Opportunities in WWI centenary

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 07:37 14/01/2014
DEREK FLYNN/Marlborough Express
IN FOCUS: Kiwi film-making legend Peter Jackson trains his lens on the action during the Classic Fighters Airshow at Omaka.

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The proposed use of aircraft at Marlborough's Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in a re-enactment of a World War I battle will help raise the profile of the aviation centre around the world, the centre's chief executive says.

Sir Peter Jackson is considering helping restore Britain's only intact World War I airfield, Stow Maries in Essex, England, using his planes in a recreation of the airfield during wartime to mark its centenary.

Sir Peter chairs the 14-18 Aviation Heritage Trust, which has an agreement with the New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust to display the Knights of the Sky exhibition at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

He has a collection of planes on display at the centre as well as a private collection of aircraft in Wellington, Masterton and Blenheim.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre chief executive Jane Orphan said if Sir Peter decided to swap planes from Omaka or take them to Britain from his collection, it would filter down to the centre as a positive.

"Any impact on Omaka [Aviation Heritage Centre], I think will be a positive one because it's raising our profile and the profile of World War I aircraft and aviation," Mrs Orphan said.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and its Easter airshow are major tourist attractions in Marlborough. Each year, large numbers of visitors from around the world visit the centre to see the collection of planes and memorabilia on show.

To mark the centenary, the centre is fundraising to create a new exhibition based on the Kiwi aeronautical contribution to WWI.

The ‘New Zealand hall' would chronicle the Kiwi contribution in the air before, during and after the war, Mrs Orphan said.

The exhibition is expected to open in time for the 2015 Marlborough Classic Fighters Airshow in April.

Hereitage plans a crowd pleaser

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- The Marlborough Express

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