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Culture Lifestyle March 2, 2016

Warbirds Over Wanaka

It is difficult even for non-aviators not to be moved, watching elegant old warbirds, jets, helicopters and myriad other aircraft carve up the blue skies in the beautiful mountain setting of Wanaka.


When the scene is further set by wartime music, ground-shaking pyrotechnics and re-enactments of life on the frontlines, it becomes an even more unforgettable experience still. Many visitors return again and again to the remarkable event that is Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. and the upcoming 2016 airshow is promising some real surprises.


It began 28 years ago as a picnic outing featuring a handful of warbirds collected by aviation pioneer, Sir Tim Wallis. Today it is one of the world’s four best warbird airshows, featuring up to 80 aircraft and a wealth of entertainment and displays over three days.


Highlights planned for this Easter airshow include an Me 109, short take-off and landing competition for sport aircraft and a ‘Rides Day’ for the public.


Wanaka Lakefront


Amphibian aircraft, including the Catalina, will fly over the lakefront in the free, public event at dusk (4.30pm) on Friday, 25 March. The aim is to illustrate aviation’s amphibian aircraft, with music and re-enactors adding authenticity to the event.


Power and Grace…the WWII Fighters


The stars of the airshow will always be the WWII fighters and despite the passage of time and the growing expense of keeping these in the sky, their numbers are stronger than ever.


This airshow will host one Spitfire, famous for its contribution in WWII, with over 22,000 produced, with No.486 (NZ) Squadron being a specific Spitfire squadron of Kiwi pilots. Its nemesis, the Buchon Me 109, is being brought out from the UK especially for the airshow.


Also on show will be the Goodyear FG-1D Corsair, two Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawks and two sleek North American P51-D Mustangs. The restored twin-engine Avro Anson Mk1 will display along with the Grumman Avenger.


Four airforces from the region will display along with graceful gliders, wine, food, entertainment and aviation displays which all make this a significant event, worthy of more than one day’s visit.


Rides Day – Monday


Rides Day on Monday 28th will give visitors the opportunity to get off the ground in anything from a warbird to a microlight. Book at


Wall of Fire


A stunning finale will be the biggest ‘wall of fire’ ever seen in New Zealand, at around 400 metres long and 100 metres high. The display involves 800 litres of fuel, two kilometres of wiring and it will be the biggest such display ever attempted in New Zealand.


Airshow organisers are working with Wanaka airport management and emergency services to ensure the display is safe by having additional fire appliances on standby.


Warbirds Over Wanaka
25th, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2016

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