Jets to race in high-octane addition to airshow

Six powerful jets to be added to 2014 Airshow

CHE BAKER
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
Warbirds jets
CHE BAKER

AIR RACING: Warbirds over Wanaka general manager Ed Taylor with an L-39 jet similar to that which will be racing against other jets at the 2014 International Airshow.

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The Warbirds over Wanaka International 2014 Airshow is set to be one of the biggest yet, with organisers announcing that high-powered jet racing will be added to next year's programme.

Six powerful jets piloted by world champion air racers will race around a course marked by giant inflatable pylons at Wanaka Airport. "We think the crowd will really love it," airshow general manager Ed Taylor said.

Jet racing was the world's fastest motorsport and pilots taking part in the Easter Weekend event were expected to reach 640kmh.

"It's high octane," Mr Taylor said.

It was believed it would be the first time the racing had been held outside the United States, home to the Reno Air Race Championships.

Three of Reno's most successful pilots would make up an international team that would compete against three New Zealand pilots.

The final selection of pilots had yet to be made but Taranaki-based warbird, helicopter and aerobatic pilot Brett Emeny would lead the New Zealand team.

The event will follow the Reno racing format, where aircraft race around pylons side-by-side, rather than the Red Bull Air Races which are based on timed runs, Mr Taylor said.

The aircraft being used would be three Aero L-29s, two De Havilland Vampires and an Aero L-39.

Mr Taylor said jet aircraft were always a big favourite with the airshow crowd. "To have six of them racing around pylons will be something special to see. It's going to be extremely fast with plenty of passing action."

Gigatown Wanaka has jumped on board to be the naming sponsor for the event.

Next year's show would also feature a World War I centenary event involving six vintage aircraft. It was hoped a dogfight would be re-enacted between aircraft sporting Allied and enemy colours.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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