Pacific Scoop

Airshow shapes up as best ever

Press Release – Warbirds Over Wanaka

Wanaka: Rare aircraft, big aircraft, jet pack aircraft, floating aircraft, aircraft firing guns, aircraft dropping bombs and aircraft stopping in a matter of metres. These are just some of the acts which have been confirmed for next Easters Warbirds …Airshow shapes up as best ever

Wanaka: Rare aircraft, big aircraft, jet pack aircraft, floating aircraft, aircraft firing guns, aircraft dropping bombs and aircraft stopping in a matter of metres. These are just some of the acts which have been confirmed for next Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow ever.

General Manager Ed Taylor says organisers have been overwhelmed with the amazing range of aircraft and displays that will feature in Wanaka in late March next year.

“We start planning for the next airshow the moment the previous one ends. We have a wish list for new acts and returning acts and send out many invitations. We have been blown away by the response for 2016,” says Ed.

Among the headline acts will be the appearance of the Buchon Me-109 from the UK. The Me-109 was the main WWII fighter aircraft for the Germans going head to head with the Spitfire in the Battle of Britain.

“Having the 109 and Spitfire here to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain will be special for many of our Warbirds fans. They will also be excited to know that Liz Needham’s P40 Kittyhawk will be fitted with machine guns for a live firing run down the airfield, Wanaka is the only airshow where this is performed,” says Ed.

The WWII Avro Anson aircraft will be back with a bomb drop added to the display routine for 2016.

A record four regional airforces will be displaying this Easter. The RNZAF is being joined by crews from the United States, Australian and French airforces. “We are very excited about having secured the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III demonstration team out of Hawaii. This is a very large transport aircraft which give a very impressive display.”

“Two other airforce transport aircraft, the RNZAF Hercules and the French CASA, will also be performing as part of the airshow, while the Australians are planning to bring their Hawk Jets back to thrill the crowd with their fast and noisy display.”

Other large aircraft on display will include a couple of DC-3s and the return of the Catalina Flying Boat which will be making its first New Zealand public display since undergoing a major refurbishment.

Returning to Wanaka will be World Aerobatic Champion Jurgis Kairys from Lithuania. Jurgis has been a regular at Wanaka over the years with many visitors coming just to see him perform. This Easter Jurgis will be performing his Air Bandits routine with Auckland pilot Rob Fry.

Jet Racing will be held for the second time after a hugely successful debut in 2014 with the best New Zealand pilots again taking on a team from the US-based Reno Air Races. The US team will be back with more firepower, an L29 with a powerful Viper engine, and a new pilot in Vicky Benzing who was crowned “the fastest woman at Reno” earlier this year.

The ever popular gliding displays at Wanaka are returning with the grace and agility of these aircraft enthralling the crowds. It’s hoped that All Black great Ritchie McCaw will be on hand again to take control of one of the gliders. The gliding display is put together by the team at Gliding Omarama.

The New Zealand sport aircraft sector will be celebrated with a Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) competition. This will see pilots compete to see who can use the least runway to bring these special aircraft to a complete stop.

Another first will be the opportunity for visitors to be part of an actual airshow display. A total of ten lucky visitors will get the chance to be part of a tandem skydive demonstration on both days of the airshow.

“Anyone who comes to the airshow can go in the draw to win one of these jumps. They can either enter the draw now by registering online or at the Skydive Wanaka marquee at the airshow,” says Ed.

There will also be plenty to see and do on the ground.

“The NASA scientific balloon team will be at the airshow giving visitors the opportunity to talk with them about NASA and the work they do. NASA are due to launch a second balloon from Wanaka just four days after the airshow,” says Ed.

Local Sport Aircraft enthusiasts along with the Sport Aircraft Association of New Zealand are also planning a number of demonstrations to show how easy and relatively inexpensive aviation can be to get into.

The history of trucks in New Zealand will be celebrated with the “Warbirds and Wheels Century of Trucking” display. Airshow organisers are hoping to have up to 50 trucks on display from early models through to the most modern trucks in the country.

Another new initiative is a market place for people to buy and sell second hand aviation-related items. Anything from propellers to flaps and headsets to engine parts can be sold through the WOWMart which is being organised by the team at Classic Flights at Wanaka Airport.

Keeping the big airshow crowds informed and entertained will be the Commentary Team which will be headed up by the ever popular Jim Hickey. Jim will be assisted by two other veterans of the airshow, local pilot Grant Stewart and broadcaster Ian ‘Ferg’ Ferguson.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is expected to attract a crowd of around 50,000 people over the Easter weekend. More information and tickets available via


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