Warbirds over Wanaka
|Warbirds over Wanaka|
Lavochkin La-9 at the 2006 Warbirds Over Wanaka
Warbirds over Wanaka is a biennial air show in Wanaka, held on the Easter weekend of even-numbered years since 1986. It is held at Wanaka Airport, 10 km south-east of Wanaka, in the southern South Island of New Zealand. Initially conceived by New Zealand live deer recovery pioneer, Sir Tim Wallis, as a display day for him to play with his collection of World War II aircraft, the show has grown into a major institution. Roads are closed and traffic is detoured around the area during the weekend. Hotels, motels and backpackers around Wanaka are usually booked well in advance (two years ahead). Accommodation is impossible to find if one does not have a booking.
A large contingent of historic and contemporary aircraft of note from all over New Zealand and the world converge on Wanaka each second Easter for the air show. Numerous aviation personalities from all over the world attend Warbirds over Wanaka, Gen Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin being the most notable of recent times. The mainstays of the display have traditionally been the aircraft from Sir Tim's Alpine Fighter Collection, based at the New Zealand Fighter Pilots' Museum. However, this collection is currently (2006) in the process of being broken up.[needs update] A new charitable trust has been established to run the event in the future.
At Easter on the alternate (odd) years a similar air show is held at Omaka air field in Blenheim in the northern South Island, under the title of Classic Fighters. Its emphasis is on World War I aircraft including as many as seven Fokker Dr.I triplanes. Also on alternate (odd) years Wings over Wairarapa airshow is held at Hood Aerodrome, Masterton, in the North Island.
As well as aircraft there were displays of vintage vehicles and agricultural machinery. The event attracted an estimated 14,000 visitors. Among the aircraft was Tim Wallis's Mustang, a Hawker Sea Fury, de Havilland Venom, DC3 and Harvards. The RNZAF put on a display with their Red Checkers aerobatic team. A profit of $41,000 was made, which was divided between the Wanaka Swimming pool and the next Warbirds event.
A more detailed organisation together with increased promotion saw attendance double to 28,000. A feature was Tim Wallis's repaired Spitfire XVI.
The star of the show was a Messerschmitt ME-109.
The star attractions were a Mitsubishi Zero replica and a Corsair, among 11 aircraft types new to the event.
Four Polikarpovs participated in the flying display. Three of them were Polikarpov I-16 monoplanes and the fourth a Polikarpov I-153 Tchaika.
The 2004 airshow attracted an estimated 99,000 people. Buzz Aldrin was the guest of honour.
The 2006 airshow was held over the weekend of April 14–16. A record 111,000 people were estimated to have attended.
The 2008 air show was held over the weekend of March 21–23. 86,000 people were estimated to have attended.
- Peat. Page 227.
- Peat, Neville (2005). Hurricane Tim : The Story of Sir Tim Wallis (Hardback). Dunedin: Longarce Press. ISBN 1-877361-17-8.
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