A new recruit has landed at Ardmore airfield.
A former Royal New Zealand Air Force Aermacchi has joined a Skyhawk as a focal point at the Warbirds Visitor Centre.
The Aermacchi served with the RNZAF from 1991 to 2001 as an advanced jet trainer, providing an ideal lead-in to the Skyhawks.
Affectionately called the Macchi, the plane is one of a number gifted to aviation groups around the country after the air force's strike wing was disbanded.
Warbirds president Frank Parker is delighted to add the aircraft to the current lineup which also includes a T28 Trojan and the smaller scale Isaacs Fury.
"It's a valuable and welcome addition. It's been given to us in a fully serviceable condition and we hope in due course to once again give the Macchi its wings over Ardmore."
But first it needs a new engine, which Mr Parker predicts will cost about $200,000.
"For some people that's a lot of money, for others it's play money. To me, it's a lot of money."
But with former air force engineer Paul McSweeny on board the aircraft's assembly is secure. Mr McSweeny was managing the Aermacchi servicing teams when he retired in 2001.
"The fact that we have a Macchi, a Skyhawk and a privately owned Strikemaster together on the field is pretty significant because those are the three jets the air force has had in the last 40 years."
With a top speed of 960kmh the Italian-made aircraft "looked good and handled well but it wasn't always easy from a maintenance perspective," Mr McSweeny says.
It arrived at Ardmore in seven separate pieces and has been carefully reassembled by Warbirds members.
"It'd be nice to be able to go out and make some noise with it," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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