Air show focus on Bleriot II replicas
A piece of New Zealand aviation history has been brought to life for the Omaka Classic Fighters Air Show, with a replica of the first airplane to fly in the country expected to be on display.
The non-working pre-World War I Bleriot II replica will be joined by another working replica of the famous plane which is due to have its first flight at the air show next weekend.
Omaka Classic Fighters Air Show display director Dave Lochead said the non-working replica was originally built by the Marlborough Aero Club in the 1960s.
"It represents the first aircraft to fly in New Zealand. The replica isn't intended to be flown, but it's had a few accidental flights when the wind picked it up," he said.
At some point in its history the plane was taken to Ashburton where it fell into disrepair. The club later re-acquired it and began restoring it in November last year, Lochead said.
In contrast, the working replica has been built by Dutch vintage aviation enthusiast Gert van Kruiningen, who lives in Rangiora. "He is back in Holland so we are overseeing the last part of the build for him before it goes for an inspection and is hopefully cleared to fly for the first time [at the air show]," Lochead said.
Van Kruiningen's replica has been built with modern aeronautical materials and instruments as well as a "newer" 1928 radian engine.
It is a replica of a slightly different Bleriot, which made the first crossing of the English Channel in 1909.
A third replica pre-World War I aircraft, a Pither monoplane, was also expected to be at the show, Lochead said.
"Seeing them fly will be pretty special. These aeroplanes didn't come much after the Wright brothers. This will be the first time two Bleriots will be on the same airfield together [in Marlborough], and certainly the first time three pre-war aircraft will be together at the air show."
- The Marlborough Express