a long time the book has been a totally local effort” says Warbirds Over Wanaka Event Manager, Mandy Deans. “Jill wrote the words and chose the photographs, Anna Entwisle from AE Design in Cromwell did the layout and the book was published by ODT Print in Alexandra.”

The local theme continued with the official 2014 Warbirds Over Wanaka DVD.

Wanaka TV’s Antony Hansen realised a long held dream to be given the job of producing the video record of what is recognised as one of the top four Warbirds airshows in the world.

“I’ve been coming to Warbirds for years and have been part of the media team shooting stills for the past eight airshows. But to finally be asked to shoot the official DVD was the icing on the cake.”

“It was a huge team effort over the three days to get all the footage we needed and we’re rapt with the final product. We have tried to include lots of ‘stories’ from many of the great characters involved with the event,” says Antony.

The book and DVD are available online at Copies can also be purchased at the Warbirds and Wheels retail shop at Wanaka Airport, along with Paper Plus Wanaka and Cromwell and Whitcoulls’ two Queenstown stores. The book will also be available at selected Whitcoulls stores nationwide in the next few weeks.

The next airshow is being held at Easter 2016 (March 25th, 26th, 27th)

Jurgis vs Murphy

World aerobatic champion Jurgis Kairys has decided to give four-time Bathurst V8 Supercar winner, Greg Murphy, a chance in a head-to-head clash at Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Murph will be behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Supercar when he takes on Jurgis flying a Sukhoi 29 aircraft, in a dash along the runway at Wanaka Airport at lunchtime on both Airshow days.

The Highlands Motorsport Park Lamborghini Superleggera is capable of going from 0 to 100kph in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 325kph while the Sukhoi has a similar maximum speed.

To give Murph a chance Jurgis is planning on flying upside down just to even up the contest. Murph is looking forward to being at the Airshow. “It’s been many years since I’ve been at Warbirds so I am very much looking forward to bringing all the family down, including my Dad, for what will be my perfect weekend, aircraft and cars!”

“I’m not sure how I’m going to go against Jurgis and if he wants to fly upside down that’s fine, just as long as I’m not expected to drive backwards or something.”

Murph is also looking forward to watching the #GigatownWanaka Jet Racing which is billed as “the world’s fastest motorsport”. “That is going to be something to watch. I’m bit of a speed freak but I’m glad it’s those guys flying those jets and not me,” said Greg.

When not being driven by Murph the Lamborghini will be on public display at the Airshow. The Lamborghini is normally based at Highlands Motorsport Park where people can book a ride in it around the track.

Highlands will be holding a “Festival of Speed” classic and historic event this Easter. Warbirds and Highlands are offering a combo ticket – one day at Warbirds, one day at Highlands. There has already been strong demand for this new ticket which is available online from TicketDirect for just $110.

Along with Greg Murphy, another celebrity will be out and about at Warbirds Over Wanaka – this is Shortland Street actress, Amelia Reid.

Amelia, who plays the role of receptionist Bella in the long-running TV2 soap, will be joined by actor-husband Shadon Meredith. Amelia has a family connection to Airshows. Her parents, Robyn and Bill Reid, will also be at Wanaka displaying their Avro Anson Warbird aircraft.


Vintage Car & Aircraft Auction

An upcoming auction in Wanaka of classic cars, motorcycles and aircraft has already attracted international attention. The auction is being run by Webb’s Auction House of Auckland and will be held at the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction at Wanaka Airport at 1pm on March 30.

The auction will feature up to 50 cars, motorcycles and aircraft along with associated memorabilia. A marquee will be erected at the end of the Warbirds and Wheels building to house some of the additional vehicles which will be on display in the days leading up to the auction.

“I knew there were plenty of beautiful cars and bikes in the South Island but I have still been blown away by how good these really are” says Webb’s CEO, Neil Campbell. He has been impressed by the high quality of the vehicles which have been put up. 

“We are expecting buyers from around the country and overseas to be bidding, either in person on the day, or via the internet and phones,” said Neil.

Webb’s has already been out to its extensive New Zealand and world-wide database of collectors and has had solid interest, including a couple of firm bids on items.

The cars up for sale include a 1924 3-litre Bentley (est $350,000 – $450,000), a 1935 Alvis Sports 20 (est. $220,000 – $280,000), a 1937 Packard Victoria ($270,000 - $320,000), a 1954 MG TF1250 ($35,000 - $54,000) , a 1941 Willy’s jeep ($18,000 – $22,000), a low-mileage 1948 Ford V8 pickup ($35,000 - $45,000) and a rare 1924 Rickenbacker Model C Roadster ($60,000 - $80,000). 

The Rickenbacker was bought new by a North Canterbury man and it has stayed in the province ever since. The Rickenbacker Motor Company was established in 1921 by Eddie Rickenbacker who was America’s leading fighter ace during WWI. He used his WWI 94th Fighter Squadron emblem depicting a top hat inside a ring as the emblem for his cars.

For motorsport fans a 1965 Formula 2 race car, driven by New Zealand motorsport legend Denny Hulme, is going under the hammer.

There is also an impressive line-up of motorcycles for sale including a rare 1937 OK Supreme ($60,000 - $70,000), a 1949 BSA Goldstar ($16,000 - $18,000), a 1950 Indian Roadmaster (40,000 - $65,000) a 1938 Harley Davidson Knucklehead EL ( $40,000 – $50,000) and a 1942 Harley-Davidson ($18,000 – $22,000).

Neil is also excited about having four aircraft included in the auction. “We have a Harvard T-6, a Yak-52, a Tiger Moth and a CT-4A Trainer. There’s already been interest in the Harvard and we already have a bid on the Tiger Moth which is one best examples in this country.”

The catalogue is available here or for more information visit

Visitors to the auction will get the bonus of being able to check out the beautifully restored classic cars and Warbirds on display at the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction. The attraction also boasts a retro-themed café.

“We are proud of the fact that we have one of the very best car collections in the country when it comes to quality. People come from far and wide to see our Duesenberg along with the Packards and Lincolns which headline our line up” said Warbirds and Wheels Marketing Manager Ed Taylor who hopes the auction may become a much bigger annual car event.

“We thought there was a natural fit working in with New Zealand’s Premier Auction House, Webb’s. In the future we would like to think we might grow this event to make it a ‘must-do’ car event in Australasia,” said Ed.

Entry on the day will be $10 which will give visitors a catalogue plus entry to the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction. Proceeds from the day are going to the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust.




Yurgis Kairys - Lithuania

Sixty-one years old and “still powerful”, one of the world’s most innovative aerobatic pilots has just confirmed he will be performing at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Travelling to New Zealand from his home in Lithuania, Jurgis Kairys plans to perform some of the difficult manoeuvres that have helped retain his long-held position at the top of the international scene.

“If you have clear skies I will show my best manoeuvres which helped me get medals in the 2009 and 2011 World Aerobatic Freestyle Championships. Depending on your wishes we can do race with cars, formations or fly under bridges”.

Born in 1952 in Siberia, the Lithuanian national has been pushing the boundaries in aerobatics for close to forty years. He collected the first of his many international titles in Hungary in 1979 and has also won a Red Bull air race and been a member of both the Lithuanian and Soviet international aerobatic teams.

As an aeronautical engineer as well as a pilot, he helped develop the Sukhoi 26, 29 and 31 aerobatic aircraft. These types went on to dominate the highly competitive world of unlimited aerobatics. 

Kairys took the next step developing his own JUKA aircraft and has also invented several extremely difficult aerobatic manoeuvres. He was the first person to successfully perform the ‘Cobra’ manoeuvre in a propeller-driven aircraft and the first to hover his aircraft like a helicopter.

His lifetime achievements were recognised by his home country when he received the Sports Glory Commodore Cross from the Lithuanian Prime Minister at a special ceremony in 2012.

“Without a doubt, one of the World’s best aerobatic pilots, we are privileged to have Yurgis back in New Zealand” said Mandy Deans, Event Manager.

Previous visits down under, the last of which was to Warbirds Over Wanaka in 2010, earned him a considerable following, something he relishes and hopes to build on. 

“New Zealand is my good friends country. Warm hello to my friends and spectators. I am full of power and ready to fly.”





Douglas C3 - C-47

Representing some truly unique Kiwi history, is a DC-3 that is the only surviving RNZAF World War II veteran aircraft still operating today in a front-line service.ZK-AWP was built in 1945 at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. The Oklahoma City factory was constructed to cope with wartime production in 1941, immediately post Pearl Harbour.

With a wing span of 29m, length of 20m and height of almost 4.5m and powered by two Pratt and Whitney R-1830-92 engines with 1250 bhp each, it was ideally suited to military service. DC-3s operated comfortably into unpaved fields of 1000 metres or sometimes less, carrying a standard load of three tons and featuring a range of 1200 nautical miles.

With its delivery crew ZK-AWP left its "birthplace" at Oklahoma City, USA in April 1945 - on the day the Red Army overran the German High Command in Berlin - and flew to Hamilton, New Zealand.  From May that year it became RNZAF Dakota NZ3543 and was assigned to 41 Squadron RNZAF until 1952.

The aircraft's time in the military was interesting and varied. In Asia it was used for supply drops and immediately post-war for ferrying servicemen home to New Zealand.

In 1952 it was handed over as NZ3543 at Whenuapai to New Zealand National Airways Corporation. It entered service on the 2nd of April 1953, clocking up 10 hours and 20 minutes on the first day.

The aircraft continued in passenger flights for some years after being sold to service Samoa and is still remembered with some fondness in the Pacific.  ZK-AWP caused some excitement when it transited through Nadi, Fiji in December last year, some forty years later.

Sold to Southern Air Super Ltd in 1973, the machine was converted into a top-dresser.

In this role, considered by many to be its definitive role in New Zealand,  it completed 6722 hours of strenuous flying. At the end of its ag-flying days in the mid 1980’s, it was converted to a freighter for Classic Air Services and then latterly, Fieldair Freight. 

The year 2000 saw AWP placed on the international market after some 46,000 flying hours.  It joined the team at Pionair Adventures Ltd on charter work and spent many happy hours flying tours around NZ and Australia.  In June 2002 while attempting to take off in deep snow at Mt Cook (Glentanner Station) the aircraft skidded off the runway and was substantially damaged. The incident was filmed by a TVNZ film crew present on the day and made headline news that night! It was repaired by Fieldair staff on site to enable a ferry flight to Palmerston North where it was repaired and renamed "Lucille".

On the 2nd June 2004, at the request of the Crown Prince of Tonga, it left Christchurch equipped with long range fuel tanks and only 7.5 hours later landed at Fua’amotou, Kingdom of Tonga, to work with the Shore Line Group "Peau Vava’u", in partnership with Pionair, along with its sister-ship ZK-AMY.

In 2006 a violent riot broke out in the Tongan capital of Nuku'Alofa and widespread areas of the Tongan Capital were destroyed by fire and looters, including AWP's operators, Peau Vava'u's head office. Due to fears that AWP would be destroyed by the angry mob, it was locked away in its hangar and stayed safely thus for the next three years gathering dust and cobwebs.

The aircraft and hangar were purchased later by Craig Emeny from Air Chathams in New Zealand and major work was undertaken to return the machine to airworthiness.

In 2010 AWP began flying scheduled passenger services again for the wholly owned Air Chathams subsidiary, Chathams Pacific. In this role, the aircraft served the Tongan people reliably and safely until Chathams Pacific voluntarily concluded operations in March 2013.  It covered scheduled routes to the island groups of Ha'apai, Vava'u and the Niuas, flying a programme exceeding 100hr a month in the busy season.

The aircraft was then flown "home" to New Zealand in December 2013 via Fiji, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island, arriving at Auckland some 20.1 flying hours later.

Now 69 years later, it remains in commercial service and represents a very important part of Kiwi history. It remains today the last flying piston engined example of the RNZAF C-47 fleet, the last flying example of the NAC DC-3 fleet and the last flying example of the Fieldair fleet.

ZK-AWP will be available for rides at the Airshow, details to go onto the website shortly. 



The Royal Australian Air Force will be jetting across the Tasman in April in two light attack fighters, scheduled for a special appearance at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Jointly hosted by the RNZAF, the Australian Hawk 127 is mainly used as a lead-in fighter trainer, preparing crews to fly the F/A-18 Hornets. The jets are operated by an RAAF base near Newcastle and another near Perth in Western Australia.

Airshow event manager Mandy Deans said it was the first time Hawk 127s would be seen at Wanaka.

“Because of their advanced technical capabilities and huge power we are expecting a pretty spectacular display. They should be able to land here at Wanaka Airport and we are delighted the Australians have given the go-head for them to come.”

The powerful two-seater jets are around 12m long and can reach speeds of over 1200km/h. They are powered by a single Rolls Royce turbofan engine and can carry Mk 82 bombs, Sidewinder missiles and a 30mm cannon.

The Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown AO said he was pleased that RAAF could participate.

 "The Hawk 127 aircraft is an important training aircraft for our future fighter jet pilots. I am pleased that we are participating in Warbirds over Wanaka in New Zealand. Australian and New Zealand airforces have a long standing relationship and Wanaka provides another opportunity for us to cooperate with our New Zealand counterparts" Air Marshal Brown said.

The RAAF will join the RNZAF and the French Airforces at the Airshow to celebrate Warbirds Over Wanaka’s 25th Anniversary. 

Pilots confirmed for Jet Racing

A NASA astronaut who has completed six space shuttle flights has been confirmed as one of the pilots taking part in high-speed jet racing at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow next Easter.

Colonel Curtis Brown of the United States was flight commander on two of his six space missions and is also a five times Reno Jet Air Race Champion.

Alongside Curtis in the “Reno” team contesting the #GigatownWanaka Jet races will be three times Red Bull World Air Race champion, Mike Mangold.

“Jet racing is fast and exciting, both for the pilots and the spectators on the ground. Group racing around a 14-kilometre closed course yields speeds over 700kph, with maximum G-forces in turns, and the challenges of passing. We’ve heard a lot about Warbirds Over Wanaka and very much want to be a part of it,” Mr Mangold said.

This is the first time that both of these ‘rock stars’ of American jet air racing will be competing alongside each other outside the USA, according to airshow general manager, Ed Taylor.

The third member of the team is John ‘Johnny Rocket’ Kokshoorn who lives in Australia but has previously competed at the world-famous Reno Jet Air Races. John completed his Reno race training under Curtis Brown, Mr Taylor said.

The three visiting pilots will be flying Aero L-29 jets, one of which arrived at Wanaka last week to be permanently based in the Southern Lakes area. The aircraft is operated by Wanaka-based XXAviation which now has three Warbird aircraft available for leisure flights.

The international team will be taking on a New Zealand team comprised of seasoned jet pilots Brett Emeny, Paul ‘Huggy’ Hughan and Peter Vause.

Brett Emeny has been flying for nearly 40 years and will be competing in his own Vampire. Paul Hughan will also be flying a Vampire while Peter Vause will be piloting his Aero L39.

Mr Mangold said he and his colleagues saw the event as a chance to promote jet racing outside the United States. “Many people from New Zealand and Australia have travelled to Reno for the air races over the years but most have not, so to have it happening right there in Wanaka gives them a chance to see us in action on their own patch."

“The event also gives us the opportunity to pit our skills against some very fine New Zealand Jet pilots, so all-in-all it’s going to be a great experience for everyone – most of all the spectators,” says Mike.

Mr Taylor said there had been a boost in ticket sales since the announcement of the #GigatownWanaka Jet event, particularly from Australians and North Islanders.

“While this event is attracting national and international interest it wouldn’t be happening if a group of local Wanaka people hadn’t got in behind it,” says Ed.

The naming rights sponsor is #GigatownWanaka which is the group behind the bid by Wanaka to win the Chorus-sponsored competition which would give it the fastest internet access of any city or town in the Southern Hemisphere.

“#GigatownWanaka is already way out in front in the competition and we’re thrilled they’ve chosen Warbirds Over Wanaka as another way for them to get even more support for the cause.”

The other local sponsors who are helping out with the event are Skydive Wanaka and Maungatua Contracting.



French Confirm Visit

A delegation of French military officials, along with a specialist surveillance aircraft, will be arriving in Wanaka next Easter jointly hosted by the RNZAF and Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The French will be bringing a CASA CN-235-300 aircraft (mini Hercules) which will be open for the public to view throughout the three days of the event. Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor said it would be the first time Wanaka had hosted French military. “The aircraft, crew and high-ranking officials will add real international flair to the show and we are absolutely delighted that the Armee de L’Aire (French Air Force) have accepted our invitation to Central Otago.”

The CASA is a medium-range twin-turbo-prop aircraft developed jointly between CASA in Spain and IPTN in Indonesia as a regional airliner and military transporter, he said. Amongst its military roles are maritime patrol, surveillance and troop transport.

“Airshow visitors always love the chance to get inside military aircraft and the CASA will be a unique opportunity for many at Wanaka 2014. This is a sophisticated tactical aircraft, something the public doesn’t generally get a chance to get close to.”

The Royal New Zealand Air Force will help host their French counterparts during the visit.

Photo courtesy Gavin Conroy.


#GigatownWanaka Jets

Six high-powered jet aircraft - some piloted by Reno Air Race and World Champs – will be racing around a course marked by giant inflatable pylons at Wanaka Airport next Easter.

Believed to be a first time outside the USA, the high-speed racing will be part of the entertainment at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International 2014 Airshow. 

The ‘#GigatownWanaka Jets’ will feature three Reno pilots challenging three from New Zealand in the world’s fastest motorsport.  The final selection of pilots will be released soon, airshow general manager, Ed Taylor, said.

The home of jet racing is the Reno Air Race Championships in the United States. Three of Reno’s most successful pilots will be part of the international team, including multiple Reno champions and a three-times Red Bull World Champion. 

The New Zealand team has all but been confirmed and features three of this country’s most experienced aviators, led by Taranaki-based warbird, helicopter and aerobatic pilot Brett Emeny.

For maximum spectator enjoyment, the racing had been based on the Reno format where aircraft race around pylons, rather than the Red Bull Air Races which are based on timed runs, Mr Taylor said.

The #GigatownWanaka Jets will see the six pilots race side-by-side over an aerial ‘race track’. On the home straight the aircraft would pass in front of the crowd at speeds of around 640kmph.

The aircraft being used are three Aero L-29s, two De Havilland Vampires and an Aero L-39. Practise runs would be held during the week preceding the airshow, which begins on April 18th.

Mr Taylor said jet aircraft were always a big favourite with the airshow crowd. “To have six of them racing around pylons will be something special to see. The final race track is being set and the aircraft will be in sight for the majority of each lap.”

“It’s going to be extremely fast with plenty of passing action. The crowd will be kept up to date with everything that’s going on by a guest commentator. We will also have communication with some of the pilots with their comments being relayed to the crowd,” he said.

The Ultimate Classic Weekend

One of New Zealand’s longest running, iconic events is teaming up with a brand new event to offer what’s believed to be a world first.

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow and the nearby Highlands Motorsport Park have announced they’re working on a joint ticket for their events next Easter.

The new combo ticket will allow people to have one day at Warbirds Over Wanaka and one day at the ‘Highlands Revival’ Easter motor racing festival. Ticket buyers will be able to choose which day they go to which event.

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor expects the ticket to be especially popular with people in the North Island and Australia. “We know that for many people Warbirds has been on their bucket list for years. With the added incentive of a second day at New Zealand’s newest and most exciting motor racing track it becomes a bit of a no-brainer. It just makes this area the place to be next Easter,” says Ed.

Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn is excited about working in with such an iconic event as Warbirds Over Wanaka. “There’s nowhere else in the world that I know of where you can spend a day watching some of the great classic fighter aircraft and then shoot 20 minutes down the road the next day to see some of the world’s greatest classic racing cars in action.”

Tony says they will have some stunning examples of motor racing history in action over the Easter weekend. “But it won’t just be all about the racing. It’ll be a celebration of classic motor racing cars, the drivers and everything else that goes with the sport. We’re hoping to create a real festival-type atmosphere.”

Tony says the plan is that it will become one of the ‘must-do’ events on the New Zealand motorsport calendar. Throw in a fantastic international event like Warbirds Over Wanaka and it’s a pretty magic offering,” says Tony.

Warbirds Over Wanaka and Highlands Motorsport Park are currently working on the final details of the new combo ticket with TicketDirect and hope to have it available for purchase shortly.

The Ultimate Combo Ticket is now on sale here.


Fund Raising Dinner a Huge Success

A celebration of New Zealand motorsport champions has raised significant funds for two local trusts. The ‘Chemz Gathering of Geezers’ dinner at the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction, Wanaka Airport, on November 7 raised a total of $40,000 for the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust (WOWCT) and the Upper Clutha Children’s Medical Trust (UCCMT).

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager and a co-organiser of the dinner, Ed Taylor, says they were overwhelmed by the generosity of guests on the night and he has confirmed they are already looking at another dinner next year. “They really opened up their wallets when it came to the charity auction. Others made spontaneous cash donations,” says Ed. “We had budgeted to make a modest profit from selling tables and sponsorship so to take so much more on the night was a real bonus.”

Ed says the Warbirds Over Wanaka Trust has a history of giving money to local community groups which help out at the airshow. “However, this is the first time since the Trust took over the airshow in 2006 that we have organised a separate event to raise funds for the Warbirds Trust and for another great local cause like the Upper Clutha Children’s Medical Trust.”

“I would just like to thank everyone involved. The Geezers, our sponsors, those people from around the country who bought tickets, the Warbirds team who put months of effort into organising this event and the Children’s Medical Trust guys who helped out on the night.”

Chairperson of the Upper Clutha Children’s Medical Trust Peter Wilson says they are thrilled with the donation of $10,000 which they have received from the proceeds. “This is a really significant amount of money which will go a long way towards easing the financial burden many local families find themselves facing when they have sick children needing specialist medical treatment.”

“All our team who helped out on the night thought it was a marvellous evening and were blown away by the generosity of those in the crowd, the majority of who were from outside the region.”

Lake Wanaka Tourism General Manager James Helmore has applauded the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust for organising the dinner. “It was great because it was a national event with the majority of those attending travelling to the region for the occasion. I also understand many of the guests stayed on in Wanaka and attended the motor racing at Cromwell on the weekend.”

“Also it enabled the trust to raise funds to help put on the next Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow which also has a major economic impact on this region,” says James.

Another to sing the praises of the event was veteran motoring journalist and broadcaster Allan Dick, who was MC on the night. “In 50 years of writing about motorsport, I have never experienced anything like it. In a lifetime of attending events, this was the greatest ever.”

“To get such a mix of legends from across all facets of motorsport was one thing, but to hear them giving up secret stories from their private lives was pure gold. It was a privilege to be MC that night and an honour to have just been there. A truly amazing event — one that I shall never forget,” says Allan.

Ed Taylor says they have already had verbal confirmations for almost half of the tables for another ‘Geezers’ dinner next year plus people have already offered some stunning charity auction items.

“Plus many of our sponsors, including our naming rights sponsor Chemz, have indicated they want to be involved again. It seems like we don’t have much choice but to organise another next year,” says Ed.

WWI Commemoration Lakeside

Wanaka: At least six vintage aircraft are now expected to take part in a unique WWI centenary event over the Wanaka lakefront next Easter.

A grant from the Lotteries Commission WWI Commemoration Fund has enabled organisers to increase the scale of the free public event, which is being planned as part of the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

WWI event co-ordinator, Ed Taylor, said the extra funding would allow the flying display to fully illustrate to the public what aviation was all about in WWI. It was hoped a dog fight would be re-enacted between aircraft sporting allied and enemy colours.

“WWI broke out not long after the invention of aircraft so at the start of the war it was very basic stuff – little planes fluttering across to count heads in enemy trenches. Then the pilots started shooting at each other with pistols, and eventually mounted machine guns evolved.”

Mr Taylor said designers and engineers scrambled to improve aircraft as the war progressed, fast-tracking the development of aviation in general. Around 1000 New Zealand pilots flew in the conflict alongside their British counterparts, in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC preceded the RAF which was established in 1918 at the end of the war. “There was a high casualty rate. These types of aircraft don’t fly well if there is a bit of adverse weather about.”

The commemoration would begin at 4.30pm on Friday, April 18, with Sara Randle from the Vintage Aviator fighter collection in Masterton presenting a special commentary from a stage on Pembroke Park. Search lights, music and re-enactors would add authenticity to the event and refreshments would be available nearby, he said.

“We hope families and individuals from across the region will come and join in. This is a tribute to those aviators who took a step into the unknown and for us it’s an exciting first in being able to bring the airshow right into town."


New Sport Aircraft display

An Airborne Trike, a Team Rocket and a homebuilt Murphy Rebel are three of around 25 sport aircraft heading to Wanaka next Easter, but organisers of the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow are looking for more.

Microlights, ultralights, experimental aircraft, replicas and others were being sought as part of an aim to show people how inexpensive it can be to enter the world of aviation for work or pleasure, event manager Mandy Deans said.

“We have about 25 sport aircraft registered already, but we’d love to have up to 100. It is a really interesting sector, fantastic for entry-level aviation, full of Kiwi ingenuity and easy to get into. Sport aircraft are a lot of fun.”

A hangar would be dedicated to the widely variant types and demonstrations would show building techniques for homebuilt aircraft she said. Suppliers of parts would be displaying the tiny engines and components used by the aircraft and experts would be available to discuss the sport with visitors. 

Ms Deans said a flying display of an array of sport aircraft was also scheduled into the main programme of the three day event. Potential pilots would have an opportunity to take rides and possibly fly some of the machines at a special ‘Rides Day’ on the Monday following the airshow.

“The idea is basically to get people into flying. Sport aviation is an entry point for potential pilots who perhaps can’t afford conventional aircraft. Some would hopefully go on to larger aircraft and eventually, if we provide a career path for them, onto warbirds.”

The airshow’s sport aviation facilitator, Graham Taylor, said people would see not only current options for construction of sport aircraft but also what the future direction will be. He said modern construction methods using wood, metal and composites was making flying relatively more affordable as well as more reliable. The range of sport aircraft available was vast, the cheapest costing around $50,000 and the most expensive up to $1M.

“There are some very quick, smart little machines around these days and you can fly them on a simple licence that’s easy to get.” He said modern sport aircraft were built light but were quite robust and safe to fly. “There is a lot more substance to them than first appears and so long as you treat them with respect and maintain them, they are reliable, safe and a lot of fun to fly.”

The initiative was being supported by both the Sport Aircraft Association and the NZ Warbirds Association. 

Ticket Sales Up 20%

Ticket sales for next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow are up by twenty percent, compared to the same period prior to the 2012 airshow, according to event manager Mandy Deans.

Ms Deans suggested more people were pre-purchasing tickets because the airshow is always kept interesting with new acts and that it boded well for a strongly supported airshow. There was no chance of tickets selling out for the Easter Holiday event as there was ample space and infrastructure for accommodating large crowds at Wanaka Airport.

“It’s great to have such strong ticket sales at this stage. The airshow is run mostly by volunteers and it’s hugely encouraging that people are supporting what we are doing here.” 

Businesses are also getting in behind the event once again with all available space for food stalls sold out six months out and with good interest from aviation and other stall holders.

Around eighty percent of the 320 volunteers who helped run the airshow in 2012, had re-registered to assist with the next airshow in six months time. Many new volunteers had answered the call but the airshow’s volunteer manager, Mo Schofield, still has room for more, Ms Deans said.

“Various clubs such as the Wanaka Bowling, Nordic Ski Association and Cromwell Rotarians will be helping also to raise funds for their groups, some with the busy ground display area.”

New ground displays would include 30 MG cars, an array of classic cars in various stages of restoration, modern high-tech Ford cars and an array of sport aircraft.

Organisers hoped interest in the event would be further boosted when a “very special” aircraft act was announced in a few weeks time.

Meanwhile, the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has welcomed the announcement of funding for the next airshow from the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s new major events fund. Warbirds Over Wanaka will receive $55,000 from the fund towards the costs of staging the 2014 airshow.

Trust General Manager Ed Taylor said the announcement was wonderful news. “It’s great to have the local community getting in behind our event in this way. At the end of the day the benefits from Warbirds are felt across the district,” said Mr Taylor.

The airshow, scheduled for April 18th, 19th and 20th, has now been running for 25 years.

Rides Day Success

The ride may be noisy, uncomfortable and horribly expensive but none of that matters, it seems, for some aircraft passengers. 

Flights being offered around Wanaka in a 70-year-old Supermarine Spitfire, have sold out seven months out from the aircraft’s scheduled visit, according to flight operator Frank Parker. The flights, costing approximately $3750 for half an hour would take place during a new ‘Rides Day’ event on Easter Monday following the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Mr Parker and his wife, Liz Needham, are both highly experienced warbird pilots. They recently started a business at Ardmore Airport near Auckland taking rides in the Spitfire, a P-40 Kittyhawk and a Harvard. It was now possible to do this, Mr Parker said, due to a law change by the Civil Aviation Authority allowing adventure tourism flights to be taken in ‘non-standard certificated aircraft’.

The Spitfire, owned by Auckland-based pilot and businessman, Doug Brooker, completed nearly 90 combat missions with three different squadrons operating over Europe during WWII.

Mr Parker said about 60% of the bookings for the Wanaka flights were from overseas visitors, many of them Australians. “Because of the cost we tend to attract the pure enthusiasts...individuals with the interest, desire and money to do this once in a lifetime experience.”

He said there were a few slots left in the Kittyhawk, at $2500 a ride. Extra flights had been scheduled for early evening after the conclusion of the airshow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but these had also already sold out in the Spitfire. A few people asked if the aircraft were replicas, Mr Parker said, but most customers tended to know a lot about the fighters.

“The enthusiasts know how many rivets are in the wing. I think the appeal is the chance to immerse yourself in a piece of history, to do what Dad or Grandad was doing 70 years ago.”

“Rides Day was a separate event to the biennial airshow, but was being facilitated by the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust”, event manager Mandy Deans said. “It was part of the airshow’s aim to encourage people into aviation careers and to try and get pilots into warbird flying. There were relatively few new warbird pilots coming into the scene at present,“ she said.

There would also be an emphasis on sport aircraft at the coming airshow, and many examples of these would be available for flights on Rides Day. “Some operators, such as Wanaka Helicopters, would offer the opportunity for passengers to take the controls during flight”, Ms Deans said. This possibility did not extend to the WWII fighters offering flights.

Passengers could choose from Tiger Moths, a Pitts Special aerobatic aircraft, a range of helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft as well as classic warbirds such as the P-40 Kittyhawk, P51-D Mustang, Harvard, Strikemaster, jets and a Yak 52.

“Some operators reported having several bookings already and some had indicated they would extend the offer to also give rides before the airshow begins on Friday April 18”, she said. 

Photo copyright Gavin Conroy.



It’s hoped one of the crowd favourites at previous Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshows will make a return for the 2014 event.

The Catalina Preservation Society is about to start a major project which involves the refurbishment of the wings on the 70-year-old aircraft. The Consolidated Catalina
PBY-5A amphibious flying boat is one of only two still flying in the Southern Hemisphere. It was recently moved into a hangar at New Plymouth where the refurbishment work will be carried out. The outer third of one of the wings had to be removed to get the aircraft into the hangar.

Society President, Lawrence Acket, says the goal has always been to have the aircraft back flying in time for Warbirds Over Wanaka 2014. The aircraft last flew in Wanaka at the 2010 Airshow.

Its last airshow appearance was at the Battle of Britain Airshow at Ardmore in 2011.

“While the goal is to have the Catalina at Wanaka it’s still too early to confirm anything, simply because of the variables which could come into play between now and then.” Lawrence says unlike a lot of other Warbird aircraft the Catalina has never undergone a full ground-up restoration. “This means essentially everything we’re dealing with is 70 years old.”

Lawrence says there’s something special about having the aircraft fly around Wanaka, especially over the lake. “For some reason it feels like the Catalina is at ‘home’ when it’s in Wanaka. Maybe it’s the lake and the mountains.”

In the meantime Lawrence says the society is keen to hear from anyone who may have the expertise and the time to help out with the wing refurbishment project. He says they’re also keen to hear from anyone who may be able to help out with funding, whether that is by way of people joining the society or simply by making a donation.

Anyone interested can visit the Society’s website or contact Lawrence by email

The New Zealand Catalina has a rich history operating around the world including Canada, Africa and northern Europe. It is the same aircraft which starred in a 1990 documentary called “The Last African Flying Boat”. The film tells the story of Frenchman Pierre Jaunet and his crew as they retrace the route flown by Britain’s Imperial Airways in the 1930s from Cairo to the Indian Ocean.

At the time Imperial Airways used Catalinas to offer the height of luxury air travel for passengers wanting to get around Africa.

The Important People - Volunteers

Working at London’s Gatwick Airport, living in Africa for twenty years and having a love of Spitfire aircraft made Wanaka woman Mo Schofield the perfect candidate for a new position at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Volunteers are now being called for to assist with the running of the event next Easter and Mo will be at the helm, managing the three to four hundred helpers. The volunteer’s manager position had been created, she said, as the international Airshow had grown and developed into a large event and responsibilities had to be spread among more people.

While her overseas experiences meant she would be well prepared for any situation, Mo also has a professional background in event management in New Zealand. Since she and her husband Dennis moved to Wanaka seven years ago she has volunteered for many local organisations and first became involved with Warbirds Over Wanaka (WOW) in 2008.

“I keep returning to WOW because it is a super environment to work in. The other volunteers share the same enthusiasm so we all enjoy working together.” 

While the airshow was still 10 months away volunteers were being asked to come forward now to enable the many roles they play, to be organised well in advance. “There are as many as forty different areas such as media, merchandising, ticketing, programme sales, looking after VIP zones and others.”

Mo, whose son, Mark, is a commercial pilot, said many retired people enjoyed being involved as well as students and groups like Air Cadets and St John.

Warbirds Over Wanaka Event Manager, Mandy Deans, said people could register their interest for volunteering through the airshow office at Wanaka airport or online at

Master Chef Wingless

A year on from the last Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow,  pilot and celebrity Chef, Simon Gault of Auckland, is still to get his aircraft airworthy again.

Simon’s Thunder Mustang suffered engine problems as he was approaching Wanaka Airport in April 2012. He was due to perform as part of the air display at the Airshow. Simon says it was fortunate the valve lifter broke in the engine as he was about to land. “It might have been a different story if it had happened earlier when I was flying over Mt Cook.”

Since last April the engine has had to be completely removed and rebuilt. “It’s been a major really and there’s still more work to do.” The engine is now back in the aircraft and Simon was in Wanaka recently and took it for a test flight.  “We’re still having oil pressure fluctuation problems so we’re now trying to resolve them.”

Once the aircraft is airworthy again it will be returned to its usual base at Ardmore Airport in Auckland. Simon says he still hopes to be able to return with his Thunder Mustang to perform at Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

“Simon’s five-eighths size replica Thunder Mustang is part of a growing movement in New Zealand towards sport aircraft as an entry point to owning an aircraft. At WOW 2014 we are encouraging owners of Warbird replicas, microlights, Kitfox, RANS, gyrocopters, Rutan designs, Tiger Moths, Tecnams and others to display at the Airshow” says Mandy Deans, Event Manager. 

The Sport Aviation Association (SAA) is supporting an organised Fly-in and they will also provide a display of partially constructed aircraft projects for public viewing and seminars on sport aircraft to promote amateur building and sport aviation to the public. SAA and WOW aim to encourage more youngsters to develop a desire to be involved in aviation. 

Aviation from the Ground Up

A search has been launched for the next generation of Warbirds pilots. Warbirds Over Wanaka wants to get people into flying so one day some of them may be flying at our Airshows.

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says they’ve had backing from the New Zealand Warbirds Association and the head of The Royal New Zealand Air Force for the initiative.

NZ Warbirds Association President, Frank Parker, says they’re always keen to support any moves which might result in more potential pilots being interested in flying the older aircraft. “A casual glance along the heavy metal flightline at most airshows is akin to the social welfare office on pension day! NZ Warbirds’ motto is ‘Keep ‘em Flying’ and we’re well aware that you need pilots to do that.”

Mr Parker says the Association has been active over recent years in trying to get new members into the pilot ranks and they hold regular training weekends. Another initiative is syndication of aircraft ownership to try to make it easier for a number of pilots to own the same Warbird.

Meanwhile, Ed Taylor says Warbirds Over Wanaka has come up with a couple of new initiatives for the next airshow at Easter 2014 which are aimed at people who are keen to try flying.

“We’re inviting sport aircraft to be at our next airshow, these include everything from gyrocopters to microlights and home-builts to replicas. We hope to have a great selection of these aircraft at Warbirds and involve them in some way in our flying display.”

This is an opportunity for people to see how affordable it can be to get into flying. 

The Sport Aircraft Association President, Bill Sisley, “also looks forward to contributing to a successful event with more youngsters developing a desire to be involved in aviation.”

Another new initiative is setting aside Easter Monday as a ‘Rides Day.’ “Local operators and visiting aircraft owners will be offering rides in all types of aircraft.” While we’re still to confirm exactly what aircraft will be available we’re hoping it will include Warbirds, Tiger Moths, microlights, Tecnams, the DC3 and the Catalina.

Ed says people are able to get more information from the Warbirds Over Wanaka website and can then book directly with the operator.

The RNZAF also supports the ‘Rides Day’ concept and hope to be part of it. Air vice Marshall Peter Stockwell says they support any move to attract new people to aviation. “We’re keen to be involved in the ‘Rides Day’ concept but how we are involved will depend on aircraft availability and operational imperative” said AVM Stockwell.

There is no entry fee to the airport and this Rides Day is a separate event to the Airshow. There will be a cost for the flights. 

Please note aircraft featured will not necessarily be those available on Rides Day.

RNZAF confirmed for WOW 2014

The Royal New Zealand Air Force has confirmed it will have many of its aircraft at the 2014 Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The Chief of the Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, has described Warbirds Over Wanaka as one of the pre-eminent airshows in the world. “The air force is proud to be involved and is committed to providing on-going support to this great airshow.”

Air Vice-Marshal Stockwell says subject to operational imperatives, the RNZAF intends to have many of its aircraft types at the show. “It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase the RNZAF’s capabilities to the general public and to engage with the wider aviation sector,” said AVM Stockwell.

The RNZAF has a long history of association with the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. They have displayed various aircraft over the years with their Red Checkers aerobatic display team attending on a number of occasions.

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says it’s fantastic news to have the RNZAF confirm they will be at their 2014 show. “They add such a lot to our event and it just wouldn’t be the same without them,” said Ed.

Warbirds Over Wanaka has also formally invited the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Air Force to be part of the 2014 airshow. “We won’t know for some time whether they will be able to be here. It all depends on operational issues and budgets but we’ve made it very clear we would love to have them here.”

“The RAAF was last at Warbirds Over Wanaka in 2010 when they wowed the crowd with a spectacular display by their F/A-18 jet fighter aircraft.”

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