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Air Force Heritage Flight Spitfire coming to Lower North Island

The skies between Ohakea, Masterton, the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast will reverberate to the sound of New Zealand’s military aviation heritage on Saturday 14 May, as the Air Force Heritage Flight (AFHF) conducts flypasts.

09 May, 2022

The flypasts are in celebration of 80 years since the formation of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) No. 14 Squadron.

The Flight’s Supermarine Spitfire and two modern Beechcraft T-6C Texan II aircraft will take off from Base Ohakea in time to fly over Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park at 11am. The flight path will also cover as many towns and settlements as is possible during the one-hour flight, including Feilding, Ashhurst, Woodville, Pahiatua, Eketahuna, Carterton, Greytown, Featherston, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Paekakariki, Paraparaumu, Otaki and Levin. 

The AFHF Flight Commander, Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Michael Williams, said the Display Team had planned to fly over Masterton, the birthplace of No.14 Squadron, on their recent trip to Christchurch but were thwarted by low cloud. 

“This special flight has been mounted to ensure that the significant support base in the lower North Island does not miss out this season,” he said.

Formed from the remnants of No. 488 Squadron at Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome in 1942, No. 14 Squadron has a proud history which includes operational service in the Pacific during World War 2. The Squadron continues to serve New Zealand today by training pilots on the modern T-6C Texan II. 

The purpose of the AFHF is to commemorate and sustain the memory of New Zealand’s military aviation heritage, and to remind New Zealanders, friends and allies of our past shared sacrifice and continued commitment to global security. The Flight also aims to inspire current and potential Defence Force personnel through engagement, respect and pride.

SQNLDR Williams said that the AFHF benefits the RNZAF in four distinct areas, including as a tool for international influence and defence diplomacy.

“It shows our international defence partners how much we value the times we stood together and honours that shared sacrifice.”

It also educates the wider New Zealand public on their military aviation heritage while highlighting the Defence Force as a relevant career option.

“New Zealand’s military aviation heritage is part of the heritage of all New Zealanders, so we’re grabbing the attention of people who don’t normally think about aviation and out of that flows the idea that maybe they could have a career with the RNZAF. This in particular is a benefit of having the modern Texan II aircraft in formation with the older machines.

“It also underscores our current core values – these are machines that RNZAF aircrew flew in the fight for what was right, which is the same military focus as we have today.”

Exact routing and timings will be available on the AFHF Facebook page.

Banner image credit: Gavin Conroy