The Royal New Zealand Air Force will celebrate its 85th anniversary at the 2022 Easter Warbirds Over Wānaka International Airshow which is the largest airshow of its type in the southern hemisphere attracting 55,000 visitors over three days.
Warbirds hosted the RNZAF’s 75th celebrations in 2012 and general manager Ed Taylor says ten years on they are looking forward to another big party.
“ Along with the RNZAF aircraft, invitations are going out to a number of international counterparts to join the celebrations, including the Australian, US and French air forces.”
“Confirmation of which military aircraft will be present at the show is still some way off, but if the line-up we had for our 2020 airshow, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is anything to go by it will be outstanding. This line-up included F-16 fighter jets and a B-52 bomber.”
Ed says that along with the modern military aircraft there will be a range of classic Warbirds and other aircraft, stunning pyrotechnics and ground displays and a glimpse into the future of aviation.
“ We have also confirmed next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka will feature a rare Polikarpov I-16. This Russian WWII fighter aircraft was imported from Germany for last year’s show and we have worked with the owner and our sponsors, Hamburg Sud and Mainfreight, to keep the aircraft here.”
One of nine Polikarpov fighter wrecks located in Siberia by Warbirds Over Wanaka founder Sir Tim Wallis in the early 1990s, the aircraft was restored in an original Polikarpov factory in Russia before being shipped to Wanaka.
“When Sir Tim’s Warbird collection was sold off during the early 2000s the Polikarpovs went to new owners around the world,” says Ed. “ It’s believed only three of the I-16s are still flying and we know there are thousands of fans who will travel to Wanaka just to see this distinctive little aircraft with its noisy 1000hp engine.”
The Polikarpov will be flown by two-times world aerobatic champion, Jurgis Kairys, from Lithuania.