Whitianga abuzz for Warbirds spectacle

Last updated 05:00 04/01/2014

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All eyes will be on the skies above Whitianga today - and not just because of the threat of forecast bad weather.

The inaugural Warbirds and Wheels event, a joint venture between the Mercury Bay Aero Club and the New Zealand Warbirds Association, will give those in the Coromandel town the opportunity to get up close to some rare and classic aircraft, as well as watch daring displays of aircraft manoeuvrability overhead.

Unless it gets rained off, that is.

Despite the potential for bad weather, the Whitianga airfield was a hive of activity yesterday, as event organisers worked hard to prepare for thousands of visitors.

Aero club vice-president Bill Beard was taking a wait-and-see approach to the predicted precipitation.

"Whitianga seems to have its own little micro-climate. It can be sunny here and hosing down over the hill in Kuaotunu. And vice versa. If it rains down on us, then that's just life, I guess."

There will be about 25 display planes parked on the airfield and taking flights, from the graceful Tiger Moth to World War II fighters, to the modern MX2, designed specifically for show acrobatics.

Among them will be the Miles Messenger, a World War II military aircraft, one of which was used by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery as his personal plane.

Built in 1947, the Messenger at the airport is one of just four still flying, and the only one in New Zealand. Only 98 of the wooden planes were manufactured, in Ireland.

There will also be numerous solo and formation aerobatics by the Roaring 40s Harvard formation display team; high-speed jet flypasts; and skydivers jumping from a DC3 and diving at 160kmh before swooping across the ground.

Meanwhile, at a nearby racetrack, stock cars will be taking part in demonstration races.

"It should be a good day, weather permitting," Mr Beard said.

"It is the first time we have tried it in this format. We used to have airshows every three or four years. We aren't going for a full-on, really expensive flying display but there should still be a lot to get people excited."

Following an early morning Wake up Whitianga display by the Harvard team over Buffalo beach, the show will begin about 10am. 

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- Waikato Times

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