RNZAF Old and New for 2024
The Royal New Zealand Air Force is gearing up to farewell one of it’s most iconic aircraft while debuting a brand new addition at next Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.
Air Force planners are working on a large number of RNZAF aircraft taking part in New Zealand’s premier air show with a couple of special displays in the pipeline.
Wanaka is expected to be the final major airshow display for the Hercules C-130H aircraft which first entered service in New Zealand in 1965 with the fleet of five C-130’s being the main transport aircraft for the RNZAF ever since. They are being phased out to make way for five brand new C-130J aircraft, the first of which is expected to arrive after next Easter’s airshow. The new C-130J is some five metres longer allowing it to carry more equipment and troops.
Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor says they are already planning a fitting farewell for this much-loved aircraft. “The Hercs have been coming to Wanaka for years and always put on a great performance. Over the years they have wowed crowds with numerous role demonstrations including their famous flare display."
“On another couple of occassions we’ve had the Herc land and immediately had the RNZAF band and a local pipe band emerge in full song out the back door of the aircraft on the runway.”
Farewelling the aircraft at the Wanaka airshow will be a sentimental time for many visitors to the airshow, especially within the military. That includes the current Chief of Air Force Air Vice Marshall Darryn Webb who flew the Hercules when it displayed at Wanaka back in 2004. Meanwhile, one of the airshow commentary team, Grant Stewart, served on the Hercules during his time in the air force.
Along with farewelling the old Hercules, Wanaka is also excited to announce the RNZAF intends to display their brand new maritime surveillance aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon. The impressive Poseidons are based at Ohakea replacing the aging P-3 Orion fleet and have already been involved in a number of high-profile missions in the Pacific.
The RNZAF expects to announce other aircraft for Wanaka as the airshow draws nearer. All aircraft announced for the airshow are subject to being available and operational at the time of the event.