Monday, April 15, 2024
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Warbirds Over Wanaka – Six Years On

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow has been left on the sidelines for six years due to the global Covid-19 pandemic – but organisers are upbeat about the prospects for the Easter 2024 event on March 29, 30 and 31.

General manager Ed Taylor says the last airshow was in 2018 and plans were in place for the 2020 edition when the Government put a curfew on events for over 100 people.

“We thought we would be good to go in 2022 but again we had to cancel. It’s been very stressful and six years is a long time between events.”

But while they were down, they were not out and plans are forging ahead for a bigger and better family focused event in 2024 with predictions for 50,000 plus people to converge on Wānaka over the three days, injecting more than $40 million into the regional economy.

Ed says early ticket sales are encouraging and the diverse range of aircraft and international acts will again set the airshow apart. Classic aircraft through to military planes will perform and include a Mustang flying for the first time in 67 years and New Zealand’s only airworthy WWII Corsair under new ownership and making a welcome return to the airshow.

The P-40 Kittyhawk is back – “ it will give visitors an extra thrill with the firing of its six .50cal machine guns and Wānaka is possibly the only airshow in the world when people can witness this.”

A WWII Spitfire will join the line up and the airshow marks the final appearance of the RNZAF’s C130-H Hercules which will be replaced with a newer version next year.

“We have also issued invitations to the Royal Australian Airforce and the US Air Force and hope as in other years they will bring their fighter jets to Wānaka,” says Ed.

Fly Like an Eagle

The American Eagles jet aerobatic display team will make its international debut at the 2024 Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow.

General manager Ed Taylor says they have worked on a plan to get the four-man team and aircraft together for a long time – “we are super excited it’s finally going to happen”.

A key member is Paul “Sticky” Strickland who will be remembered for his stunning solo L-39 display in 2018 and has put together the American Eagles team.

“They are all current members of the US Patriots Jet display team,” says Ed,  “and generally regarded as the best civilian jet display team in the States.”

The team will fly aircraft supplied by FighterJets.nz based in Tauranga.

18042014 Martin de Ruyter/ The Nelson Mail Civilian helicopters flown by local Queenstown and Wanaka pilots fly a display at Warbirds over Wanaka.

Airshow Aerobatic Antics

The world’s most prolific high-performance aerobatic display pilot will be joined by one of New Zealand’s best as they perform jaw-dropping aerial displays at the Easter 2024 Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow.

Two-time world aerobatic champion Jurgis Kairys from Lithuania returns and the crowd will also be treated to a debut solo aerobatic performance by Te Anau based Ivan “Krazy” Krippner.

Meanwhile the New Zealand Red Stars Yak-52 aerobatic team is planning a world-first display to honour one of its founders.

Airshow general manager Ed Taylor says Brett Emeny has been involved with the team for more than two decades and it had been his idea to put together a 12- ship display for 2024 before he unfortunately passed away earlier in 2023.

“His daughter Fay is a member of the Red Stars and says it will be special to perform the routine in his honour. Brett was an absolute legend and having the team execute this standout routine in his memory will be a highlight.”