Warbirds set for takeoff

22:45, Apr 15 2014
The Roaring 40s
The Roaring 40s will be a highlight of Warbirds Over Wanaka this weekend.

The gas tanks are being filled, the tarmac checked and the pilot uniforms ironed for the show of the year.

The sounds of jets can already be heard in the sky above Wanaka as the final preparations come together for the 14th biennial Warbirds over Wanaka International Airshow.

Warbirds general manager Ed Taylor said with the additional events to the warbirds programme, including the free dog fight WWI commemoration display over Wanaka on Friday, the Gigatown Wanaka Reno-style jet racing and a sport aircraft display of over 50 microlight and gyrocopters, this year's show was expected to draw the biggest crowd yet.

"We're in for a very good airshow. The Gigatown Wanaka jet racing has really fired up the imaginations of a lot of people," Taylor said. The dog fight in the sky above Wanaka was also the first time an event of its kind has been held outside the airport, he said.

Taylor expected the jets, including three hawk jets that arrived in Queenstown yesterday as part of the Royal Australian Air Force, to be a huge hit with the crowd.

"Jets always get the crowd fired up because they are always so noisy," he said.


Warbirds founder, Wanaka aviation entrepreneur Sir Tim Wallis, started the airshow 26 years ago, attracting thousands of people to Wanaka.

Wallis, who lives in Mt Barker, was also excited about this year's line up.

"He is just as excited as he was 26 years ago," Taylor said. "He's looked at the programme and the line up and he is more excited than anyone."

Taylor said show had gone from strength to strength and was now the biggest event to be held in the area.

"A lot of events come and go but Warbirds over Wanaka continued to grow," he said.

Wallis said he was particularly looking forward the jet racing and the WWI fighters air display over Wanaka at the lake front.

"When we started here at Wanaka in 1988, I had visited many overseas airshows.

"All of these were in the countryside, with no spectacular mountains [or] lakes that the Wanaka area has.

"I am really proud to see how well the organising team have combined to make Warbirds over Wanaka 2014 a great event for Wanaka.

"Now with the team, it has, it will get better each year," Wallis said.

For wanting to become a part of the action have the chance to take part in the rides day on Monday where about 15 different aircrafts, including Tiger Moths, Aerovodochody L29 Jets and Piper Cherokee flights, will be available.


The Southland Times