Dambusters pilot at Wings Over Wairarapa

Last updated 17:29 09/04/2014

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The last surviving pilot from the famous Dambusters raid on Germany during World War II will help launch the next edition of a popular air show tonight.

Former Lancaster pilot and squadron leader John "Les" Munro, 95, of Tauranga, is the last pilot alive from the dangerous bouncing bomb attacks on German dam walls, immortalised in 1955 film The Dam Busters.

Alongside Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks, he will speak to about 100 businesspeople at the launch of the 2015 Wings Over Wairarapa event at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort in Masterton tonight.

Munro, who went to England last year to take part in 70th anniversary celebrations of the raid, was enlisted as a technical adviser on an upcoming Peter Jackson remake of the 1955 film.

A biennial event since 1999, Wings Over Wairarapa will be held at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome over Wellington Anniversary weekend next January, with the theme "Experience 100 years of aviation".

It will feature vintage aircraft from World War I and World War II and flying displays.

Highlights of the 2013 event, which attracted more than 24,000 people, included a rare de Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber, a World War I biplane, the DH5, and a DH Vampire jet.

Next year's show would have particular interest since 2015 is the 100th anniversary of New Zealand's participation in the Gallipoli campaign, Wings community trust chairman Bob Francis said.

Wings manager Jenny Gasson said tonight's launch would focus on the benefit to Wairarapa businesses from getting involved in the show.

Regional tourism organisation Destination Wairarapa's credit-card data showed an 8.2 per cent increase in spending by visitors from around the country and overseas during last year's event, she said.

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- The Dominion Post


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