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The Legacy of Sir Tim Wallis

The 2024 Warbirds Over Wanaka international airshow will be without its greatest supporter – founder patron and number one fan Sir Tim Wallis who recently died aged 85 in Wanaka.

He was recognised as the driving force behind the event for 20 years after the first airshow Warbirds on Parade was held in 1988 bringing 14,000 visitors to Wānaka.

Sir Tim’s enthusiasm for flying and his love for his collection of WWII fighter planes helped create an international fixture which attracted Warbirds fans from all over the world to the biennial Easter event – so much so that in 2018 a record 50,000 people descended on Wānaka over the three-day event.

He was head of the organising committee until 2006 when control passed to the newly established Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust. Trust chairman John Gilks says Sir Tim leaves an amazing legacy.

“His combined ambition was to share his World War II aircraft with people from all over the world and put Wānaka, which was at the time a sleepy little town, on the world map. He achieved all that and a lot more. He was a real business entrepreneur and his legacy in this region goes way beyond the airshow.”

Sir Tim was prominent in New Zealand flying circles and was knighted in 1994 for services to deer farming, export and the community. A special tribute to Sir Tim is planned during the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow.