Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Warbirds Over Wanaka was WOW!!

Warbirds Over Wanaka is one of the premier showcases for warbirds in New Zealand. Run over the Easter weekend as a biennial event it consisted of a practice day on Friday and the two main days over the Saturday and Sunday. All three days were open to the public and there were plenty of opportunities for joy flights in some rare classic warbirds over the weekend and also on the Monday.

This was the first time your ASO team has covered Wanaka and we were very impressed with a well organised show that allowed for the showcase of a couple of current military warbirds alongside a fabulous list of historic aircraft.

And there are few better backdrops than the mountains of the South Island.

ME 109 V Spitfire.

 

Spitfire closing in on the 109.
Spitfire closing in on the 109.

But what was the biggest highlight for us? It would have to have been the one on one battles between the Bouchon 109 and a Supermarine Mk IX Spitfire in mock combat. There were a couple of opportunities in the program for these two to face off. The first being an airfield attack by the 109 and subsequent scramble by the Spitfire that resulted in a dogfight that was just awesome to watch and hear.

Bouchon and Spitfire draw alongside each other
Bouchon and Spitfire draw alongside each other
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The Spit in hot pursuit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mk IX Spitfire PV270 chasing the 109
The Bouchon's blade making the most of the moist air as it rolls over the top.
The Bouchon’s blade making the most of the moist air as it rolls over the top.
Spitfire
Spitfire
Bouchon 109
Bouchon 109
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ME109 getting attacked from above by the RAF Spitfire.

Classic Jet Power

With the jet noise starting each day with a 4 ship made up of two BAC Strikemasters and two De Havilland Vampires. The program read “fast,noisy and low Jet Fighters”  and really thats the way it should be.

 

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One of the two De Havilland Vampires returning after a successful display.

 

Vampire's on a nice low run in
Vampire’s on a nice low run in
Strikemasters turn in
Strikemasters turn in

Vampires

strike master
strikemaster

Nine ship Yak 52 formation perform loop

A claimed first for an airshow was the 9 ship formation of Yak 52 aircraft performing a loop. First or not, it was an impressive piece of teamwork.

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A 9 ship formation of Yak 52 performing a loop.
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More Yak action
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Yak 52 formation

Modern Military Warbirds

Four nations air forces were represented at WOW this year with representatives from the air forces of New Zealand, Australia, France and the United States.

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RNZAF T-6C Texan II

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) had the biggest contingent including one of their C-130H Hercules and the new T-6C Texan II also on display as well as the NH-90 and A109.

 

RNZAF A-109 at Warbirds Over Wanaka

RNZAF A-109 light utility helicopter being put through its paces.

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RAAF Hawk on the hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

RNZAF NH-90
RNZAF NH-90
RNZAF C-130H Hercules
RNZAF C-130H Hercules
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“Angel flares” RNZAF C-130H Hercules firing off its defensive flares.
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RNZAF C-130 Herc cutting through the moisture in the air.
RNZAF C-130H Hercules
RNZAF C-130H Hercules

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was represented by the 79 SQN from RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia with their energetic 4 ship display of the RAAF’s BAE Hawk 127.

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One of the RAAF 4 ship of Hawks breaks away to perform a solo display
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The RAAF Hawks perform a battle break
A RAAF Hawk and a local Hawk
A RAAF Hawk and a local Hawk
RAAF Hawk Solo Display
RAAF Hawk Solo Display
Hawks Dirty Pass
Hawks Dirty Pass

 

United States Air Force (USAF) flew in the C-17 Globemaster Demonstration Team from the 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam ,Hawaii to participate in the show. The strip at Wanaka is more than long enough to land the C-17 but unfortunately it lacks the load rating to put this big bird down. None the less the aircraft flew in from Christchurch each day and put on the dynamic type of display we have come to expect from this agile big aircraft.

C-17 Globemaster
C-17 Globemaster
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USAF C-17 Globemaster of the 535th Airlift SQN from Hawaii
USAF C-17 Globemaster
USAF C-17 Globemaster

The French Air Force (Armée de l’air ) provided a spirited display with the much smaller cousin to the Herc and Globemaster, the CASA CN-235-300.

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Armée de l’air CASA comes in over the top of an earlier reliable regional transporter, the DC-3.
CASA CN-235-300.
CASA CN-235-300.

Aerobatics

Rob Fry with the smoke on.
Jurgis Kairys showing he too can have some “smoke on”
The “Air Bandits” laying down the smoke.

Helicopters

NZ loves their choppers. Everything from hunting, fishing and skiing to more work related activities, the mountainous terrain of much of the country dictates that choppers are the logical choice for accessing, working and playing on the land. The rotary wing fraternity was well represented at WOW. Part of the launch of the show each day was a massive formation of choppers showing off the variety of type and task they are used for.

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Prop wash a plenty. Part of the line formation of choppers with a backdrop of mountains showing why choppers are so important in New Zealand.

P-40 firing the 50 cal machine guns

One of the things we were looking forward to the most about this show was the live firing of the Kittyhawk’s 50 calibre machine guns during the display. Take a close look (click the image to enlarge) at the shot below and you will see the spent rounds and clips being ejected from under the wings as the P-40 takes its part in the mock battle.

P-40 Guns get a quick test run
P-40 Guns get a quick test run
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P-40 strafing the crowd.

As a special treat after the aircraft landed it pulled up near to the Gold stand and gave the guns another couple of bursts.

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STOL Competition.

Another interesting event was the Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) competition. These aircraft are all wing and wheels being able to take off and land in remarkably short distances.

STOL comp
STOL comp

Classic Heavy Twin Radials

With a pair of DC-3 Dakotas, a Catalina and a Avro Anson as part of the display were sure that these big twin radial aircraft needed a special mention.

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The splendid Avro Anson before being attacked by the 109
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One of the 2 C-47 Dakota bounds down the runway with smiling faces in the windows.

 

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The Consolidated PBY Catalina performed in the airshow as well as put on a delightful set of water landings on Lake Wanaka.
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Following the attack on the Anson by the 109, her damaged engines raise a cheer amongst the ‘enemy’ ground forces.
Bouchon 109 takes the action to the Anson
Bouchon 109 takes the action to the Anson
The Anson takes a hit
The Anson takes a hit
Anson under fire but giving some back
Anson under fire but giving some back
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C-47 Dakotas (DC-3) with a stunt flying escort.
DC-3 about to get barrel rolled
DC-3 about to get barrel rolled.

Pacific Theatre

Representing the aircraft most prolific in the Pacific Theatre was a fleet including 2 Curtis P-40 Kittyhawks, a FG-1D Corsair and the mighty Grumman Avenger known as Plonky.

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Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks scrambling to take on the aggressors.

 

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As the Corsair folds her wings the Avenger passes over head.
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The Avenger performs the wing sweep that shows off her capacity to be a carrier born aircraft

 

Corsair
Corsair
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Bent wings and a big radial … it can only be the one and only Corsair
The Pacific Fighters
The Pacific Fighters

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Canvas, wood and wire.

No airshow is complete with paying homage to the early days of flight. Born out of the earliest powered flight designs and still sharing much of the same technology and materials the canvas covered wings of the Tiger Moth provided a quieter and calmer reminder of our warbird heritage than their V12 and big radial powered cousins. They were none the less enjoyable against the big blue New Zealand sky.

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Tiger Moths in the big blue
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The flight line

Another aircraft of the same era with a surprising military history was the Beechcraft Staggerwing. this particular aircraft saw service with the RAAF during WWII.

The Main Event

As each day progressed and each of the aircraft had finished their turn to display individually and in small numbers we savoured the moment when the final battle scenario began. This scenario brought into play most of the fighters at the show for a battle that included the Roaring 40’s Harvards teaming up with the ME 109 as bad guys taking on the might of the Corsair, Spitfire, the two Kittyhawks, two P-51 mustangs and the YAK3.

The 3 Classic Aircraft waiting for the start
The 3 Classic Aircraft waiting for the start
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P-51 Mustang fighters scrambling.
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P40 Kittyhawks come in low and fast
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P-51 Mustang barreling over the top chasing the bad guys

 

The Bouchon 109
The Bouchon 109
Always check your six
Always check your six
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Spitfire screams over the top.
Bouchon 109 catches a P-51D
Bouchon 109 catches a P-51D

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Yak 3 and the Spitfire
Yak 3 and the Spitfire
P-51D Mustang
P-51D Mustang

The Final Fighter Formation

As the dust settled and the last of the ‘bad guys’ were despatched, smoking, the victorious allied fighters formed up for a victory fly past.

The final flight
The final flight
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The final pass and grand finale

 


 

For more of the aviation action from NZ check out these other articles:

Hawks through the new Mach Loop – RAAF hawks making the most of the mountains in NZ

360Fly view from a Yak 3 over Wanaka 360 fly camera from within the Yak 3 whilst at Wanaka

Catalina landing on Lake Wanaka – The public display on and over lake on the Friday evening including the Catalina water landings

 


Words and Images by: Mark Jessop and Leigh Atkinson

 

 

7 comments

  1. Outstanding! What a great show.
    I couldn’t make it to Wanaka, but I’m saving my pennies for a Gold Pass at Omaka next year.

  2. Hello!

    Congratulation for thoses beautifull pictures!
    I’m part of the french Casa team, and we (the squadron) would love to have some pictures of our casa in flight. I see some very nice here!

    Thanks,
    Yves

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